All about beer & whisky festival La Cuvée

We spoke to Whisky Montreal’s Jean-François Pilon about this year’s microbrew, whisky and spirit fest, running Feb. 27 to March 1.

La Cuvée

This is arguably the worst part of winter. Personally, I think last week’s warmer temperatures lulled me into a false sense of security. But while we trudge through the muck of a few more weeks of blustery winter conditions, this fine city continues to offer events that make braving the cold entirely worth it. La Cuvée is one of these events.

The three-day winter fest, now in its second year, showcases Quebec microbreweries and the wealth of craft beers they create, in an atmosphere promising “roaring ’20s and rock ’n’ roll vibes.” We spoke to organizer and Whisky Montreal founder Jean-François Pilon about this year’s event and what we can expect.

lacuvKayla Marie Hillier: How did La Cuvée come about?
Jean-François Pilon: The initial idea was to create a tasting event for microbrewed beer, in winter, from Quebec — everything is from Quebec on the microbrew front. That was the initial idea when they started all this.

Kayla Marie Hillier: What’s in store this year?
Jean-François Pilon: Last year went really, really well. They were sold out every day and it was really fun. The staff that we have are all passionate people from the microbreweries themselves or from their bars. The breweries are of course there presenting their own products, but you can also try some beers that aren’t normally available to the public because they’re not bottled or distributed outside of the brewery itself. The bars really go out of their way to get really passionate staff — they’ll have some bloggers, home brewers. It’s all about getting people who love beer to the event. That’s it, that’s the goal.

lacuvnomWhat’s new this year is that they’ve added a third night to the event. The Thursday is a whisky and company night — that should be a lot of fun as well. Last year, one agency was there presenting their whiskys but what we’ve decided to do is get not just one, but five different agencies there on the Thursday and really let them highlight their products. The beer of course will still be there — but those five kiosks will really be able to present some amazing whiskys.

KMH: Where are the whiskys from?
JFP: All over, Canada, U.S., Ireland, Scotland, Japan and I think we might even have some from South Africa and Australia.

Also, there are some interesting restaurants that will be there, L’Entre-Pots, Pas d’cochon dans ma salon and even homemade donuts — so we get something like pulled pork and duck confit sandwiches, spaghetti meatballs — it’s going to be everything. You get to taste a beer with a little boucher, and that sandwich with another beer and maybe that whisky on top. It’s nice to try and discover what you can mix and match and how the flavours interact. ■

La Cuvée takes place at Église St-Enfant-Jésus (5039 St-Dominique) on Thursday, Feb. 27, 5 p.m.–midnight, Friday, Feb. 28, 4 p.m.–1 a.m. and Saturday, March 1, 4 p.m.–2 a.m. Entrance costs $10 including their official drink in a reusable plastic cup, or $15 including the official drink in a glass pint. Tickets for tastings are 10 for $10 or $1 each.

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