Around the World in a Glass: T.J.’s Pre-Guide to Mondial de la bière 2014
Let’s get the important stuff out of the way:
When? June 11-15
Tasting coupons: $1.00 each, Cost of one tasting: 2 to 6 coupons (for most beers), Quantity served: 3 to 4 ounces
Palais des congrès of Montreal (inside and outside), 201 Viger Street West, (Place-d’Armes métro station)
Yes, skip to the bottom!
Gettin’ some strange…
Contrary to what its name suggests, Mondial has been known to promote an overwhelming array of local beers. In the past, the imports tended to be segregated into sections off the main floor. There are clear signs that this trend is phasing out due to this year’s new Pavilions for Brazil and Italy right in the center of things. Beerism has written a lot about the local Quebec craft beer explosion, and rest assured that local microbreweries are very well-represented at the fest. This year however, let’s focus on the rest.
Between both pavilions, a total of 93 beers will be available, 55 of which will be new to the festival this year. The Americans have also increased their offerings with a total of 44 beers, 28 of which will be new to the festival this year. Unfortunately, the rest of Canada is still under-represented with a sad total of 12 beers. Get your Red Racer early, they run out quick!
In its 21st edition, the excitement for beer has spilled out from the main venue into the rest of the city. There is hop fever this year with 11 events happening in brew pubs, bars and restaurants between June 11th and June 15th. If the crowds get to be too much for you, or if you would rather just sit and enjoy some great local beers, check out Off-Mondial here.
The list of beers at the new pavilions this year can be intimidating. Even well-known rating websites like Beer Advocate and Rate Beer won’t be able to help much this time. A bit of research shows that they only have a handful of reviews for the offerings from Brazil and Italy. If you are a casual beer drinker, I suggest keeping in mind what styles of beer you like and then try something new within that style. Thousands of beers are made up from the basic four ingredients: water, yeast, a starch source such as barley, and a flavoring, usually hops. Line up any 3 or 4 craft beers of the same style from the same region and chances are that even the most newly initiated beer drinker will detect differences in taste for each. The fun of a festival such as this one is that the casual beer drinker can line up 5 or 10 craft beers of the same style from all over the world. Many styles of beer – for example, Pale Ales, IPAs, or Stouts – are made in every one of the brewing regions, yet the taste from brewery to brewery (and from region to region) will be wildly different.
Go horizontal. Drinking different versions of the same beer style from various breweries is an excellent way to get started in the world of beergeekery. This is what’s called a “horizontal” tasting. The gateway beer that grabs ahold of the casual beer drinker and introduces them into a new and exciting world of flavor is the first step. The all-important second step is to find the next great thing. This is where many people get confused.
It doesn’t have to be difficult. You loved that India Pale Ale that your friend introduced you to? Get out there and try another one! Now you have something to go by. Around the world in 80 India Pale Ales! From here, you can start branching out. Found a beer that blew your mind? Maybe it’s not a fluke! Try another beer from the same brewery. If trying something new scares you, follow the color scale. Beers come in a limited scale of colors: Pale yellow, wheat or white, red, brown, and black. If you know that you like IPAs, and you know that the last IPA you had was a nice straw-colored yellow, stay within that color scale before moving on to something more bold.
Travel outside of your comfort zone
The pavilions for Italy and Brazil should be the highlight of your visit. It cannot be stressed enough how difficult it is to get imported beer into Quebec. The SAQ holds a monopoly on alcohol sales here, and their attention is on wine, not beer. The chances of seeing many of these beers again are slim to none. Even Ontario’s LCBOs, which have long been the refuge for the active beer enthusiast, do not carry some of the rare finds on offer at the festival. Various private importation groups made mostly of beer geeks and bar owners exist that offer a supply chain from Europe and sometimes the United States. But, to the casual drinker, these pavilions will make accessible what otherwise would be very difficult to get your hands on. Get out there and try something new! This is what a festival should be about!
Some of these breweries, especially the Brazilians and Italians, were difficult to find reviews of. Others on this list are sometimes available at the LCBO in Ontario. Those selected below are those that have been highly rated and would be a good place to start. If you are seeking something new, definitely try those not mentioned here and be the first to write a review! The recommendations below are segregated by table. If you look at the map, the layout of this year’s festival has all beers from outside of Quebec located in four separate areas: Petit Pub de Palais (Map# 730), the Brazilian Pavilion (Map # 204), the Italian Pavilion (Map# 206), and L’Esplanade outside (Map # 142).
Petit Pub du Palais (map#730) – Western Europe and New Zealand
- SCHNEIDER WEISSE – Aventinus Eisbock, Aventinus Barrique
- BRASSERIE OUD BEERSEL – Oud Beersel Lambik
- HORNBEER – Happy Hoppy Viking, Black Magic Woman
- ST. AUSTELL BREWERY – Proper Job
- THORNBRIDGE BREWERY – Jaipur IPA, Kill Your Darlings, St Petersburg Imperial Stout
- NOGNE Ø – # 100, Imperial Brown Ale, Imperial Stout
- RENAISSANCE BREWING CO – Elemental
- 8 WIRED BREWING – Grand Cru, Bumaye, C4 Double Coffee Brown Ale
Brazilian Pavilion (map# 204):
- BODEBROWN – Bodebrown / Stone Cacau IPA, Bodebrown Wee Heavy
- CERVEJA PROVINCIA – Colorado Ithaca / Guanabara
- CERVEJARIA INVICTA – 1000 IBU, Imperial India Pale Ale
Italian Pavilion (map# 206)
- BIRRA DEL BORGO – L’Equilibrista (BRUT), My Antonia
- BIRRIFICIO BALADIN – Super, Wayan, Xyauyù Etichetta Oro (Gold)
- CROCE DI MALTO – Triplexxx, Temporis, Amiata Helles Diablo
Outside area is called L’esplanade.
Canada outside of Quebec (map# 142)
- CENTRAL CITY BREWERS – Red Racer IPA, Red Racer Imperial Porter, Red Racer Imperial IPA
- FLYING MONKEYS – Flying Monkeys Smashbomb Atomic IPA
- MUSKOKA BREWERY – Mad Tom IPA
- SPEARHEAD BREWING CO – Hawaiian Style Pale Ale
United States (map# 142)
- ALLAGASH BREWING CO – White, Allagash Curieux, Allagash Four
- BREWERY OMMEGANG – Gnomegang Blonde Ale
- DOGFISH HEAD – 90 Minute IPA, Palo Santo Marron, Noble Rot, Burton Baton
- NEW HOLLAND BREWING CO. – Dragon’s Milk, Mad Hatter
- ROGUE ALES – Rogue Farms 7 Hop Ipa, Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout, XS Old Crustacean
- STONE BREWING CO. – Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale, Stone Imperial Russian Stout, Smoked Porter, Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale