AUG/SEP 2005 | REGIONAL | INTERNATIONAL
||Mondial Rocks Montreal
By Tom Dalldorf
Multilingual Montreal spoke one language fluently during
this summer's Mondial de la Bière — the language
of beer! The 12th edition of this seminal beer event for North
America took place June 1–5, 2005, and the attendance
was reported to be over 80,000 people — up some 6 percent
from 2004. The majority of attendees come from Québec
and environs, but increasingly there is a truly international
feel to the turnout. Americans and Europeans have discovered
the malty mother lode in Montreal.
Held in the beautiful old downtown train station Garr Windsor,
the festival uses both indoor and outdoor areas to maximum
effect. Tented booths line the expansive halls, offering tastes
of exotic beers, foods, ciders and distilled products, with
several areas dedicated to seminars and educational presentations.
Harried commuters stop to see the odd gathering of beer lovers,
and many stop to join in. They were amply rewarded for their
The mission of the Mondial de la Bière is "to
return beer to its place of honour among the pleasures of
the table, offering to local and international consumers the
chance to discover beer from around the world, and at all
times promoting its responsible and moderate use." To
this end, the festival allocates considerable resources to
education and beer appreciation. The Celebrator's
own Stephen Beaumont hosted a Beer and Food Pairing, Fred
Eckhardt talked about craft brewing, and Portland's Beer Goddess
Lisa Morrison discussed beer for women. Charlie Papazian from
the Brewers Association in Boulder, Colo., presented a seminar
on Old Traditions and New Trends in Beer Styles. Tony Forder
of Ale Street News did a seminar on the Belgian Influence.
Several other speakers conducted presentations in French.
A bilingual "debate" was, shall we say, contrived
to generate some discussion and audience participation. The
subject, "Is there a truly craft-brewed beer, and is
it better than mass-produced beer?" was batted about
by a stellar panel of beer experts, including authors Ray
Beauchemin and Claude Bolvin and publishers Ben Vinken (Beer
Passion), Julie Bradford (All About Beer), Bill
Metzger (Brewing News Publications) and yours truly
(Celebrator Beer News). Panel director Mario D'Eer
made sure no blood was shed.
Americans and Europeans
have discovered the malty mother lode in Montreal.
Canada’s largest beer festival has gained a reputation
for celebrating food and drink with panache and flair. Among
products featured at this year's festival were some 360 different
beers from over 90 international breweries, delicious Québec
ciders, a few distilled products and a variety of food selections,
including some credible frites. The winners of the Mondial
de la Bière festival’s prestigious beer contest
were announced on the last day of the beer festival. A complete
list is available on the fest Web site, festivalmondialbiere.qc.ca.
Among the winners were the incredible Blanche du Cheval Blanc
in the Belgian-style beer category and Amourette (a raspberry
flavoured wheat beer) from craft brewers Dieu du Ciel! in
the Fruit/Honey-style beer category. Another beer by Dieu
du Ciel!, an ale called Tordeuse, received a special mention.
The awards are chosen by popular vote of the attendees.
“At this festival, people can tell the brewers about
their beer,” said Jeannine Marois, president of Mondial
de la Bière. “This is how new tastes get on to
The nightlife in Montreal is compelling. Within walking distance
of the Mondial or a short cab ride away are many fine pubs,
superb restaurants and some excellent brewpubs.
My favorite for inventive beer has to be Dieu du Ciel! (God
in Heaven!). Brewmaster Jean-Francois Gravel is as talented
as he is inventive.
I was most impressed with his Northwest-style IPA —
a beer that nailed the genre. I found him at his booth the
next day and congratulated him on it. "Would you like
to try it cask-conditioned?" he asked nonchalantly. That
draught, poured fresh and pure from cask, turned out to be
my "best of the fest!"
I also enjoyed revisiting Le Cheval Blanc and retasting its
Blanche. The first time I tried it, I was with fellow publisher
Bill Metzger, and we both agreed that this might be the best
Belgian-style wit beer in the world. No small praise, indeed.
And the beer is still that good!
Other brewpubs in the inner city include Brutopia, Les 3
Brasseurs, L'Amère à Boire, Le Réservoir
and Le Sergent Recruteur. There are more if you have the time.
You can spend a lot of time and much cab fare exploring all
of Montreal, but a day at the Mondial de la Bière gives
you a comprehensive overview of most of the beers of eastern
Canada and some of the best from around the world. Perhaps
I'll see you next year for the 13th edition.
Tom Dalldorf is publisher and editor of the
Celebrator Beer News.