Sunday, 5 June 2016

Making for a Marvelous Mondial: Tips and Tricks to Tasters' Delights

This year's 23rd Annual Mondial de la Bière, beginning this Wednesday (June 8) coincides with both Grand Prix weekend and other smaller events, like the Fringe Festival, which together guarantees that absolute insanity and chaos will reign supreme in Montreal this weekend. Yet, the party vibe threatens to be immense!

Thus, my first tip is to arrive early, to plan ahead, to avoid (likely price-jacked) Uber fares, and to ensure that you accept slower ways home that DO NOT involve drinking and driving! I always enjoy a delightful, early Summer sobering walk home from Mondial, and I hope you also travel responsibly to and from the event.

The event itself (hosted at Palais des Congrès) is free, though you must buy tasting tickets at $1 each with samples costing between 2 and 8 tickets per. Remember to either bring a tasting glass, or be prepared to buy one, and rinse it often!

As always, though, while there, the question of what to do and drink become paramount. Here are some highlights and suggestions beginning, of course, with the beers!

Beers to Wrap Your Lips Around:

On the Overseas front, there are many returning delights, but also first-appearance treats that should not be missed. For 2016, Spain joins Brazil and Italy in the realm of countries with broad representation at this festival. It strikes me as odd that Germany and Belgium are less present than these smaller craft-beer countries, but some strong offerings from these countries share stylistic traits with many of the popular beers originating in these locations.

Amongst the Spanish contingent, Dougall's and La Quince probably rate the highest, though several of the best beers on offer (from them and from other Spanish craft breweries) are of the well-hopped APA/IPA/DIPA varieties. Though more the fault of the import system and both Canadian and Quebec laws, and the SAQ, than Mondial, these beers are unlikely to be optimally fresh. When trying such styles at Mondial, I'd ask to see the bottle or can for dates, and if some later brews have slipped through, these could impress.

Amongst those Spanish beers that may hold up better are Laugar's Aupa Tovarisch imperial stout and La Quince's American Barlywine, Sweet Dreams.

Italy's Birra del Borgo may have been purchased by AB-InBev, but they still bring a strong spread. However, I am most excited for the massive 14 beer lineup from Norway's highly praised Nøgne-Ø.  There are many styles from which to choose and I can personally attest that half of the beers being presented by them are great indeed, while attesting that the other half all rate strongly and you really can't err in buying a treat from these folks.

The Americas List reserves its best for Captain Lawrence, Weyerbacher, and Two Roads  for American options, while Brazilian breweries Bodebrown and 3Cariocas also bring their A-game, though age warnings for hop-forward products remain in effect!

Famed Beer Hunter, Michael Jackson, used to say that the best beer is always the freshest one, however, and I am accordingly most excited for the local Quebec offerings.  Not only is Dieu du Ciel! hauling delights such as Isseki Nicho Pinot Noir BA, but Les Trois Mousquetaires bring their IPA and DIPA (and BA Baltic Porter, and regular Gose and Berliner Weisse) to fulfill hophead needs for fresher IPAs amidst imported heavies.

Likewise, Brasserie Dunham's selection runs the gamut of styles, barrel-aged, well-hopped, and bretted marvels, and Brasserie Benelux represents themselves with a likewise impressive array of many of their staples and special releases.

Finally, like many others in the Quebec beer scene, I am looking forward to Vox Populi's exciting new Double Fruit Punch IPA.

On Thursday, Benelux once again hosts a cask event, for which one must register in advance on the Mondial page. As always, these are guaranteed to be the freshest beers on hand.

As you can see, there is really only one thing to fret in all of this: the hangover.

Special On-Site Events:

Gastronomy:

For the first time, Mondial will host a gastronomy area where invited chefs will assemble food and beer pairings to tantalize the palate. This event runs for the first two days (Wednesday, June 8 and Thursday, June 9 only) from 16:00-21:00.

Moreover, guided beer tours and beer/cheese pairing events about. Both sound great and offer vast learning opportuinities, and are free to join while samples must be purchased in tickets.

Meet the Brewers:

Brewers and owners will partake in meet-and-greets on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday. This is a great opportunity to pick their brains about their beers, processes, and get brewing tips for those homebrewers out there!

Off-Mondial:

Every year, I promise to get to more of the wonderful off-site events, but never seem to make it, what with the commitment that is this festival! Not only are there countless restaurants participating in offering pairings and beer-cooked meals, but several notable events occur throughout the city this week.  Highlights amongst these, for me, are:

On Wednesday, June 8, Dieu du Ciel! hosts A "Funky Off-Mondial Evening" that promises not only DDC's best sours, but Cantillon bottles as well!

Thursday, June 9 sees both a Le Trou du Diable tap takeover at Vices et Versa and the VIII Anniversary party at Broue Pub Brouhaha.

Friday brings the Third Annual Sour Beer Evening at Station Ho.St, and the launch of Le Saint Bock's Mikkeller vs. Evil Twin week-long event.

Something, probably involving casks will also likely happen at Benelux rue Sherbrooke, as they have a TBA event.

For more information on these events, click the "Special Events" link on the Mondial web page.


As always folks, recognize that there will be some rowdy revellers, but remember to drink responsibly, travel safely, and (as the folks at The Alchemist always like to remind us) don't be a douchebag!

Have fun!

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