Student Life

Bartender Banter: “Hop” into spring with beer

Ale versus lager, and some Montreal hot spots and picks for beer

Craft beer is trendier than ever. If you’re a lover of beer and all its types, flavours and colours, you are definitely in the right province. There are over 100 different microbreweries in Quebec, producing thousands of varieties of beer. In Montreal alone, dozens of locations offer a taste of these great brews.

Before I recommend different beers, breweries and pubs, I feel it’s important to make one basic yet vital distinction between two beer types.

Ale vs. lager

The difference between an ale and a lager comes down to the brewing process and the way the yeast ferments. Ales include pale ales, India pale ales (IPA), stouts, porters and wheat ales. Ale-brewing is typically done in warmer temperatures, which make the yeast ferment faster, and ultimately makes for a richer, more flavourful and complex beer.

Lagers usually have fresher, crisper flavours. While ales are top-fermenting, meaning the yeast brews at the top of the barrel or cask, the yeast in lagers brews at the bottom of the barrel. Lagers brew in colder temperatures, which explains their simpler and lighter flavour. Lager styles include pilsners and amber beers.

Now that that’s all settled, let’s get to the goods.

A taste of great Quebec microbreweries in Montreal

Brasserie Dunham

Dunham’s Saison du Pinnacle (left), Helm’s Bernard Pale Ale (centre) and Pit Caribou’s La Bonne Aventure (right).
Photo by Danielle Gasher

Located in the small town of Dunham, Que., this brewery is award-winning. While a bit more on the expensive side, Dunham beer is the perfect purchase for any cinq à sept or celebration because the ingredients are often more refined. What’s great with beer is that, even if you’re getting the fanciest brew, you never come close to spending as much as you would for the fanciest bottle of wine. Many of their 750 ml bottles sell between $13 and $30.

From this microbrewery, I highly recommend their award-winning Saison du Pinnacle. The beer is light and summery, while keeping a strong bitterness. It has undertones of peach and lemon.

Other great beers from the brewery include the Saison Framboise, their Black Imperial IPA and my personal favourite, their Leo’s Early Breakfast IPA. The latter has a subtle Earl Grey tea taste—a flavour that complements many alcohols.

  • You can buy Dunham beers at a variety of specialty stores and bars, including Marché Station 54, Au Coin Duluth, and the bar Vices et Versa.

Dieu du Ciel

If you’re adventurous, this is your brewery. From a beer brewed with cocoa and vanilla bean, to a delicious espresso stout, to an intense, dark, smoky amber beer, this place does it all. But don’t worry, they’re not all play. They have well-crafted basics, from a blonde to a white beer, and a classic, crisp pale ale.

  • The microbrewery is located in Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood, at 29 Laurier Ave. East.

Pit Caribou

This Gaspésie-based microbrewery opened their Montreal location last summer. This brewery’s beer is simple yet full of flavour. The beer that peaked my interest at this spot is their red beer, La Bonne Aventure. The beer is light but has the caramel and nutty undertones I absolutely love in any darker beer.

Their Montreal location serves a sample beer platter, perfect for first timers who want to taste a bit of everything.

  • Pit Caribou’s Montreal location is at 951 Rachel St. East in the Plateau.

Happy beer belly!

Student Life

Tasting history: A 200-year-old beer recipe brought to life

The Museum of Jewish Montreal hosts a celebration and tasting of the famous Hart family beer

The Museum of Jewish Montreal hosted a lecture and tasting to celebrate the recreation of a 200-year-old traditional beer recipe from the famous Jewish Hart family brewery, on Oct. 26.

Nearly 100 people gathered in the bright main room of the museum, which opened only eight months ago. At 7:30 p.m. sharp, the room, already filled with displays of famous Jewish literature, historic maps and archival photos, was packed with eager and thirsty attendees.

beer blogger and business lawyer, Gary Gillman. Photo by Danielle Gasher

The almost illegible manuscript of the beer recipe was displayed at the front of the room, in front of rows of chairs, for everyone to see and attempt to read.

The Museum organized the event in collaboration with Fletcher’s Espace Culinaire and Le Réservoir microbrewery.  Fletcher’s, a Jewish-Québécois fusion café, offered their space on the main floor of the Museum, for the event to take place.

Julia Dubé, the event and financial development coordinator for the museum, said the team first discovered the beer recipe when one of their research fellows stumbled upon a beer blog talking about it.

“When she found this article, she shared it with the team, and we immediately wanted to do something with it,” said Dubé. “We had the idea to recreate the beer, using local ingredients and trying to follow the recipe from the manuscript. So we approached our neighbour, Le Réservoir.”

Le Réservoir, a microbrewery on Duluth Avenue, just a street corner away from the museum, accepted the challenge to recreate the beer.  

