Montreal's Best Brew Pubs: Score the Finest Local Brewskis
Montreal's Top Brewpubs: From the Standard to the Offbeat
France has its wine, no doubt, and across the pond Quebec most definitely has its beer. Le Mondial de la Bière alone is one of North America's most important beer festivals, a Montreal event serving up hundreds of different brews to 160,000 visitors under one convention centre roof five days every June.
As for the rest of the year, Montreal's extensive assortment of breweries and brewpubs propose hundreds of their own creative flavors, microbrews copiously consumed by locals in-the-know and travelers surprised by the sheer size and quality of Quebec's craft beer scene, one of Canada's best kept secrets.
Dieu du Ciel
The arguable king of Quebec microbrasseries with close to 300 brews listed on RateBeer, Dieu du Ciel –French for God of Heaven– isn't just one of Montreal's favorite brewpubs, it's one of the city's top bars serving a rotating cast of craft beers like fan favorites Aphrodisiaque, a vanilla and cocoa stout, Rosée d'Hibiscus, a Belgian style hibiscus wheat beer, and Disco Soleil, a kumquat India Pale Ale.
There's just one problem with Dieu du Ciel. It's constantly full.
Solution? If you absolutely insist on a spot on its spring and summer terrace, arrive within the first 60 minutes of opening hour and you'll get one –between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. As for indoors at the main bar, you shouldn't have any trouble scoring a seat if you get there by 5:30 p.m., particularly on a weekday. As for any time outside of the aforementioned, cross your fingers and pray for heavenly intercession. You never know what you'll get.
Dieu du Ciel's brews are also readily available in various Montreal dépanneurs, particularly in the Plateau, Mile End, and Rosemont neighborhoods. So if you dropped by but the place was full, you can still taste a few brews. Walk up nearby boulevard St. Laurent one block North. There's an artisanal beer dépanneur with a few Dieu du Ciel six packs for sale.
With an everchanging beer menu, see if you can score Pénombre, an addictive black IPA with caramel notes, Péché Mortel, an imperial coffee stout, or try L'Or des Marais, a creamy seasonal bear composed of sweet gale and cloudberry, a raspberry-like fruit that grows only in cold weather countries with tundra like Russia, Findland, and of course, Canada. Pair your brews with Dieu's food menu: pizza, charcuterie, cheese, and vegetarian platters round out the edibles. Ask staff which brews go best with which dish.
See Also: Montreal's Best Brunch
Located in the bustle of the Latin Quarter, an especially vibrant atmosphere in the spring and summer when pub terraces are full capacity along rue St. Denis, Le Saint-Bock serves some of the best beer in Quebec with close to 50 different housemade microbrews at any one time, gems like Malédiction, a sweet stout served with a marshmallow, and Sanguinaire, a blood orange IPA. Pair a brewski with their beer gravy poutines and beer battered Doigts de Dieu (''God fingers,'' aka sausage corn dogs served with curry ketchup), and you're good to go.
If Belgian beers are your thing, make a bee line to Benelux, a Montreal microbrewery specializing in that smooth, telltale fruity/spicy flavor. With two locations in Montreal –the original is two blocks from Place des Arts in Montreal's entertainment district and the other is in Verdun– count on close to a dozen freshly fermented brews available on tap any given day. IPA, American Pale Ales, brown ales, seasonals, wheat beers, and stouts generally round out. Don't expect zany flavors here but do anticipate classics done right and often with a twist.
Located on Duluth Street on the Plateau, one of the few cobblestone roads in the city outside of Old Montreal, Le Réservoir is a two-floor pub and a bistro just off the Main, serving roughly a dozen housebrewed microbrews at a time, beers like wild blueberry saaz pilsner and whiskey weizen.
A hot weekend brunch destination, scan the food menu for elegant dishes like mackerel served with turnips, mussels, and wild rice and trout with smoked sour cream and juniper. Or keep it simple with a grilled cheese or beef jerky. It's all good. Sit near the open windows or on the upstairs terrace in the summer.
On rue Bernard in Mile End on the edge of Outremont is HELM, a microbrasserie with a dozen different house brews on tap, from stouts to pilsners and bitters as well as specialties like Ginger B, a ginger-infused wheat beer, and Fairmount, a honey cream ale. Ciders, hard liquor, and mixed drinks are also on the menu, including an elaborate seafood bloody caesar. Get the salmon tartare while you're there. Popular place. Everyone from suits to hipsters ends up here.
An iconic Montreal microbrewery if only for its namesake, the Belgian style white wheat beer that goes by the same name as the pub is available in nearly every supermarket and dépanneur in the city.
Incidentally, Cheval Blanc is one of Montreal's older microbrasseries, in brewing operation since 1987 which according to management, involved the first craft beer brewing permit of its kind in Quebec.
Serving up sour raspberry beer, a handful of German styles as well as Irish stout, barley wine, ales, and IPA, the food menu is short –Hungarian sausage dog, bachos, grilled cheese with goat cheese, nuts, cheese, and olives– but good. Cheval Blanc is located in the Latin Quarter near both the Gay Village, and Plateau Mont-Royal.
Vices et Versa
South of Little Italy on boulevard Saint-Laurent is Vices et Versa, a charming pub that doesn't brew its own beer. Rather, it curates. A selection of 35 beers from a variety of Quebec microbreweries is ripe for the picking on its taps, with creative burgers and beer gravy poutine as well as fried calamari, nachos, and vegan burgers available on the food menu. In warmer months, the pub opens up its gorgeous tree-lined backyard terrace.
L'Amère à Boire
One of Montreal's older brewpubs, L'Amère à Boire is a Latin Quarter pub on rue St. Denis that's been around since 1996 and focuses its brewing energies on producing beers of the thirst-quenching variety. Czech, German, American, and British styles take center stage.
Quesadillas, duck wings, codfish nuggets, burgers, nachos, cold cut platters and vegetarian options are available on the food menu. Refreshing mix of students and older patrons. Two small terraces –one in front, the other in back– open up come spring.
In Rosemont just west of La Petite Patrie with a second location further north in Ahuntsic, Pub Brouhaha is a favorite local haunt featuring two dozen different beers from various Quebec microbreweries on tap as well as Brouhaha house brews like cranberry and raspberry white beer and a tempting peppery seasonal, not to mention an impressive selection of whiskey.
Brouhaha's food menu is pure carnivorous comfort, with house smoked meat, smoked ribs, smoked duck wings, and smoked pulled pork rounding out its specialties. The poutines are also raved about and Brouhaha's pizzas are made with beer crust (vegan option available).
Conventiently located in downtown Montreal on Crescent Street just south of Ste. Catherine Street, Brutopia is a predominantly English-speaking brewpub spread out on two floors near most of the city's top Irish pubs serving up microbrews like its popular Raspberry blonde ale, nut brown ale, and chocolate stout. Food menu includes quarter pound burgers, chicken wings, nachos, and vegetarian fare like samosas, veggie quesadillas, and pesto and goat cheese sandwiches. Lots of entertainment with trivia nights on Mondays and live music every night as of 10 p.m.