Bonjour from la belle province! Okay, so this is not being written in Quebec, but this works a lot better if we can all pretend I’m still in Montreal, boozing it up at Mondial. Having arrived a day early to make sure I could be at Mondial as soon as it opened, Tuesday night was spent exploring the city. Brewpubs are an integral part of any Montreal visit (at least for me), so I hiked it all the way across downtown to visit Le Saint Bock for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised to see almost twenty taps and lots of beers from around the province. It was hot out and I was sweaty, so the Broadway Pub 3 Hops sounded like a nice to refresh myself.
The 3 Hops was clear with a burnt orange colour and practically no head. The nose was very floral with an underlying aroma of pine – definitely a good start! The hops imparted a distinct floral flavour, as well as freshly cut grass (which, in case you are wondering, is a good thing). There is some citrus, but it is a minor player. Sadly, the ending comes off as astringent, rather than pleasantly bitter. And there was virtually no carbonation, which was confusing as this was not a cask beer. It was still medium bodied, so it all depends on whether or not you like “flat” beer. The 3 Hops definitely hit the spot for me and was a good sign of beers to come.
Le Saint Bock is quite a nice place to get a drink. The small patio was crowded, but luckily there was plenty of seating inside. The inside is arranged into different areas, with two different levels and seating (standard dining tables or lounge chairs/tables). The service was fast and friendly. Large serving sizes best describes the decent pub food. A definite stop for the beer geek traveling through Montreal.
Most of my time after dinner was spent wandering around the city, taking things in and popping in depanneurs (aka. convenience stores with booze). I also went into a couple of SAQ stores (the Quebec equivalent to the LCBO) and found some bottles of Yukon Midnight Sun Espresso Stout with an ancient best-before date (and covered with enough dust to prove it). Seems liquor stores in other provinces operate just as effectively as the LCBO. As for the depanneurs, it took many visits before I could find something I wanted to drink, which got me wondering if the corner-store system is really any better than having all beer sold through the LCBO. All I could find downtown were stores that sold Coors Light, any number of Molson products (including many I had forgotten about) and maybe some other international pale lagers. There were some Unibroue products, but I really didn’t feel like 750mL of strong beer after 10pm – not when the Mondial doors opened at 11am the next morning.
Obviously there are a lot of stores in Montreal that cater to craft beer, but none were anywhere close to me. My beer options were either making a trip to another part of the city or get crap from the any of the stores within a one block radius of the hotel. Now, it should be obvious that I wasn’t going to drink some Molson Ice, but would the average drinker care enough to find good beer? Or would they just accept whatever crap was the easiest to buy? If I were to go into my local LCBO I could at least find some Mill Street, Muskoka, Steamwhistle, Creemore and a decent import or two. Local craft beer seems a lot easier to find in Toronto, which I think is better than having Coors Light at every intersection. I am not saying the current system in Ontario is necessarily better (I do spend a decent amount of time traveling to get beer that is only at Summerhill or other large LCBOs), but that at least there is a better option closer to home and it is easier for people to get into craft beer if they don’t have to run around looking for it. Quebec is usually made out to be a magical beer land, but there are problems with that image.
Somehow I eventually tracked down a bottle of Dieu du Ciel Dernière Volonté and headed back to the hotel, ready to celebrate my victory over the depanneurs. The pour was definitive of a quality Belgian ale: pale golden, but with a white, pillowy head. The flavours mixed sweet (honey and green apple) with lots of spices (clove and pepper) and yeast. Pine is evident as it warms. There is some strong heat in the finish from the alcohol. Very dry. The head does not diminish as I slowly finish the bottle. Another style mastered by Dieu du Ciel.
Broadway Pub Triple Hops on Ratebeer (The chalkboard listed the 3 Hops as an IPA, yet this RB listing says Belgian Ale. I definitely didn’t get any Belgian qualities and list it as an IPA).
Today: 890mL. Year-to-date: 110.64L.