Concordia graduate and master brewer at Le Réservoir, Nathan McNutt, made it his mission to follow the recipe and the methods used as closely as possible. “We are all very excited to taste the beer for the first time,” said Dubé.

The museum is dedicated to sharing Jewish stories in Montreal. Since the Hart family is such an important name in Montreal’s Jewish community, this was a story the museum couldn’t pass up on.

“Part of these stories relate to food, relate to beer. When we found this story, we thought it would be a very contemporary and interesting thing to share,” Dubé told The Concordian.

Photo by Danielle Gasher

The Hart family are known to be the first Jews to have arrived in North America. They settled in Trois-Rivières in 1761. The entire family is celebrated for their contributions and devotion to Quebec’s Jewish community. The family created the first synagogue in Canada and were active in the fight for Jewish political rights during the 18th century, according to an article on Canada’s History’s website by author and historian, Denis Vaugeois.

That’s why, Montreal-native beer blogger and business lawyer, Gary Gillman, was surprised to stumble on the Hart name when researching early Quebec breweries.

“Growing up here in the Jewish community, we all had known of the Harts and were very proud of them … but we knew their political history, particularly Ezekiel’s situation with respect to trying to set a legislative assembly in the early 19th century. I had no idea that they operated a brewery,” said Gillman.

Gillman found the recipe through public provincial records. In fact, it was so easy to access, he continued digging to see if anyone else had published or at least found the manuscript. “As far as I could tell, nobody actually found it and published it, much less analyzed it from a brewing point of view,” said Gillman. He published a blog post about the beer in February 2016.

Photo by Danielle Gasher

To Gillman, the recipe represents traditional English brewing. “That means things like its alcoholic strength, which is over eight per cent, its use of hops … a substantial quantity of hops. They also used the first mash, the first run off the malted barley, which is the richest extract and produces the strongest beer.”

The brewer of the beer, McNutt, said, “For the most part, we kept very true to the style, very true to the ingredients. We made sure that [the beer] was Quebec-grown, that it was organic.” He explained he had to make certain adaptations to stay true to the original recipe, techniques and style of the brew. He said he used smoke malt, with the help of wood chips, to replicate a taste that was common in 18th century beer. He also added wild yeast to the beer, and aged it in an oak wood barrel, which he said added complexity to the beer’s taste.

Among the guest speakers at the event was Vaugeois, who was particularly touched by the recreation of the recipe. Vaugeois, who wrote a book about the Hart family, imparted his knowledge about the Harts to the crowd.

“Since I don’t drink beer, I focused on the brewery, on the will of Aaron Hart to bring his sons together so they could create a dynasty. He created an enterprise for his sons, like Molson,” said Vaugeois about his book.


Vaugeois said that upon researching and writing so much about the family, he felt like he had a special connection to them. “I feel like I am myself a Hart,” he said.

Once the presentation from guest speakers was over, guests were invited, with their free beer coupon in hand, to the next street corner to taste the celebrated beer for themselves at Le Réservoir.

As the speakers hinted, the flavour of the beer was beautifully complex.  From the balanced smokiness, to a nice spiciness and subtle yet satisfying bitterness, this beer’s taste was a nice surprise.  

Student Life

Concordia Co-op will quench your crafty thirst

Let La Cooperative des Brasseurs Illuminés be your ticket to locally crafted beer enlightenment

Love beer? Want to learn how to brew it in a friendly environment? Then La Coopérative des Brasseurs Illuminés is the place to go.

The inspiration for Brasseurs Illuminés came last winter as a project for an internship class taken by founding member Braden Richards. Getting a few of his friends together, the co-op was created in June of this year with the help of The Concordia Sustainability Action Fund.

The co-op’s connection with the Sustainability Action Fund highlights a main concern of the group. According to member John Talbot, Les Brasseurs aims to enter into “the social act of sustainability” by using local, sustainable products. With the support of the fund they were able to begin educating members on how to make homebrewed beer.

This educational focus is evident through the group’s webpage where the different ingredients that go into each of their beers is explained in detail. Co-op members are invited to sessions to learn about and take part in the art of making beer.

Brasseurs Illuminés is currently made up of ten core members. They are constantly looking for more individuals to join them in the learning and tasting process. No prior knowledge is necessary and students from any discipline are welcome. “We’re looking for people from all different disciplines, to bridge the gap across disciplines,” said member Hannah Materne.

Unfortunately, their product is not currently available to the public. As they are a young operation, the next few months will be spent creating business plans and filing for licenses from the government. They hope to begin catering for student events by early 2015.

If that seems too far away, there is still a chance to taste their beer at various events. These will be posted on the co-op’s facebook page.

As for their final goal, the sky is the limit: “[my dream is to] be able to open up a place like Reggie’s where students can come and drink student-made beer instead of grabbing a Pabst,” said member Cody Jacobs.

To become a member, join their mailing list, or just to learn about beer, go to:

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