Jukebox beer

Quebec’s beer game has stepped up

Six Quebec beers to check out at this year’s Mondial de la bière festival, which continues through Sunday.

Mondial de la Bière 2015 (640x480)

The many beers of Mondial de la Bière

Of the more than 85 brasseries present at this year’s Mondial de la bière at Palais des Congrès, 40 of them are microbreweries from Quebec.

The big names were there, like les Brasseurs RJ and McAuslan, as were a number of mid-range ones – the kinds that have crept their way into your standard dep or grocery store in recent years, like Archibald and Brasseur de Montreal. Then there were the bar-specific microbrews, like Benelux and Brutopia. There was even one, Oshlag, that’s not opening till 2016.

The Mondial de la bière is supposed to be about bringing beers from around the globe otherwise unavailable to Montrealers, but this year, more than ever, it felt like a showcase for the booming beer scene here. In truth, Quebec was up to the task. We may have started a lap behind our American microbrew counterparts and we’ll never catch up to them volume-wise, but there are plenty of beers chez nous worth getting excited about.

Here are six Quebec beers to check out at this year’s Mondial de la bière. There are 475 beers available this year, so these are merely helpful recommendations if you don’t know where to begin. (If you like Berliner Weisses, you’re in luck.)

Jukebox beer
Jukebox beer

Hopfenstark Station 16: The brewery is in l’Assomption and they have a pub on Ontario E., called Station Ho.st, so get to know them and their extensive line-up. Their Belgian-esque seasonal Station 7 is the one that originally got me hooked, but they’ve already moved up to golden 16 and red 55.

Jukebox Jazz Oak: A fun offshoot brewed at Brasseur de Montréal’s Griffintown home. Not exactly sure what makes this dark American-style amber ale jazzy, but maybe it’s the smoky presentation coupled with the smooth finish. The Double Distortion comes recommended if you like a robust IPA.

Dieu du Ciel! Exorciste aux Mûres: At first blush, one would think a blackberry beer would be a little like a cold mulled wine, but not quite. Potential to go down in history as one of those limited-time Dieu du Ciel! beers that gains mythical status over time.

Farnham 12: Perhaps it’s because I was drowning my sorrows with this particular hefeweizen during this season’s disastrous NHL playoffs, but the big blue can brewed in the town made famous by Arcade Fire’s church studio has been my go-to all spring. Very refreshing and carries a hint of banana.

Oshlag APA #07270: Get a taste of what’s coming from this presumably HoMa-based micro months before the planned launch of their brewpub. Who knows, maybe they’ll become the next big thing?

Brasseurs du Monde Mauvaise Influence: 20.92 per cent extra-strong malt liquor. Just to say you tried it.

And if you’re looking to go international, Fort Collins, CO’s own New Belgium Brewery has a trio of beers to try. Not their famed Fat Tire amber ale, but a pair of Belgians and the fruity Yuzu. Brazil’s back en masse, while the Czechs and Swiss are represented, too. ■

Mondial de la bière continues at Palais des Congrès (1001 Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle) through June 14. Weekday and Saturday hours are 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Entry is free, coupons cost $1 (beers cost between 2 and 8 tickets), tasting goblet $5, souvenir mini-glass mug $10. For more info visit the festival’s website.