From ale to hybrid, brown brew to white, once a year Montreal is graced with the largest beer festival in Canada, the Mondial de la Bière. Attracting around 85,000 people in 2007, every year draws in bigger crowds. The 2013 edition alone attracted 100,000 beer fans. And brews seem to get crazier with every passing year.
In 2017, the Montreal Beer Festival is held from June 14 to June 18, 2017 and is expected to attract over 160,000 visitors primed to taste 500 different beers, ciders, meads, and other alcoholic beverages.
The Mondial debuted in 1994 and since then, festival goers have looked forward to having tasting access to roughly 600 different beers, ciders and other products under the same roof. That roof was originally that of Montreal's Windsor Station, the beer fest's traditional location, which was scrapped in 2011 in favor of the roomier convention space of Place Bonaventure.
But venue swapping was necessary yet again to allow for even more attendees, given that over 160,000 beer drinkers pass through for a taste. So since 2013, beer fans converge under the roof of Montreal's largest convention facility, the Palais des congrès, where the Mondial also holds seminars, workshops and other events apart from the usual tastings throughout the five-day beer event. More details.
With beer giants like Stella Artois and Molson as well as microbreweries sharing the stage, an exceptionally wide array of brewers, beer styles and flavors can be conveniently explored for a reasonable price. Locals and tourists are also likely to discover, if not rediscover, a series of delectable brews by local brasseurs and brewpubs such as:
Montreal Beer Festival 2017: 24th Edition Highlights
In addition to offering up over 500 different beers, meads, ciders and other beverages for taste testing consumption, the Mondial de la Bière typically ensures that more than 200 beers are new to the festival.
Previous years featured deer, kangaroo, bison and wild boar on stick, different breads, cheese appetizers, Bavarian pretzels, poutine, fudge, nougat, smoked meat sandwiches, a variety of sausages and other treats sold on location. In 2017, bison rolls, gourmet popcorn, artisanal fudge, dried sausages, salted waffles, sweet pastries, and cheese twists are among menu highlights.
Pair Chocolates and Cheese With Your Brew
Led by a handful of beerologists, including the ever-knowledgeable and engaging Serge Noël, discover the ins and outs of pairing beer with chocolate. And cheese. Workshops are held throughout the day everyday at the Mondial. Admission to them is free but tasting coupon are required to sample the pairings. Details on the 2017 edition's workshops will be forthcoming as we close in on the dates.
Purchase Tasting Coupons
While admission to the Montreal Beer Fest is free, tasting a brew -offered in two ounce servings- requires coupons which can be purchased on location or in advance, online. Most 2- to 8-ounce servings require anywhere from 2 to 8 coupons. Expect twenty to thirty coupons to last up to two hours at $1 a coupon in 2017 (coupon price in 2017 TBC as we close in on the dates).
Beat the Beer Fest Lineups
Your best bet for avoiding lineups is to pre-purchase beer tasting coupons. Factor in 30 to 60 tickets to cover an evening at the beer fest since it generally costs between 2 and 8 coupons to sample one brew. Samples are usually two ounces each but could be as big as a full glass. Details on pre-purchasing beer coupons here.
And new in 2017 is the end of paper coupons and the beginning of virtual coupons downloaded on a ''connected'' card which can be recharged at different charging stations throughout the beer fest. Kiosks use mobile scanners to charge you for whatever brews are sampled.
Know Your Beer
Loving your Montreal beer fest experience? Bring it s step further and become a beerologist. learn how to smell, taste and know your beer. Teachers from Montreal beer school the École de Biérologie MBière will be at the festival offering workshops and to answer any questions on professional beer certification. Call (514) 722-9640 for more information.
Montreal Beer Festival 2017 Opening Hours (TBC)
noon to 11 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday (June 14 and June 15, 2017)
noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday (June 16 and June 17, 2017)
noon. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday (June 18, 2017)
Consider opting for a cab or use Montreal's public transit system instead of driving to the Montreal beer fest. But if for whatever reason, you intend to have your car with you (calculate how much you can drink and still drive with this tool), sign up for Point Zero 8, a fabulous designated driver service available year-round. Once you sign up, the service is cheaper than a Montreal cab and they'll drive your car home for you, hassle-free!
Free entrance. The Beer Fest tasting glass costs $10 but some festival goers (your humble expert included) swear by the glass over the fest's disposable plastic cups. What can I say? Beer just tastes better in a glass. Remember to purchase tasting coupons for $1 a piece.
Learn more about the Mondial de La Bière, Montreal's primo beer fest. And visit the Montreal Beer Festival Mondial de la bière website for a complete listing of workshops and activities.
*Some of my favorites may or may not be available at the 2017 edition. Make a bee line for beerologist Serge Noël -he usually mans Le Petit Pub Européen at the Beer Fest- and ask the gent for the low down. Tell him About.com's Evelyn Reid, who can still taste her chug of Cuvée van de Keiser Blauw, sent you ;-)
This Montreal Beer Festival profile is for information purposes only. The content herein is editorial and independent, i.e., free of public relations, conflict of interest and promotional bias, and serves to direct readers as honestly and as helpfully as possible. About.com experts are subject to a strict ethics and full disclosure policy, a cornerstone of the network's credibility.