I, like so many of us, don’t get out much anymore, but the thought of not using these glorious fall daylight hours to the best advantage of day drinking was heresy. With a balmy weekend ahead, and the dark cold months looming, indulge yourself this weekend in the joys of a solid gold luxury beer garden at the Mondial de la bière being held from Oct 7-10th at the Windsor Train Station (Bonaventure metro, in the center courtyard of the Bell Center). This year’s edition will feature timed entry for 3 hour slot, so no waiting for hours to get in. Buy your tickets online with your phone as you walk over, and if there are spots, you can just waltz right in and avoid past years’ wait, which honestly, made this event a pass for me in previous years.
With over 100 beers and ciders to choose from, there is something for every connoisseur. Whether you are looking for quantity or quality, there is a lot of fun stuff to try out and the festival is also offering four-beer curated ‘flights’ of beers for the undecided to enjoy. According to Christian from Les Trois Mousquetaires Brasseurs located in Brossard, this year it is clear that the world was looking for sweetness, and the public was on the look out for desert stouts, which is reflective of what is on offer at the Mondiale. This edition will have the hop heads searching for menu items, as this year the trend is more on fruity sours, saison and sweeter offerings.
Speaking of, Trois Mousquetaires is releasing their Choco Coco, a deep, dark chocolate coconut stout with a very light aftertaste to the party, which I recommend that you get your hands on if you can. I am a huge fan of chocolate stouts, and this one stands out as their use of cocoa actually cuts the sweetness down a notch and their use of lactofermentation gives the beer pleasant body.
The Mondiale wouldn’t be called that unless there was a worldwide aspect, so I also tried out a Norvegian Cherry beer, Safe Haven, which I would definitely recommend. Not as sour as a gose, but just enough flavor to let you know what it is, but with some salty notes, which surprises the palate. Another standout was Saint-Bock’s 15th Anniversary beer, another desert stout with maple syrup, honey and cherry brewed in oak.
However, they can’t all be winners. I tried out Microbrasserie La Souche’s Sombre Dessert – Édition S’mores, and the lack of body, oversweetness and the ever lingering aftertaste was not a great experience. I’d stay away from that one, it feels like they just poured all the sugar in the universe into it and did not properly process it.
I had a chat with Jeff Picard, the managing partner at Brutopia, who were of course presenting their iconic Raspberry brew. He, like so many small business owners downtown, took advantage of the shut down to do renovations, but the process of shutting down the tanks and crossing his fingers that the brew survived was a fraught one. He expressed support for the passport system, as it is what’s keeping him open, but also expressed disappointment with the capacity rules. On a good news note, live music is in fact back at Brutopia, a revamped menu is coming, and despite the challenges, the Crescent street mainstay is still going strong.
After all these desserty stouts, I had to finish off with at least one sour. Microbrasserie Riverbend’s Seaweed Gose came with a warning of salty, but honestly, it was really light and pleasant and a nice palate cleanser after all the sweeter beers I had had over the course of this heavily alcoholic two hours. When I say heavily alcoholic, I mean it, as while there is a huge variety of non-alcoholic options on offer this year, a majority of the beers or 9-11% per volume. My recommendation is to take public transpo to the event. The beer garden atmosphere is pleasant and a lovely antidote to the busyness of Ste-Catherine st., so do your shopping, then waltz on down to relax in the sun as we soak in the last of it before we retreat to our respective housecaves for the winter.
Mondial de la Biere takes place from October 7 – 10 at Gare Windsor. For info, click HERE.