The 20th anniversary of the Montreal Beer Fest is just around the corner. This year between May 29th and June 2nd the Beer Festival moves to Palais des Congrès and the exterior terrace (l’Esplanade). One of my favourite times to experience new beers and invite friends to expand their beer palate.
This year, more than 550 products will be available for tasting with more than 120 breweries exhibiting. There will be 229 new beers to try that have never exhibited at the beer festival.
The festival will be open starting Wednesday to Saturday from 11:00am to 10:00pm and the last day will be on Sunday from 11:00am to 8:00pm. Palais des Congrès is located at 1001, Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle and the terrace is located on De la Gauchetière Street between Chenneville and Côté. Admission is free and tasting coupons are $1 each (beer tastings range from 2-6 coupons normally, average around 3). You can bring your own glass for tasting (12 ounces or less) and plastic cups will also be available. Normally, the 4 ounce souvenir tasting glass is $10 but there is no mention of it on the website this year.
There is more to talk about in the coming week before the launch. Including participating restaurants and activities during the beer fest. I will do a daily trickle of information as we approach.
Lastly, during the festival I will be relaunching the website. I’ve had a lot of time to think about where to find the time and what to do with the website. I plan to do less regular updates with more in depth content. Starting on Wednesday, May 29th, I will begin to update on a regular schedule with beer tastings and reviews, craft beer information and occasional beer news.
Unibroue, a local Quebec brewery, has been awarded the World’s Best Belgian Style Witbier title at the World Beer Awards in London U.K. It was the brewery’s Blanche de Chambly which took the award. It has the distinction of being the top beer out of about 600 beers that were entered from 32 countries in a blind taste test. Blanche du Chambly is a classic wheat beer that is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and third time being recognized at the World Beer Awards, winning World’s Best Spiced Wheat Beer last year and America’s best Spiced Wheat Beer in 2010.
“The fact that our creativity and brewing expertise keep being recognized”, says Sylvain Bouchard, beer sommelier at Unibroue, “after having garnered over 185 international awards for our products, such as La Fin du Monde, Quelque Chose, Terrible, Maudite, Trois Pistoles, Unibroue 17 and Éphémère Apple, only reinforces our position as a leader among the world’s brewers.”
Hops keep chickens healthy
Chicken guys were a primary source for meat contamination until scientists discovered that adding hops to a coop’s diet will prevent pathogenic bacteria from infecting the chickens’ stomachs and intestinal tracts just as effectively as lo-level antibiotic treatments.
They are your homebrew’s best friend.
Hops can be toxic to dogs.
Keep your hops away from your dogs. When a canine consumes hops it causes malignant hyperthermia, which may lead to dangerously high temperatures or even death.
Farmers in the Appalachian region use hops as a sleep aid.
When insomnia strikes, they fill their pillows with hops to help them snooze. Other known medicinal properties include healing flesh wounds, curing syphilis and when smoked, improving symptoms of glaucoma.
I’m not sure about smoking them and not every likes the aroma of hops but if you do, I can see how it soothing.
When hops are fresh off the vine, they have 70% moisture and can mold within three days.
I like to keep my fresh hops in the freezer in air tight bags.
The hop bine is a perennial flowering plant that can take up to three years to mature.
Hops were first added to beer to keep it from spoiling, not for flavour
when brewers realized hops had antiseptic powers they were able to lower alcohol content in their beers, which meant they didn’t have to use as much grain – so production costs were lower, and profits were higher.
The first documented hop yard dates back to the year 736, and was found on a monastery in Bavaria.
There are two main hop types – bittering and aroma.
Bittering hops have a higher concentration of alpha acids and are mostly responsible for the bitter flavor in beer. Aroma hops have a lower concentration of alpha acids and contribute to aroma and non-bitter flavours.
Germany is the only country in the world producing more hops than the U.S. with 43,818 acres dedicated to the crop. (The U.S. has 30,016 acres)
The majority of the world’s commercial hop production occurs between latitudes 35 and 55 degrees, either north or south of the equator because day length during the growing season has a major effect on yield.
Hop vines can grow up to one foot a day.
If you are planning on being in Virginia in the month of August (like I plan on) then you are in luck. Virginia has dedicated the whole month of August to craft beers. There are a tonne of events happening at brew pubs and breweries located across Virginia.
