The Best Beers I've Tasted at Montreal's Mondial de la Bière
Some of the best beers I've ever tasted have been at the Mondial de la Bière, aka the Montreal Beer Festival, one of the city's most popular annual events. In 2017, the Mondial runs from June 14 to June 18, 2017.
Proposing over 500 different kinds of beer under the same roof, it would be borderline impossible not to find one of interest.
Then again, some of you do not actually like beer. I thought I belonged to that group after a sophomoric evening lubricated with Bull Max sealed the deal many moons ago until, years later, a sip of Belgian white opened my taste buds to a world of fermented wheat I wasn't aware existed.
And then I met the Mondial de la Bière's answer to wine sommeliers, resident beerologist and École de biérologie MBière professor Serge Noël, who introduced me to most of the brews that made the following rave list, leading me to appreciate a beverage far more complex and sophisticated than I'd previously given it credit.
Best Beer #1: Gouden Carolus Cuvée van de Keiser Blauw
Best Beer #1: Gouden Carolus/Het Anker Cuvée van de Keiser Blauw
Dutch for "Cuvée of the Emperor Blue," Gouden Carolus brews this strong dark ale on the same day of every year, on February 24. It's the birthday of Emperor Charles V, who was born in Gent, 79 km (49 miles) west of the brewery's location in Mechelen, Belgium. Notes of caramel, roasted cocoa, cherry and spices, Cuvée van de Keiser Blauw is a stunning find, as close to tasting like wine as a beer can get. There's no bitterness whatsoever and the high alcohol content is somehow subtle on the palate. Mondial de la Bière beerologist Serge Noël says it's his favorite beer and recommends aging it for up to 5 years to help it reach its peak. Yet I can't imagine it could get even better than the year-old sample I tried. A must-buy.
Alcohol content: 11%
Cuvée van de Keiser Blauw is not available in Quebec stores but can be imported through the Mondial de la Bière. Call (514) 722-9640 for or email email@example.com for more information.
Best Beer #2: El Mole Ocho
Best Beer #2: New Holland Brewing Company's El Mole Ocho
Inspired by Mole poblano, a Mexican sauce generally paired with poultry, El Mole Ocho is a high fermentation hybrid brew. In other words, it's hard to classify, though it's considered a spiced brown ale. Aged in oak barrels, El Mole Ocho has a strong, chocolatey aroma. A complex, almost creamy texture, the taste starts off as a sweet, malty flavor which reveals hot chili peppers as it goes down. There's no bitter aftertaste. A unique gem of a brew, you either love it or loathe it. According to beerologist Serge Noël, it pairs well with grilled chicken.
Alcohol content: 8%
El Mole Ocho is not available in Quebec stores but can be imported through the Mondial de la Bière. Call (514) 722-9640 for or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Best Beer #3: Keto RePorter
Best Beer #3: Birra del Borgo's Keto RePorter
Think beer that tastes like a glass of chilled coffee, as brewed by the North Italian company. Birra del Borgo's Kentucky tobacco-infused porter apparently works with shellfish though it definitely has the guise of a dessert beverage, perhaps paired with chocolate mousse or tiramisu. A dark brown, almost black appearance, Keto RePorter is rich, smokey and malty, with notes of roasted coffee ending with a mildly bitter finish.
Alcohol content: 5.2%
Keto RePorter is not available in Quebec stores but can be imported through the Mondial de la Bière. Call (514) 722-9640 for or email email@example.com for more information.
Best Beer #4: Bog Water
Best Beer #4: Beau's All-Natural Brewing Company's Bog Water
I am crazy about this beer. Made by Beau's All-Natural Brewing Company out in Vankleek Hill, Ontario, about a one-hour drive west of Montreal, Bog Water, as with all of the family run brewery's creations, is a 100% organic beer with a twist. A medieval twist. Bog water is not made with hops. Rather, the dirty brown ale is brewed with bog myrtle (aka sweet gale), a popular herb used to brew beer until the Bavarian Purity Act of 1516 outlawed it. Bog water goes down so easy with a barely-there bitterness and added spice courtesy of the bog myrtle. Beau's recommends pairing it with banana split, Kielbasa sausage and blue cheese.
Alcohol content: 11%
Beau's All-Natural Brewing Company's Bog Water is not available in Quebec stores but can imported through the Mondial de la Bière. Call (514) 722-9640 for or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The brewery can easily be reached by car from Montreal.
Best Beer #5: Le Saint-Bock
Best Beer #4: Le Saint-Bock
I love love LOVE Le Saint-Bock, a Montreal brewpub which serves up what I consider to be the most original brews to come out of Quebec. And although my favorite beer of the lot is Le Saint-Bock's Enigma, a strong, maple syrup fermented barley wine aged in Port barrels for six months, I wanted to bring Malédiction to your attention, a sweet stout served with marshmallow. Yes. Marshmallow. Appearance is opaque black, the smell screams of chocolate, and the taste meshes burnt cocoa, coffee and vanilla. Very sweet. The kind of brew you try at least once.
Alcohol content: 5%
Le Saint-Bock's brews are readily available in Montreal. Just visit their brewpub in the Latin Quarter.