Montreal is a magical city, as most people know. There are more restaurants per capita in Montreal than New York City. Montrealers are known for their fashion, passion and creativity, and joie de vivre. (They have BYOB picnics at city parks!)
Lesser-known to me was the massive craft brewing movement happening in the 375-year old port city – I had no idea it’s home 33 to craft and microbreweries. And, for a city that can sometimes seem a little snobbish, that label does not extend to their breweries. In fact, it seems Montreal’s friendly brew pubs rather embrace collaboration and the co-operative spirit.
Not only can you find hundreds of unique, locally-brewed beers in Montreal, but you have your choice of drinking destinations, from more authentic pubs to high-end dining establishments. My favourite spot has to be La Brasserie Harricana on Mile-Ex, with its marble countertops, pink leather club chairs, and gold light fixtures, not to mention incredible local food and 22 beer on tap, all their own or collaborations with other breweries. This place has a special woman-vibe too, likely due to owner and CEO Marie-Pier Veilleux, and all-female staff (at least during our visit).
The abundance of choice at these brew pubs is awesome, but it’s these small batches that limit the breweries to only sell beer to be consumed on-site. Which means out-of-towners like us can’t take some of the local flavours home. But, when in Rome, do as the Romans. So, we sampled to our heart’s content.
We tried over 30 beer (mostly shared between Greg and I in galopin/sample-sized glasses) during a 28-hour stretch, covering styles such as Imperial stout, rose hibiscus wheat beer, American IPA, plum-infused Belgian sour, smoked light Gratzer, Hefeweizen, local honey-infused blonde ale, ordinary bitter, lactic saison with honey, saison with Madagascan pepper, dubbel, white beer with cranberries and raspberries, New England IPA, best bitter, Belgian amber (that was fermented with fresh plums and aged in red wine barrels), Cognac sour and dry stout to name a few.
We joined a beer tour which took us around the up-and-coming Rosemont area, giving us a glimpse in to the amazing beer destinations the locals (and tourists) can enjoy. It was a cool area, but I recommend spending two or more hours at one place, sampling their range of standard and seasonal brews, and talking to the staff. They are proudly educated on the beer and brewery they work at, and love answering questions, all without a hint of haughtiness.
I get why Montreal is becoming a popular beer destination, and I see no sign of it slowing down. These are good people, who love what they do, and create diverse, high-quality products. I’m giving this whirlwind weekend two thumbs up, and I hope it’s created some wanderlust for you.
Here are some of the other spots we visited: