Canada The Montreal Thread

Discussion in 'Beer Travel, Events and Releases' started by kzeon, Apr 1, 2016.

  1. kzeon

    kzeon

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2014
    Location:
    Montreal, Québec, Canada
    So, I figured out it was about time to make a Montreal thread here!

    But first, let’s clarify a few things upfront:
    • Yes, everything you’ve heard about strippers is true.
    • Yes, the bars are closing at 3am
    • Yes, you can hit HF if you have access to a car. It’s about 2 hours away from downtown. Just plan the customs accordingly regarding quantities and limits
    • Yes, I write both Montréal/Montreal and Québec/Quebec (having to use multiple keyboard layouts sucks)
    • Yes, Québec is very big and....
    • No, Montreal is not the capital of Quebec
    • No, I never encountered a polar bear in the streets. Nor a reindeer.
    • No, you don’t have to speak French to be understood in Montreal, forget all the drama you heard about this, it’s all fake (speaking French with an English accent does help picking up chicks though)
    • No, Loons don’t grow on trees here. Sadly.
    • No, winter doesn’t last 9 months. (FYI, not the reason why Loons don’t grow on trees)
    • No, we don’t travel using dog sleigh
    • Go Habs Go, Tabarnack!
    Montreal!
    The local beer scene has been exploding in the past few years. Every month, you hear the name of one or two microbrewery you’ve never heard of before. There are multiple reason for it, but the biggest one is the fact that the government grants a lot of tax breaks for microbreweries and “supports” the industry in numerous ways. One of this way is to pretty much forbid anything from outside Quebec to be sold on the shelves (we’ll come back to this later on).

    Long winters and large family also helped towards making food and boozy beverages a centerpiece of our culture and heritage. Despite this amazing boost on the beer scene, it also led to a tremendous amount of breweries with boring or simply bad beer offers (some of them being around for years and still doing business). Nonetheless, the beer scene is hot and popularity for craft beer is exploding (like everywhere…).

    Since Québec is pretty big, there aren’t many breweries downtown Montreal. Most of them require a car (and many of them are far from Montréal). The good news is that there’s many nice bars or beer store in Montréal, and more and more are opening every year. So you can find the offerings of pretty much all microbreweries throughout the city.

    The sad reality
    Local laws are just plain dumb regarding alcohool. To make a long story short, the only craft beer you’ll be able to buy in beer store (dépanneur or specialized beer stores) are beers that a brewed in Québec. Most of the beer sold in grocery store are Molson Coors or Labatt products, nothing to get too excited about (even though this is changing more and more to offer a better portfolio of local products).

    There’s a few exceptions, but that’s pretty much about it regarding craft beer. The laws are super conservative and tends to protect everything local. Even the SAQ (Société des Alcools du Québec), the government-owned beer stores aren’t serious about beer. They only have a handful of beers available, with most of them being belgium ones (dubbel/tripel). They focus on wine and spirits. So the sad reality is that you’re not going to find anything from the states here or other great Canadian beers.

    The best way to get non-Québec beers here is through private imports, trades or trips to Vermont ;) Private imports are expensive since you’re buying whole cases at once and you still can’t really get the limited stuff easily (Cantillon, 3F, Tilquin, etc). Plus, the exchange rate just kills us.

    Sorry for this long introduction, but I figured out it was worth explaining our reality a little bit and help you understand why the offering might be different than the one you might have seen anywhere else in the country!

    What to ISO or drink
    Of course, there's so many options, but here's a list of breweries that have great stuff in general and with which you'll never really be disappointed.
    • Dieu du Ciel: the most consistent brewery. Not the most innovative these days, though. Nothing is bad, it’s Québec’s flagship here regarding beer, not much to add I think.
      Auval: The latest and hotest brewery around and it’s gonna be this year’s disrupt. Started as a project by Pit Caribou’s head brewer, all their products are great and put to shame the competition. Keep an eye open, they disappear from the shelves within minutes.
    • Pit Caribou: They’ve been around for several years. A lot of good products, but they have more and more great special offerings that make heads turn
    • Le Castor: One of the great brewery that ramped up in the past years. They have a good pace and release good quality stuff. A fresh Yakima IPA is always a great option!
    • Le Trou du Diable: They have a good barrel aging process. Their regular beers are average, but their special releases (Brassin Spécial) are great.
    • Les Trois Mousquetaires: A well balanced brewery that explores some interesting styles once in a while. They’ve been trying a bunch of new stuff in the past 18 months with good reception.
    • Dunham: Probably the most innovative brewery in terms of style in the past years, but their polish level is sometimes not completely there. Their regular special release are usually good. People either love or hate them, you choose.
    • Unibroue: One of the oldest microbrewery here. Owned by Sapporo now, they’re not innovating or releasing new stuff really. Existing stuff is well executed though.
    A few breweries that do decent stuff in general, but do not really have any special releases:
    • Boquébière
      Microbrasserie Charlevoix
    • MABRASSERIE
    • Frampton Brasse
    • À l'abri de la Tempête
    • Hopfenstark
    • HopEra
    • Kruhnen
    Where to drink beer
    In bars, you can have a little bit more luck with non-local beer. The trend of seeing kegs and some nice bottles from US breweries increase, and at least, that’s a good thing.

