In Quebec, we may not see eye to eye on everything when it comes to culture and language, but if there is one thing we can all agree on, it is the fact that drinking beer on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day is somewhat of a civic duty.
This year, I encourage you to take advantage of your holiday to expand your palate and sample some of my favorite locally brewed beers.
Éphémère poire, Unibroue
This refreshing brew is the perfect pick for a sunny summer day, so make sure to buy some if you are invited to a pool party or a picnic in the park. Its golden colour is pleasing to the eye and its taste is similar to other Belgian white-ales in the Unibroue family (think Blanche de Chambly) with notes of citrus and a pear aftertaste. Like the name suggests, it will only be available for a limited time, so make sure you try it before it’s too late!
Shawinigan Handshake, Trou du Diable
Named after the famous chokehold executed by Jean Chrétien on protester Bill Clennett in 1996, this amazing beer brewed in Shawinigan owes its great taste to German yeast and Chinook hops. It is considered medium-light bodied and is said to please fans of wheat beers (also known as white beers) and American IPAs alike. Its slightly bitter taste is balanced by refreshing fruity and floral notes and it will be best enjoyed around the traditional camp fire.
Yakima, Le Castor
Don’t let the name fool you, this beer is not brewed in the Yakima Valley in Washington USA, but it is a tribute to hops and malts grown in the Pacific Northwest. Made in Rigaud, Quebec, this certified organic IPA has aromas of tropical fruits and citrus flavors to complement the strong malt and hops taste. It is best enjoyed at a BBQ, especially if you are grilling spicy merguez sausages.
Dominus Vobiscum Triple, MicroBrasserie Charlevoix
Brewed in Baie-Saint-Paul in beautiful Charlevoix, this tripel-style beer is not for the faint of heart. Its most loved feature is its soft and bubbly carbonation that many liken to champagne, but I am mostly fond of its strong yeasty taste with sweet notes of apricot, honey and spices. This beer will also be a crowd pleaser if you bring it to a dinner-time picnic that involves lots of cheeses and assorted cold meats.
St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout – McAuslan Brewing
I saved this beer for last and you should too. Locally brewed right here in Montreal, we should all be proud of this pitch-black beverage that has beaten out more popular international stouts in blind-tastings and competitions around the world. Its strong taste of espresso coffee paired with notes of dark chocolate make it an ideal choice for dessert. To this day, I still can’t order this beer without dipping my finger in its frothy mocha-colored head like a kid would do with icing on a cake.
Special thank you to La Pourvoirie (176 Jean-Talon Street East, Montreal, Quebec) for their help with this article. Note that you can get all five of the beers recommended in this article at their store.