The 23rd annual Mondial de la Bière kicked off this past Wednesday night. It is always a highlight of the summer festival season here in Montreal. That is saying something in a city that boast world class film festivals (Fantasia), comedy (Just for Laughs) and music (Jazz Festival). That being said close to 200,000 people are expected to attend the Mondial over its five days. The sheer grandeur of the festival is what draws so many people to it. Tons of beer and food will be available to taste. Close to 600 different products will be there at the Palais de Congrès with over 580 of those being of the beverage variety. More impressive is the fact that 282 of the beers are new waiting to be tried. Variety is a key word here as no matter what type of beer or cider you like you will find something to please your pallet here. Whether you are a fan of IPAs, stouts, blondes, reds, bock, pilsner, lager, porter, or ale there will be beers for you to discover and enjoy. Brewing countries are represented here with beers from Canada, United States, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Norway, Poland, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, Ireland, Mexico, and Brazil.
This is a loud, energetic and large world to get lost in. The Mondial offers different social situations. You can go there with friends and enjoy a night out. You can just station yourself at one of the tables and indulge in some high quality people watching. Or you can go alone and meet new people. You can walk around for hours and still not see everything; that is the size of the festival. Plenty of drink and food. There is a focus on making sure that you get something in your stomach while drinking. And it is not just anything, but the focus is on foods that pair well with beers meaning there is plenty of meat, cheese and sweet stuff like fudge. Admission is free while tasting tickets are a dollar each and tastings cost anywhere from 2 to 8 tickets.
Let’s not kid ourselves despite the fact that there is plenty of food to taste and people to watch the reason most attend the Mondial is the drink. I tried loads of the beers available to sample and have compiled a list of them for you:
- Central City Hopping Mad Cider – Brewed by: Central City Brewers + Distillers. Location: Surrey, BC, Canada. Despite the name this cider is not hoppy in taste. Rather you only get a hint of the hops as you smell it. It is dry sweet, has mild carbonation, small head upon pouring, and is pale in colour. Light apple taste. At 6.5% it is stronger than most ciders, so take that into account. A perfect summer drink.
- Goose Island Endless IPA – Brewed by: Goose Island Beer Company. Location: Chicago, Illinois, US. This limited edition IPA has a citrusy, lemony taste to it. A rather crisp flavour. The colour is golden with the smell being of caramel, malt and hops. Thin head of off white colour with thin lacing. Medium body and carbonation. Feels refreshing in your mouth making it easy to drink.
- Central City Red Racer ISA – Brewed by: Central City Brewers + Distillery. Located: Surrey, BC, Canada. Light in alcohol at 4%. The Canadian pale ale malt pours golden with a medium size white head and a little carbonation. Smell is of citrus scented hops. Taste is crisp and bitter with hints of grapefruit. Good beer!
- Mill St Organic Lager – Brewed by: Mill St. Brewery. Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Pale yellow in colour, faint citrus and pepper aroma with thin head and decent lacing. Though the head disappears shortly after pour. Taste is light and yeasty. Pretty fizzy. Not my favourite from this brewery.
- Central City Red Racer India Style Red Ale – Brewed by: Central City Brewers + Distillery. Located: Surrey, BC, Canada. Formerly called an ESB, but now categorized as an Irish Ale. Striking copper colour when you pour it. A thin head with nice lacing. Smells include hops, fruity, pepper, and malt. As for taste it is rather bitter that begins as a citrusy hops and ends as malt and fruits. Creamy feeling in your mouth is what makes this enjoyable beer.
- Bodebrown Atomga Cherry Wood Aged – Brewed by: Bodebrown. Location: Parana, Brazil. A very dark stout that boasts a thin brown head. Smells of chocolate and fruit. Once you put it in your mouth you are struck by its warmth and sweetness. Tastes of cherry and licorice.
- Captain Lawrence Hudson Valley Harvest Sour Strawberry – Brewed by: Captain Lawrence Brewing Company. Location: Elmsford, New York, US. Pours red and hazy with a thin white head. This beer is all about the way is smells. It is fruity and berries. The taste is acidic with a slight strawberry flavour. Because the smell is so appealing the taste is a little disappointing. Dry, but just okay in taste.
- Kuka Banana Nut Brown – Brewed by: Andean Brewing Company. Location: Blauvelt, New York, US. Dry English ale. Natural banana flavour. Smooth and if you like banana then you will find it tasty. Almost reminded me of banana bread with its nutty and light flavour. Red brown in colour. You can smell it from quite a distance. Feels thick and creamy in your mouth. The head is off white and thin not staying around very long. Very good!
- Rogue Chocolate Stout – Brewed by: Rogue Ales. Location: Newport, Oregon, US. This sweet stout is black in colour with a creamy tan head. Taste is of oats, chocolate and malt. Medium body and light carbonation. Smells of chocolate and marshmallow. Smooth and creamy and quite tastey.
- Birrificio Sant’Andrea BSA Hey Ho To Go! – Brewed by: Birrificio Sant’Andrea. Location: Vercelli, Italy. An IPA that is fairly strong at 6.2%. Is hazy orange once poured with a large white head. Smells of oranges and malt. Light carbonation. Tastes of apricot and floral with a bitter ending. Nothing special.
This year there was a whole end of the vast room dedicated to hard alcohol. Right beside Randolph Pub, which had a bunch of board games you could borrow and play while enjoying a drink, was a Terrace featuring vodkas and rums. We hit up the Saint James/Bardinet booth. Hailing from Martinique and around since 1765, they have a range of white and dark rums with old and extra old blends. With the rums you could have one of their delicious mojitos, which was fresh and tasty. The white rum which has fruity and peppery hints is perfect for this drink. Negrita Creamy Rum was our next sampling. Think of it as an alternative to Bailey’s. It’s spicy and fruity with hints of vanilla and caramel and wonderful on ice. Make sure you hit up his area which is a nice change of pace from the beers and ciders.
There is still Saturday and Sunday left at the Mondial, so you have time to make the trip over to enjoy all that it has to offer.
Photos by Jan Giblin