-The self-proclaimed “most important festival of international beers in North America”
You hve three mroe days (including today – Friday) to sample a world’s worth of beer is go to the Windsor Station and Courtyard (1160 de la Gauchetiere West, metro Bonaventure or Peel). Just buy some tasting coupons ($1 each) and wind your way through a crowd of happy, beer-loving people in a former railway station. It’ll be like walking down Ste-Catherine after the Habs won game 7 all over again. This is such a big event that the wikipedia article about Windsor Station actually mentions it as the home of the beer festival. Talk about tradition. Good thing the trains don’t run out of there anymore, because you should definitely stay away from operating heavy machinery, or, you know, driving anything after a stroll through this Montreal festival.
Like the Festival en Lumiere featured the wines of specific countries, so does this festival of beer. This year’s special representatives are Belgium, Brazil and Italy. I don’t remember a whole lot of good beer in Italy, but maybe I was looking in the wrong places? Besides, if what you sample at the Mondial de la Biere isn’t very good you just pick another beer, or another country. The consistently incredible beer mecca of Belgium is offering 147 different samples, so odds are you’ll like at least 1.
If you somehow make it through all 147 Belgian beers and it gets to the point where you need to sit down, you can go and learn about beer cocktails in a workshop with Philippe Gaïani, or learn how to be a beer writer and judge with Mirella Amato. Or on Saturday and Sunday you can find out how beer goes with nougat and fudge.
Even though Canada is not one of the featured countries, Quebec has a huge representation of beer at the festival. You may be wondering why you’d go to this festival to taste Quebec beers if you live in Quebec and could, in theory, have them any old time. Trois Brasseurs brewpubs are popping up everywhere (even in Toronto), and you expect the micro-brews from L’Amere a Boire or Benelux to be exceptional, but how often can you try 232 Quebec beers in 5 days? I am not suggesting that this be made into a drinking game, just that there will be a whole lot of Quebec options proudly offered under one roof, which is definitely a rare opportunity. Compare your favoure Dieu du Ciel or Ste-Ambroise with something you’ve never heard of. Or if you’ve ever wandered into the best beer Depanneur in the city, or the places in the Atwater and Jean-Talon markets that specialize in Quebec’s hops-y offerings, and found yourself overwhelmed by options, this is your chance to test out a lot of types (you get 1/4 to 1/3 of a beer with every sample) without investing in a full case before you know if you’ll like what you buy.
Oh, and if you really love the experience, consider becoming a member of the International Circle of Malt. I’m not kidding. It costs 18 euros. Or 50 for a corporate membership. Fun for the whole office! Sure beats team-building exercises.
So besides nougat and fudge, what does beer go with? Cheese, apparently. There will even be workshops on beer and cheese pairing. Feel a bit chi-chi to you? Don’t worry, there will also be lots and lots of meat – everything from stag and kangaroo to the mandatory sausages. The cheese might be free, though. The meat will not. What kind of meat goes with the Bikini Blond Lager or Coconut Porter from Maui? Again, not kidding.
Dates: June 2-6, 2010
Hours: Wed-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-8pm
Expect to Pay: $0 – ?, or until your blood alcohol concentration = 0.8%, which is dependent on the number of drinks you have over a course of time, your weight, gender, and if you want to try the pricier beers. Do the math.