The Mondial de la Biere Festival is back!
4,000 attended the Terraces d'Automne in Montreal Oct. 7-10
(Scroll down for more exciting beer events to come)
From left, 27th Edition tasting glass; lineup outside Gare Windsor; Rio Tinto courtyard; brews; masked volunteers; craft beer OGs Jeff Picard (Brutopia) with Jean Francois Gravel (Dieu du Ciel), and Jerome Denys (Le Cheval Blanc).
By Tony Forder
Having been forced to postpone last year's festival because of the Pandemic, it wasn't apparent that the 27th edition of the Mondial de la Biere could even be held in 2021. Throughout the summer Covid gathering rules kept changing in Montreal depending on pandemic variant spikes and it wasn't until early September that the rules were relaxed enough to allow a slimmed down version of the festival. The plan for an outdoor only, limited social distanced seated plan was approved and Jeannine Marois and her team leapt into action.
With the date set for October 7-10, breweries were contacted, beers ordered, volunteers recruited. The festival was able to return to its venerable home Le Gare Windsor (Montreal's elegant former train station), but not inside La Salle de Pas Perdus. Outside the newly renovated Cour Rio Tinto offered enough space for 125 tables and 500 seats. Various ticket packages Les Terraces d"Automne could be booked online for a 3-hour session; there were 10 sessions over the 4 days of the festival.
"This special edition was a challenge to organize but we are very happy we did it!" said Mondial de la Biere President Jeannine Marois. "The brewers were ready for this event and the visitors too who really enjoyed the beer, the set-up, the weather and the overall atmosphere. The event was secure and charming!
Although pre-event ticket sales began slowly, favorable weather brought the fans out and sales were brisk throughout the days of the event. Beers were served by a swarming crew of volunteers from one large Petit Pub tent. The idea was for people to bring the beers back to their table to enjoy. At first customers were encouraged to order multiple samples stacked on 4-cup trays, but this led to long lines at the session outset so adjustments were made to keep the lines moving.
Although brewers were not able to pour their own beers, some brewery reps and other beer experts (including your truly) circulated on site to provide info.
The sun shined...and so did the beers. Mondial Project Chief Marilou Caty built an impressive list from Quebec's burgeoning craft brewing scene. "We wanted variety. A lot of brewers wanted to send their IPAs, but I had to tell them, this is not an IPA fest!"
Sours, saisons, barrel-aged, were all there along with the more regular styles of ales and lagers, and yes enough IPAs – session, double, West Coast, New England, even an IPA fumee (smoked). Low alcohol beers and no alcohol brews were also represented. Known for its procurement of global beers, the pandemic meant that the only imports available this year were Norwegian, stored in the Mondial's warehouse.
1. It's not too difficult for Americans to visit Canada if the protocol is followed. Yes, you have to test Covid negative within 72 hours of arriving (PCR or equivalent - NAAT is OK). You have to download the ArrivCAN App, and although it requires a lot of info including uploading your double Vax proof, it makes arrival quite streamlined (at least by air which was how I arrived). Another test within 72 hours is required to return to the US but it can be Antigen (I did Binax self test in my hotel room).
2. Quebecers seemed very conscientious about mask wearing. The majority of people on the street were wearing masks and everyone I saw entering the festival was masked.
3. Although there were some inconveniences at the festival everyone seemed to be understanding of the strictures and genuinely happy to be able to attend an event – especially a beer festival outdoors! On the Saturday night there was a concert across the alley at the Bell Center with Ricky Martin and Henriqué Iglesias. When it let out the Mondial DJ played Henriqué Iglesias songs sparking spontaneous dancing in the street.
4. Make sure you take your Vax card with you when you go out. It is required to enter restaurants and while the locals have a more sophisticated QR code check, the lo-tech US/CDC card is accepted.
5. It's been two years since I visited Montreal and I was amazed at how many new, small breweries have opened in the city and in the province. Covid does not appear to have slowed down appreciation and growth of craft beer entrepreneurs!
My Sweet 16 17 (They're not all high alcohol...lol!)
L'Amere a Boire - Černá - Pilsner Tchèque 5%
Benelux - Magnalux (collab with Bob Magnale) - mixed saison refermented with wild yeast. 5%
Alpha - Bora - Sour IPA DDH Citra Mosiac Azacca Sabro 6.1%
Bazaar - Wow - Triple Dry Hop Cryo Ekuanot <0.5%
Du Moulin - La Hère - DIPA 8%
Generale/Urbain - SIR Vladimir - Russian Imperial Stout, 6 months, aged in smoked Scotch whisky barrels 10.5%
Dieu du Ciel - Si un siffleux sait siffler - NEIPA 7.3%
Le Cheval Blanc - Daisy - Saison (Covid* barrel-aged 18 months) 7.1%
Domaine Berthiaume - Le soufle du dragon - Scotch ale 11.9%
Echo Session Ales - Sour framboise litchi vanille - fruited sour 3.5%
Lagabiere - Ukulélé IPA - Idaho 7 NEIPA DH Idaho 7.6%
Les Trois Mousquetaires - Baltic Porter 2020 - Aged in bourbon and brandy barrels 10.5%
Brasserie 4 Origines - Steep of Faith - Witbier au Thé 5.8%
Overhop - Guava Jelly Catharina Sour 4%
Shawbridge - Rivière-du-Nord Pale Ale Anglaise 5%
La Souche - Émerillon - Triple IPA du Nouveau Monde 9%
Saint Bock - 15th Anniversaire Imperial Stout - maple syrup, honey and black cherries, aged in oak barrels 10%
Next up for Mondial de la Biere
The Mondial is at the center of a new enterprise, Montréal Centre-Ville Brassicole Culturel Gourmand (Downtown Montreal Gourmet Culture and Brewing) – a smorgasbord of beer-related activities scheduled from Oct. 2021 through Aug. 2022. Tastings, cruises, guided tours and visits, shows and much more will be held in different parts of the city, including museums and cinemas, microbreweries, brewpubs and parks. Special hotel discounts are available in conjunction with events. For more info visit https://montrealcentrevillebrassicoleculturelgourmand.com/