August 15, 2008

Blaspheming Quebec Beer

Like most former-lumberjack Canadians, I like beer. Quite a bit. So when contemplating the move to Montreal I was excited to discover Quebec's reputation for good beer at cheap prices.

I started drinking later in life than most, but I've slowly accumulated a sense of what I like (top of the list: Newcastle Brown Ale, then Stella Artois, and Moretti -and Napoleon's favourite beer, Bass, but only on tap -not from a bottle). I've got a long way to go on the road to becoming a beer connoisseur. In Montreal I hoped to greatly expand the list of what I enjoyed. Unfortunately...

I have been thoroughly disillusioned.

Quebec beer is terrible. Horrendous. I know I'm blaspheming, but somebody's got to say it.

In my focused internet-browsing one day I discovered a beer blog that claimed the best beer selection in Canada was at a grocery store called Metro Joanette in Montreal. I checked the address, and -surprise, surprise- found that it was located in a neighbourhood just south of us here in Point. St. Charles. So Joel and I walked over, and I was delighted to find that you could buy bottles individually. I loaded up on twenty different brands (some of which I had heard rave reviews about, and some which just looked cool -but all of which were brewed locally).

Then every night for a week I tried a new beer or three.

They were terrible. From that pile of twenty bottles only one brand was even half decent (La Scottish -credit where it's due). The rest were all similairly gag-inducing. Well, in fairness, there was a malt beer called Raftman that I didn't enjoy at all but I did respect, and so I've made a mental note to come back to it at a later point.

When first arriving in Montreal I tried the big local brands available at most local Depaneurs like St. Ambroise, Cheval Blanc, and McAuslan, and found them all desperately wanting; so with this dissapointment from Quebecois microbrewers my disillusionment was complete.

The problem with Quebec beer, nine times out of ten, is that it's way too sweet. I mean, Newcastle has a sweetness, I'm fine with that; But with most Quebec beer it's like someone added fruit punch for the final third of the bottle. It has come as no surprise to me to hear that Quebec is most famous for its "peche" beer. Yeah, peach beer. Good grief.

Quebec beer sucks.


Leif Pederson said...

I tried a peach beer at the pub down in Kensington (the one inside a house) and I thought it was okay. I think you've just found the greatest early on, and now nothing will compare. I remember the first time I tried a Kilkenny (the canned cream-headed stuff) at a bar with you, Joel, and Dave. I loved it. Now that I've been a die-hard Stella drinker for a few years, I tried Kilkenny again the other day and nearly spat it out.

The only thing I've come back to and still respect are the Brewsters microbrews. (Alas they are only in Alberta and Saskatchewan, so it doesn't help you.) You've been doomed by finding perfection early.

I'm going to have a Newcastle next time I drink - in your honor.

Matthew A. Wilkinson said...

The house/pub in Kensington! I love that place.

I hope you're wrong about this 'finding perfection early' thing, but I fear you are right.

I REALLY want to find more good beer. The thing that sucks about the awfulness of Quebec beer (besides the fact that it is awful) is that when I go to new bars they usually have a large number of beers -but they're all from Quebec. And so I still haven't been able to try a lot of the beers I'm most interested in.

I figured moving here would give me access to a bunch of different European and American beers, but it's about the same as it was in Calgary.

I tried a Trappist beer -which the beer blogs proclaim to be among the best beers on earth- half a year ago, and hated it as much as anything from Quebec. So maybe what I like in beer is not what other people like.

Hell is other people. Thanks Sartre.