Saturday, 30 May 2015

Maneuvering Mondial: Malty Tasker's Guide to Mondial de la Biere 2015

Warmth: a sign of things to come. And no, I am not predicting the weather, rather I am delighting in the switch to beer festival season (known to some as summer) beginning with the mighty Mondial de la Bière 2015.

With 523 alcoholic beverages from which to choose, 475 of them being beers, 85 breweries, 40 Quebec breweries, 16 food pavilions, and an expected 150,000 visitors, how is one supposed to navigate such a crowd and so many options?  Mondial hits Montreal this June 10th through 14th at the Palais des Congrès (3:30pm to 10:30pm Wednesday, 11:30am to 11pm Thursday through Saturday, and 11:30am until 6:30pm Sunday).  As always, admission is free and tickets are $1 each, with most beers costing between 2 and 8 tickets per sample.

This year promises an on-site cask event organized by Benelux, with a delightful cask list including Jukebox Distorsion, Dunham Cyclope Alpha, La Succursale Angus IPAAA, and some yet to be determined.  This event happens from 4-8pm Thursday, June 11th on site, and you must pre-register to take part here.

In the past, I have put up unofficial Mondial survival guides, but while beers change, little else does. That is, planning ahead, going early, and drinking responsibly remain ideal goals, though for such tips you can click that link and explore past suggestions in greater detail. Thus, in the interests of avoiding repetition, I'll offer a few further taboo tips on the things everyone thinks but nobody says.

First, bring hipster repellant. They will be out in force and, accordingly, you must navigate the crowds without getting sucked into a conversation about obscure bands - try to discuss obscure beers instead.

Second, COVER YOUR DRINKS whenever you can. I don't think this is much of an event for drink-drugging douchebags (fortunately) but beards will abound and stray hairs spoil a great foamy head like nothing else.

Third, wear deodorant. It gets warm and you don't want to be the guy who sat beside me last year; or worse, you don't want to sit beside that guy.

Fourth, either join the drunken masses in excessive intoxication or be prepared for the incessant cheering every few minutes for five days.

Finally, don't come looking to meet a date - unless you're into dudes - this is a beer event after all! As with the rest of these tips, I kid, of course: unlike early morning, multi-hour lineup bottle releases, this event boasts much gender parity and brings in beer geeks, party animals, festival goers, professional judges, and more broadening all of our horizons beyond the usual "Beerd" scene we have all grown accustomed to.  Yes, faithful readers, I can only presume that you too are a committed beard cultivating beer geek (else what entices you to reading Malty Tasker?)!

In all seriousness, though, I cannot stress strongly enough to go with a plan.  Whether you wish to go early and seek whatever you wish to try before some options run out, or whether you wish to go late and party, there are WAY too many options to just buy whatever strikes you or whichever has a short lineup. Such strategies usually fail.  If you like crapshoots, be my guest taking your chances, but I strongly advise checking out beer ratings (ba or rb) and seeking out styles you enjoy or ones you have never tried.

As for what you probably came here for, advice... since you know I have carefully scrutinized the list while rubbing my fingers through my beard and checking reviews of the unknown, I offer the following:

Breweries:

From our neighbours to the South, come treats from Revival, Sierra Nevada, and Wormtown, alongside usual staples from Ommegang, Dogfish Head, and New Belgium.

From Quebec, Dieu du Ciel, Dunham, and Hopfenstark top the want list with excellent brews on offer and surprises likely.

From further afield in Canada, check out Central City, Amsterdam, and Muskoka.

And for the worldly-inclined (and who wouldn't be when beers are available here that are never otherwise found in Quebec), may I point out Germany's Bierkultur, and The Monarchy, Brazil's Colorado, Bodebrown, and Amazon, and Italy's Baladin as the brightest shining stars on this year's list.

The Czech Republic's Lucky Bastard also makes a first time showing and, while their ratings aren't superb, Czech styles are often under-appreciated by rating geeks and if these styles intrigue your palate, you should definitely try them while you can.

Beers:

Really, I think you have to seek out what excites you by perusing the list, but I will share a few that excite me for those who value my take.

Sierra Nevada's Hop Hunter IPA and Narwhal RIS both rate very well and despite broad distro have not, as yet, hit my palate.

Germany's Bierkultur brings traditional, fruited, German Berliner Weisses for those with a sour-craving palate (the Abraxxxas beers), while The Monarchy offers numerous strong soured and alt delights.

Brazilian brewery Colorado has previously brought their delightful Guanabara Imperial Stout to Mondial, and this year brings a wood-aged variant that typically provokes high praise.

Amazon, another Brazilian brewery, brings Forest Bacuri, a lightly sour and low-alcohol fruit beer I had a few years back at Mondial (and loved at the time) alongside an Acai Stout that also sounds intriguing at the least.

Italy's Baladin brings the barrel aged variant of their Xyauyu barleywine. Last year's Xyauyu Gold was fantastic and mapley if a bit sweet.  If that's your thing, sip this strong ale variant.

Finally, from closer to home may I make a few final recommendations? We may think, "ah Dunham, DDC, these things I can always get," but NO, YOU CAN'T!  Treats from DDC, like Au fil des seizons, Saison St. Louis, and Matière Noir (Yes, the delightful Russian Imperial Stout Matière Noire!!!) are not always available. Nor are Dunham's delectable treats, such as... well, shit, such as their whole freaking list.  Pick a style you like, a style you don't, something you have never tasted, and Dunham cannot disappoint.

Off Mondial:

As always, numerous Off-Mondial Events abound, but I will point out only those of most likely interest to my audience:

La Succursale hosts a smoked beer night on Tuesday, June 9 - before the official festival begins.

On opening night, Wednesday, June 10th, as always, Dieu du Ciel hosts THE party, bringing in their past brewers to help create brand new concoctions that promise to be delicious!

Brouhaha's Anniversary Party comes on Thursday, June 11th, while le Saint Bock (and Beau's) offer a Randall night on the Friday.

However, also on the Friday is Station Ho.St's sour beer night which was a big hit last year and should be again.

In Closing...

Finally, note your day. Wednesday and Thursday (especially during the day) will boast a greater number of beards, but a smaller number of rowdy drunks, but if it's the party atmosphere you dig, there is nothing better than a Saturday evening at Mondial.

See you there!  Santé!

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