Saturday, 1 March 2014

The Grand Cuvee to Warm the Winter Chills

What a way to spend a Friday night and end the work week!

Montreal's La Cuvée d'Hiver is underway this weekend and shouldn't be missed by beer geeks, beer fans, and fans of a good time alike!  So plan your Saturday night here and, since it's nuit blanche, the bars of Cuvee are open until 2am, whereupon you can roam the art happenings or take the Metro home safely as it runs all night long tonight only.

This Quebec-only beer tasting event takes place in the basement of Église St-Enfant-Jésus.  That's right: in an awesome, old dungeon-esque tunnel-entrance, basement to an architecturally inspiring Mile End church, seen here.  The space itself is gorgeous and inviting, with requisite impermanent bars and food kiosks serving the bustling crowd while bands rock the stage.  Whiskey options abound as well and this year, there is even an IPA bar (next year can we please have a sour bar, a saison bar, and a cask bar?)  In just its second year, this event may approach the top of my list for can't miss Montreal beer marvels.

Entry is merely $10 including a tasting glass, and tokens are $1 each (though many tastes cost 3 to 7 tokens, which can be pricey for a sample, but most servers offer generous pours).

I can't vouch for all of the food, but the pulled pork sandwiches available from opposite the entrance and the donuts nearby made with Le Trou du Diable's Le Sang d'Encre were both delightful.

On the beer front, company kept me from elaborate notes, but I'll offer up the following tips.

Dunham's Imperial IPA (listed at the taps as Imperiale du Vices while listed online as Imperial Galaxy) offers the fruity nose and finely bitter finish without too much excessive malt as I desire in a fine IIPA/DIPA.  Also, though I didn't have it again last night, Dunham's Saison du Pinnacle is a nicely hopped and dry hopped saison of strong character for fans of hops, saisons, and/or just Dunham (and, honestly, who isn't?).

Microbrasserie du Lac Saint-Jean's Chardonnay Barrel Aged tripel, Tante Tricotante, is quite nice coupling the fruity tripel notes with a decent grape must and mild tartness that adds a complexity to a fine Belgian blond beer style.

 Pit Caribou's No. 13 Tennessee Porter was a nice delight for fans of roasty and whiskey-dry goodness in a strong porter.

Boquebiere's Rouge des Cantons always offers some decent funk and a fair Quebec take on the sour Flanders Red style of beer, especially for those unfamiliar with the legendary imports.

Le Castor's Barrel-Aged Catherine imperial stout, was a real treat!  A stellar chocolate nose, with hints of coffee was complemented by a lightly woody and roasty taste with more complexity than I'd have predicted.

The gem of the night for me, alas, was one cask only and devoured, but we can hope it gets brewed again, and that was Les Trois Mousquetaires' Saison Brett.  Don't be sad to have missed it though, because if you go today, Le Trou du Diable promises some l'Ours bottles and more, while Charlevoix's Zinfandel-Aged Porter sounds like something imbibed in heaven.  So get these and tell me what I missed for a change!

This leads to my primary critique, but such is the nature of the beast: the fact that some beers had already sold out, that some were super limited and only being cracked at given times on given days, and that I had already had most that interested me, but some delights shone brightly and as strongly as they burned the fuels of my night they now dampen the tone of my morn.  Alas, I am fine, but won't be returning tonight so please hoist my torch... err... glass in my absence.


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