Sunday, 10 June 2012

Mondial de la Bière 2012 in Review: The Event Before the Brews

Montreal's Mondial de la Bière may not quite be over - with today as the final day for the 19th annual event, but it is for me, so I will begin to offer my extensive thoughts now with beer reviews pending (in multiple posts by broad style categories) as I encourage many of you to check out its final day!

The event itself is simply excellent.  The beer selection (in quantity and quality - including rare gems from around the globe and a total of 637 offerings including a few meads and ciders) is unparalleled at any event I have as yet attended.  There is super food on site (including solid and kangaroo sausages, massive prawns in a chili-blackpepper-garlic-coriander sauce that was remarkable, fondue, churros, and much, much more!).

A special note of praise for the media handling of the event (Thanks, Katia and staff!), to the excellent barstaff in the Mezzanine, and to those brewers/brewer reps/brewery staff who know how to brighten a mood while filling a glass and sharing information in a welcoming way.  I am thinking specifically of:

Microbrasserie Charlevoix (esp. Luc Van Steene)
Beau's All Natural Brewing (esp. Laura)
The Vermont Brewers Association
The barkeeps at Le Petit Pub Oktoberfest

Those who go that extra mile deserve that special mention, and though I can't definitively say that my reviews won't be subconsciously twinged by their kindness (find me one without acknowledged bias, and I'll point out the most biased amongst us!) I promise to try to limit this.  That said, I can assure you that, kindness or not, Beau's and Charlevoix already had well-deserved special places in my heart on my palate and their remarkable people are an additional credit to these fine breweries that, through a personal touch, only add to the joys of phenomenal craft beer.

As always, there were a few slight cons to the event: the food was way too pricey, many great beers cost 5-6 tickets ($5-6 dollars) for a third of a bottle (yet the rarity of the offering made up for most of that), the venue (Place Bonaventure) has no windows for outside light, is made of drab grey concrete, echoes horrifically, and is generally a bit less than desireable if plenty spacious, and many, many great beers on my MUST TRY list were sold out by the evening of the second day (and perhaps sooner).  For a five day event, this was fairly sad and by Saturday, many of the 'pubs' had but 35-50% of their advertised selection (fortunately I went on Day 2 and Day 4!)  Perhaps some better planning in this regard would be great.  Hell, it's not like leftover beer would go to waste and could find it's way into a store or perhaps the day after could have a regular price (or even jacked up) sale of unsold stock to the public?  (I know it may not conform to import laws, but if they can serve them, why not and if not legal, that seems like a fair law change to me!)

Regardless, the event was a resounding success and next year, I hope to come for more!  Stay tuned as the beer reviews arrive over the coming day(s)!

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