    Here’s a list of good places to drink in town:
    • Vice Versa (https://goo.gl/Wnzfu4) - Most likely the best place in town. They often have guest bottles from US breweries, great tap selection and food is good too. You have to go if you come to Montréal!
    • Isle de Garde (https://goo.gl/7fAyRb) - This place opened not too long ago, but hey have a great tap list with a lot of rotation and a nice bottle selection!
    • St-Bock (https://goo.gl/kouAEk) - One of the best place in Montréal to grab a beer. Good selection of bottled beer, though don’t expect the crazy big boozy BA american stuff. Food is good. Get there early (or late), especially in the summer. Friday’s 6pm will get you a solid lineup.
    • Dieu du Ciel (https://goo.gl/rI2Nci): Québec’s flagship brewery. They’re tap/cask list is often updated via their Facebook fan page. It’s pretty small though, so get there early (or late) or be patient, especially in the summer.
    • Benelux (https://goo.gl/hDZWgE) and (https://goo.gl/tr7UKn): Classic bar in Montreal. They brew good stuff, good locations.
    • Bier Markt (https://goo.gl/tEZR1b) - Downtown, good location. They always have some nice things on tap, including two Dieu du Ciel offering and a small bottle selection of imports. However, it’s expensive for no reasons other than “being downtown and look classy”.
    • Cheval Blanc (https://goo.gl/vWTfZu) - A classic beer pub in MTL. They make good stuff.
    • Station Ho.St (https://goo.gl/xSGS0W) - Further away, but a nice not too known beer place. They brew nice funky stuff.
    • BroueHaHa (https://goo.gl/5eCPUj)
    • Harricana (https://goo.gl/vbqKK2)
      etoH (https://goo.gl/se1u1w)
    • Espace Publique (https://goo.gl/Uy6gZE)
    • Balthazar: there’s two locations, right outside of Montreal, in the suburbs. Good beer selection and food, just not close to downtown, however
    • La Distillerie (https://goo.gl/IXvZiL) - Classic bar in MTL. They make crazy drinks. You can just tell the barman your liquor preferences and he will create a drink for you. The big Mason jar for the drinks are expensive, but trust me, there's a shit load of alcohol in there. Great drinks, just expensive. Fun experience though. Be there early, in loads with a lot of hipsters at night
    Where to buy local craft beer
    There’s a lots of place, will try to give a list of the best places that gets most of the releases.

