Like I mentioned yesterday, I was away in Montreal for seven days for the 17th annual Mondial de la Biere with TAPS Beer Magazine, and I had an amazing time filled with many terrific beers.
My TAPS colleague, Kristina Santone (Assistant Editor) and I packed the new TAPS trailer and headed east down the 401 to Montreal last Tuesday. Neither of us had ever attended Mondial before and it had been a while for both of us since our last visit to La Belle Province. Needless to say we were both looking forward to this trip.
We arrived in Montreal shortly after 2:30pm and checked into our hotel (Hotel le Dauphin - great experience) before heading over to Windsor Station to start setting up the TAPS booth. We had t-shirts, books, TAPS glassware, back issues of the magazine and subscription cards that would be available for purchase over the course of the five day festival.
Les Trois Mousquetaires newest beer, Imperial Weizen. It turned out that we were the first people outside the brewery to try it and I throughly enjoyed it.
With no official plan we decided that we'd take a walk north to Benelux - Brassiere Artisanal Cafe for a bite to eat and to sample their beers. I opted for a sample tray of five beers: Semuta (Saison Ambree), Congo (Belgian IPA), Magnum (Pilsner), Anniversaire 2010 (IIPA), Ergot (Triple Saison Seigle). I found all five to be very well made with the Congo shining the brightest.
Benelux has a great outdoor sidewalk patio that screams European flair and on the night of our visit it was packed with young and old drinkers. The inside of Benelux is unique. Wide open with island bar seating scattered throughout the establishment it felt a little industrial; however, the rustic wooden tables and chairs and the natural light from the floor to ceiling windows helped soften the appearance.
We left Benelux and headed back towards the hotel hoping to find a depanneur along the way. After going through the selection at two locations, we left empty handed. Molson Dry - no thanks. An IGA grocery store suddenly appeared and ten minutes later we left with two cases of Dieu du Ciel (Corne Diable and a mixer pack). It was then back to hotel for some much needed rest.
Highlight beers: Benelux Congo, Anniversaire 2010 and Magnum Pilsner, LTM Imperial Weizen
Up at the crack of dawn to get organized before the doors to the Windsor Station were opened to the public. Once the clock hit 11am people started pouring into the festival. A sign that shows just how popular the Mondial is. The TAPS booth was busy right from the start as subscriptions and glassware were purchased at a healthy pace.
A number of Toronto drinkers who had made the trip stopped by the booth to say hi, as did a number of subscribers from both Quebec and Ontario. It was really nice to meet the people out there who are reading the magazine and hearing positive things about the publication offered a good start to the gruelling days ahead.
One of the perks about being an exhibitor at Mondial is the white bracelet you get upon entering. Not only does it let you skip the absurdly long line-ups to enter, but it also allows you to enter the exhibitor area to put your feet up and to have a free beer. And when I say free beer, I mean beer from all other exhibitors at the festival. We were able to try numerous Italian beers, Quebec beers, and a number of US beers.
By 5pm Windsor Station was brimming with people, both inside and outside. Drinkers both young and old. Novices and seasoned veterans. The Dieu du Ciel booth was kitty corner to ours and it was by far and away the busiest of the festival. We managed to break away a couple of times to head over to try their new stuff and it was nice to see the regular Dieu du Ciel folks behind the bar chatting with their fans.
It was getting close to 10pm, closing time, when we completely sold out of glassware. Many collectors had stopped by to obtain some for their collection and/or to trade with other collectors. They were by far and away some or the most popular glasses at the festival. We closed up shop and headed back to Dieu du Ciel for their American beer night. Unfortunately the place was jammed and there was no prospect of us receiving a drink or a sandwich within 30 mins so we had to find another place to eat.
Highlight beers: DDC Roggenbier, DDC Pionnerre, LTM Doppelbock, Hopfenstark Post Colonial IPA, and ReAle from Birra del Borgo.
We had a volunteer for the start of day three - Jordan St. John of Toronto, who helped us give-away our new TAPS bottle openers. (Jordan just started a new blog - www.saintsgambit.wordpress.com and he has written about Mondial). I started the day off with a beer and then another and then another. Thursday was my day to imbibe and imbibe did I.
Charlevoix's Dominus Vobiscum Brut where Frederick Trembly, Charlevoix's founder, happily told me about this wonderful beer. Stephen Beaumont did a great job of explaining it over on his site go I'll direct you there to read all about it. He poured the champagne style beer into its beautiful glass and I happily sipped on it for the first hour of the festival.
After the Brut it was onto some of the beers in the exhibitor's fridge. Maui Coconut Porter, New Belgium Trippel, Kuhnhenn Winter Wonder Lager, Hopfenstark Tripel on cask and Brasseurs de Montreal Ghosttown Stout. The Ghostown Stout, brewed with absinthe, had a lot going on in the nose and a bunch of different flavours on the palate.
Some members of Bar Towel from Ottawa and Toronto came by the booth to introduce themselves and I finally got to meet Mike from the A Year Of Beer Blog. A number of other beer bloggers from Quebec also stopped by to say hi and some great new contacts were made. For those of you who can speak or understand French, check out the Bieres du Quebec website.
The long day came to an end and it was off to Brutopia for dinner. Good food, but the beers we had weren't very fresh. The IPA had a cardboard nose and oxidized taste which disappointed us; some of their beers we sampled at the festival were nice though.
Highlight beers: Charlevoix Brut, New Belgium Trippel, Ghosttown Stout, Maui Coconut Porter, Hopfenstark Saison 55, Matt's Sleepy Time Stout from Beau's.
Up Next - Days 4, 5, 6, 7 - Large crowds, lost voice, smoked meat.