There is a website at virginia.org/CraftBeer/ that shows all of these events, all of the breweries and brewpubs available.
The month long festivities will culminate in Virginia’s first ever craft beer festival, all day on the 25th of August. It is being held at Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company (200 Mosbys Run Roseland, VA 22967)
I may not be able to attend many of these events the week that I am in Virginia, but there is a Dogfish Head brewpub literally MINUTES away from where I’ll be staying. So I may just enjoy my own craft brew week there.
Our most popular beer! A smooth amber ale. Medium bodied and bursting with flavour, this beer is clean to the finish.
It is what it says… A nice amber/gold colour with a frothy cream coloured head that lingers.
First thing you get is fruit. Not only are there some nice refreshing citrus notes, but also a hint of banana. All in all, it is pretty inviting.
This is a great summer amber ale! With the fruit notes coming in from the aroma are nicely balanced with a slight nutty-caramel flavor as well with some light hops. It goes down smooth with a slight bitter aftertaste but an overall crisp taste.
A great amber ale. This is the type of summer beer you want. You don’t realize that you’ve finished your first pint and you’re back in for a second. It is very refreshing but enough subtle flavors to keep you intrigued and wanting more. This would be a good compliment to some spicy backyard BBQ.
Unfortunately it is only available out in the Prairies and West, but if you stumble upon it be sure to grab some.
About Nick Collicutt
Nick is a guest author who travels across Canada and has access to the wonderful craft beers our country has to offer.
Aging beer is a bit of beer geek activity that most people don’t bother with. You’re not going to age a lager from the local dépanneur but some of the bigger craft beers on the market start to receive nice nuanced changes in flavour over time. I enjoy experimenting on my homebrews to see how aging adds character and mellows out flaws in my beer. Aging normally mellows off flavours and hop flavours while enhancing malt flavours. Hard and fast, you want to age big alcoholic malty beers and not your IPA. Dogfish Head has a good article with a few tips for aging beer.
Beer won’t spoil.
Beer isn’t milk and it won’t go bad. The flavour just changes. You might not like the change in flavours (and it might change for the worst depending on style and aging conditions) but you don’t have to worry about getting sick off it. I wouldn’t open an old bottle of Molson Ex that has been in and out of the fridge though.
Oxidation is to beer as the Joker is to Batman, archenemies. Oxidation will turn your beer tasting like last weeks edition of the newspaper. Light and heat speed up oxidation, so store beer in a cool, dark place. Keep the bottles upright in your basement or in a refrigerator set between 10°C and 13°C.
High-alcohol beers tend to age better.
Lie mentioned above, typically larger beers age better. Dogfish Head recommends beers that are 10% ABV and higher and have big dark malt profiles. Higher ABV beers will begin to mellow out and produce a velvety finish after aging.
Don’t underestimate fresh.
Some beers just don’t work with aging. IPA’s and fruit beers notably. Those flavours begin to fade into the background and lose their main characteristic. That being said, there are no rules so experimenting helps. Dogfish Head recommends their 120 Minute IPA which begins to develop sweet sherry and marmalade notes.
A little experimentation goes a long way.
Like mentioned above, you will need to experiment. Taste is subjective and your mileage will vary depending on a factor of conditions. Best thing to do is buy a few bottles and drink one fresh. Store the rest and pull them out at six month intervals. If you don’t like the direction aging takes your beer you can stop or if if you do you can age another six months. Part of the fun of drinking craft beer is that there isn’t no stringent rules to be followed. Go crazy with it and find out what you like.
Turns out IKEA is brewing its own beer to be sold in all countries at their store. Two types are available, a light (ljus) and a dark (mörk) beer will be offered in 330ml bottles and weight in at 4.75% ABV. I have no idea if the beer is akin to their furniture (as in cheap and not very well crafted), but the reviews don’t look great online. Drinkable, a bit sugary and one reviewer said it tasted like cardboard. Perhaps they barrel age the beer in unused pressboard from their side tables.
All jokes aside I’m a bit curious to try it with some Swedish meatballs.
It’s hard to find a Dieu du Ciel beer that I do not like. Every time I go to a speciality beer store and they have bottles I’ll try to pick some up. Their brewpub is definitely a place every Montrealer should visit on a regular basis. Like the other white beers featured here lately, summer is the perfect time for them. So let’s hurry up and crack into this bottle.
Blanche du Paradis is a Belgian-style Wit brewed with coriander seeds and Curaçao orange peels, the spices traditionnally found in this classic style. Unfiltered and containing almost as much raw wheat as malted barley, it presents a veil of yeast and proteins giving this style its “Blanche” name. Round and light at the same time, it exhales fresh baked bread aromas, and reveals spices and citrus flavours, accompanied by subtle notes of acidity coming from the wheat.
The Blanche du Paradis was born in our Montreal brewpub in May 1999
Pours a dull straw yellow with a lot of haze. Cloudy white three finger head that dissipates quickly. Very nice lacing. This is a bottle conditioned beer. Classic white beer look.
Strong yeast aroma. Bread and wheat along with some spiciness. A little bit of the orange peel makes its way through. Very simple and delicate aroma. Nothing jumps out at you. Still very appealing though.
The smooth and creamy mouth feel is the first thing I noticed. It has a peppery and slight hop middle and a very subdued bitterness at the end. Good balance of spices and the slight citrus from the orange. Very little aftertaste and very fresh tasting.
This is a well rounded white beer. Perfect for the style without doing anything out of the ordinary. Perfect for a summer session beer. What I like the most about this beer is that it is not thin or watery like a lot of other white beers I’ve had. It has a nice solid body. This is hands down a go to white beer and a perfect example of the style. It’s a little difficult to get your hands on it but if you can pick it up.
I’m a big fan of Unibroue beers and this is an easy one to pick up in stores. The first time I’ve had it was at a restaurant where I ordered both versions of Éphémère, apple and blackcurrant, for my girlfriend and I. I had the blackcurrant and thoroughly enjoyed it. Since this is an easy enough beer to find in most grocery stores and white beers are perfect for summer drinking, I decided to pick up a case.
Éphémère Pomme is made in honor of this great fruit. Its lively effervescence, fresh and refreshing taste as well as its Granny Smith apple nose combine to offer you a unique sensory experience. It pairs extremely well with goat’s milk, cheeses, pork or duck. It has known such a success that you will now be able to appreciate its taste all year long.
Golden and hazy in colour with yeast cloudiness. Large three to four finger frothy white head. It dissipates rather quickly. Expected for a white beer. Really good lacing and a lot of carbonation streaming off the bottom of the glass.
Not as much apple in the aroma as I would have expected. I get a very spicy and yeasty aroma. Ginger and nutmeg are more prevalent. The apple is more subdued, but it is definitely akin to a granny smith apple. The aroma itself is sour. Reminds me a little bit of the Jolly Rancher candies. The spices and yeast definitely play a larger role here.
Again, as expected from the aroma, there are more spices in the taste. Ginger is more noticeable than the nutmeg. The apple flavours are more subtle. A very nice mix of sweet and tart going on. The body is very thin and watery (almost a bit grainy as well) and there is a lot of small bubbles in the carbonation. Expect to burp a few times. A bit of a dry and lingering aftertaste. This is where the tart green apple flavour shines. The aftertaste will stick with you for awhile and it’s a bit yeasty as well. The longer it lingers the less pleasant it becomes.
This is a decent beer but it’s not a favourite. I think the spiciness from the yeast overwhelms the beer in the wrong direction, masking a lot of the interesting apple flavour. The aftertaste also lingers too long in a bad way. On top of that, for some reason, the carbonation just does not sit well with me. I’m not opposed to drinking it but I don’t think I would go out of my way to have this again, especially when it’s counterpart, Éphémère Blackcurrant is better in my opinion.
All that being said, I think this beer would really work in conjunction with some nice goat and stinky cheeses. But I’m not reviewing a beer coupling, just how it stands on its own.
How many times have you been somewhere and haven’t had a bottle opener to get into that sweet, sweet beer? There is a instructables how-to for opening a bottle with a newspaper, but all you basically need to do is create a lever with your hand and a sturdy object. You can definitely get some ideas from an early post. Or, I suppose, you can always use a chainsaw, but I don’t recommend it. See below.