    Food Wise
    Montreal is one of those great city regarding food. There’s plenty of amazing options for cheap comfort food as well as a load of expensive (but refined) restaurants, too.
    • Food trucks - they’ve haven’t been around for a long time, but there’s many amazing ones. Some are a little expensive, but you can get crazy good stuff and the experience is pretty unique. Don’t expect them too much during winter.
    • Joe Beef (https://goo.gl/iRT740) & Queue de Cheval (https://goo.gl/ry9FQt) - classic steakhouses. Not much to add.
    • La Banquise (https://goo.gl/W8pJtv) - What’s better than a large poutine? A large poutine at 3:00am to end a good evening drinking beer)
    • Schwartz (https://goo.gl/s0Jt2X) - Classic rubens. Owned by Céline Dion’s husband. Incredibly better than her music
    • Moishes (https://goo.gl/Uzc5dF) Another good reference for those steakhouse meat lovers
    • Café Olympico (https://goo.gl/WZqUq4) - Very well known café in MTL. Good place, I like it, the crowd is a tad fancy/hipster
    • St-Viateur Bagel (https://goo.gl/PAZc4A)- One of the classic bagel shop. Open 24/7 I think.
    • Fairmount Bagel (https://goo.gl/Ly9cyS) - Another classic bagel shop. Open 24/7 I think.
    • Lola Rosa (https://goo.gl/LtmFc8) - AMAZING vegetarian restaurant. Very cheap too. I'm not vegan at all, but this place is very nice
    • NYKS (https://goo.gl/QJi3zA) - Fun pub with good food. Good option for lunch, they have a few decent beers usually to accompany the food
    • Pizzeria Dei Compari (https://goo.gl/avSL4Q) - Good pizza selection, usually not too crowded, cheap
    • Burgundy Lion (https://goo.gl/M9e22k) - English pub. English food is usually not very awesome, but this is a good exception. Been around for a very long time. Sometimes a little busy on evenings, the prices at nights are a liiiiiittle high for what you get, but it's very cozy, huge whiskey/scotch selection, decent irish/english beer selection. Food is very good though. The breakfast are awesome IMO haha, very cheap too.
    • Toi Moi Café (https://goo.gl/lFskwm) - Simple yet very nice café shop..
    • Bières et Compagnie (https://goo.gl/8JvITN) - This place use to be awesome several years ago. They have a huge bottle selection, but mostly belgian/european stuff... But, the food is good, they have nice burgers, it's not a bad option at all, just not crazy like it used to be.
    • La Petite Marche (https://goo.gl/Q6eLjL) - Nice and simple breakfast place. Pretty big. Food for lunch/dinner is ok. Convinient, somewhat cheap.
    • Tomato (https://goo.gl/3jxeTY) - Fun pizza place, I like it. Used to work right besides, we were nearly camping out there, hah!
    • Romados (https://goo.gl/9y1Nga) - Classic Portugese restaurant. Love it.
    • Chez Doval (https://goo.gl/eSshzJ) - Another classic Portugese restaurant. A tad expensive, but very warm place, friendly, they have typical musicians on evenings often
    • Au Pied de Cochon (https://goo.gl/Snbh81) - RIDICULOUS restaurant. Google it before going haha. And oh, don't eat for the whole day before going ;) A crazy experience!
    • Rodizio (https://goo.gl/pyAgfF) - An all you can eat brazilian restaurant. If you wanna eat a buttload of meat, great place. There's several similar restaurants to this in town, like Milsa. Prefer Rodizio though.
    • Stash Café (https://goo.gl/l0i6rs) - Amazing Polish restaurant. Cozy, friendly, staff is usually blond and good looking ;) Food feels very home made, delicious and not too expensive.
    • Dunn's (https://goo.gl/FNNKDK) - Another classic address. Schwartz is better, IMO, but Schwartz is also wayyyy more busy.
    • Pub Victoria (https://goo.gl/Biu0lo) - Irish pub, busy for lunch given the location. Good portions for food, good beer selection. It's an irish pub hehe, that's pretty much about it
    • Les Canailles (https://goo.gl/rgTMNY) - Nice BYOB restaurant with a french inspiration. Good portions, good prices for a BYOB.
    • Le Valois (https://goo.gl/Ksq2sn) - Great food for a fancy dinner. Nice terrace during summer time.
    Extra tips
    • The weather range a lot between winter and summer. Down to even -30ºC (-22ºF) sometimes during winter and can be over 32ºC (90ºF) during summer time. Be ready. In early spring and fall, the morning can be very chilly but become more than pleasant during the day. Dress with layers!
    • There’s a LOT of events, shows and festival during summer: F1 Grand Prix (get ready for mayhem downtown), Montreal International Jazz Fest, Just for Laughs, Mondial de la bière (beer fest which really has nothing to do with EBF, ACBF, SF Beer Week, etc), Osheaga, and so on. There’s also more and more events now during winter (a lot of them involves hipsters, neckbeards, EDM and Jagermeister), such as Igloofest, Montréal en Lumière, etc. Most of the big events have free shows!
    • Tip is never included. Standard is 15%, before taxes, whether it’s for food or drinks (in restaurants/bars).
    • The city is very open and don't be surprise to see total strangers starting to talk to you in the bar and end up drunk with you at the end of the evening. This happens often, lots of people travel or visit Montreal and people are very easy going.
    Shameless plug
    There’s a few folks from Montréal on TB! If you’re in town, hit us up so we can go grab a few beer and/or do an IP trade. This way we could add stuff to the 6 degrees of Talkbeer thread ;)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2016
    Gene, Farnsworth, PHILIPPE and 12 others like this.
  2. drinkypoo

    drinkypoo

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2013
    Location:
    Windsor/Detroit
    :)

    Also, Benelux for places to drink.
     
    kzeon likes this.
  3. kzeon

    kzeon

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2014
    Location:
    Montreal, Québec, Canada
    True haha, totally forgot about it (even though I work beside the one on Sherbrooke). Added!
     
    drinkypoo likes this.
  4. oldp0rt

    oldp0rt

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2013
    Location:
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    Here's my list of breweries to avoid.

    La Schoune
    - Gueule de Bois
    - Trèfle Noir
    - Alchimiste
    - La Barberie
    - Les Frères Houblons
    - Brasseurs de Montreal
    - Le Grimoire
    - Micro du Lièvre
    - Brasseurs de la Mauricie
    - Micro-Brasserie St Arnould
    - Brasseurs du monde
    - La Tour a bières
    - Multi-Brasses
    - Brasseurs Illimités
    - Kruhnen
    - Bilboquet (to be fair they do have a few exceptions)
    - Du Hameau
    - La Goudale
    - La Voie Maltée
    - Microbrasserie Archibald
    - La Chouape
    - Brasserie Générale
    - Broue Pub Brouhaha
    - Broadway Pub
    - mabrasserie
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2016
    blckout20, kzeon, kumatmebrew and 2 others like this.
  5. Frank

    Frank

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Location:
    #VTmoney
    If you live in the north east, have a passport, and you arent visiting MTL you are doing it wrong.

    Id like to add the Lawrence spots to the food recs, especially their new bar Larrys. Lawrence is great, too, but Larrys is good and casual and a nice value in the plateu.

    Were also big on Le Majestique on St. Laurent for oysters, small plates and natural wines, but its definitely not a beer destination.

    Im a big fan of the DDC space and im a sucker for their dark stuff on nitro (had an aphro there tues night) and benelux. I havent had a ton of experience with the other local brews beyond some tasty Auval offerings at Vices et versa.
     
    drinkypoo and kzeon like this.
  6. Frank

    Frank

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Location:
    #VTmoney
    Also, le mal Necessaire for amazing tiki drinks and flair bartending. Right in Chinatown on st laurent and an easy walk from a lot of popular spots. Drinks til 3.
     
    drinkypoo and kzeon like this.
  7. drinkypoo

    drinkypoo

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2013
    Location:
    Windsor/Detroit
    Had an awesome meal at Hotel Herman last night. HF bottles available and DDC around the corner.
     
    DougOLis and oldp0rt like this.
  8. Frank

    Frank

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Location:
    #VTmoney
    Hotel Herman is on my must hit list.

    I also somehow have not been to Nora Gray yet and need to fix ASAP
     
    drinkypoo likes this.
  9. Frank

    Frank

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Location:
    #VTmoney
    I'm ISO recommendations for good mussel spots if anyone's got any ideas.
     
    holldy01 and oldp0rt like this.
  10. DigDug1810

    DigDug1810

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2013
    Location:
    Cherry Hill
    great post OP!
     
    kzeon, drinkypoo and oldp0rt like this.
  11. Frank

    Frank

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Location:
    #VTmoney
    Going up with the lady and a friend tonight or tomorrow.

    Anyone have any thoughts/insight on Le Fantome? Looking for a spot to do dinner Tues night and it's a last minute reservation there, nora gray, or just bottles of wine and small plates at vin papillon.

    Abitker ?
     
    kzeon and oldp0rt like this.
  12. oldp0rt

    oldp0rt

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2013
    Location:
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    Enjoy Frank
     
    Frank likes this.
  13. blacknyellow20

    blacknyellow20

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2013
    Location:
    Cleveland, OH
    I'll be in Montreal on the 17th and 18th. Looks like Joe Beef happens to be closed both days so what is the next best steak house to hit? Also down to do some IP trades if anyone is looking for stuff from Cle.
     
    kzeon and oldp0rt like this.
  14. Frank

    Frank

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Location:
    #VTmoney
    Moishes is classic but I've never been. I had a great hanger at Foxy last week but it's not really a steakhouse.

    Edit: They also had an amazing sounding lamb on the menu but we went for fire roasted chicken and never looked back.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2016
    blacknyellow20 likes this.
  15. kzeon

    kzeon

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2014
    Location:
    Montreal, Québec, Canada
    Nora Gray and Hoofort still had some bottles as of last week. #justsaying
     
    Frank likes this.
  16. andrewdrinks

    andrewdrinks

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2015
    Location:
    Seattle
  17. Frank

    Frank

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Location:
    #VTmoney
    I'm going there tonight and can ask for sure

    Are you coming stateside or shipping overseas?
     
  18. andrewdrinks

    andrewdrinks

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2015
    Location:
    Seattle
    Shipping overseas this time - it's for my birthday on the 23rd. If you can get hold of one for Peche, I'm sure we could work something out! Cheers Frank
     
    Frank, kzeon and oldp0rt like this.
  19. kzeon

    kzeon

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2014
    Location:
    Montreal, Québec, Canada
    I actually subtly poked somebody that works in the offices out there, will keep you posted, andrewdrinks !
     
    Marc, andrewdrinks and Frank like this.
  20. sp0

    sp0

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2015
    Location:
    Jersey City, NJ
    Great thread! Skiing at Tremblant on 12/29 and 12/30, then spending 12/31 and 1/1 in Montreal for NYE. I haven't been to Montreal in 10 years, but I grew up just across the border in NY. Will definitely come back here for a potential TB meetup.
     
    Frank and oldp0rt like this.