Friday, 19 September 2014

Walk, Talk and Drink Beer with Local Tours Montreal

I recently visited Montreal with my girlfriend for a wedding (original post here) and we decided to make a weekend trip out of it to explore the city and what it has to offer. Any reader of Real Man Travels will know that we all love beer, so naturally I signed us up for a walking Brew Pub tour which Local Tours Montreal graciously let us participate in for free. The Brew Pub tour was hosted by our guide Phillipe Blouin (Phil) and he was extremely knowledgeable about beer and Quebec history. The tour would see us visiting 3 different establishments in Montreal and stopping off at local historic attractions. After it was all said and done, the tour was much different than I expected, but in a very good way.

Logos for local montreal tours and brew pub tour
Local Montreal Tours Logo and Brew Pub Tour Logo

I think it’d be important to first state the difference between a Brew Pub and a Micro-Brewery. As our guide Phil informed us, a micro-brewery makes and distributes their beer into SAQ, convenience stores, Beer stores etc, whereas a Brew Pub can only make and sell their beer on their premise. That means that all the beers I will describe below can only be found at each location! That is a pretty good enough reason to make sure you visit them if you are a beer lover!

Our first stop of the Brew Pub tour was L’amère à Boire located at 2049 Rue Saint-Denis. This establishment had a great classy rustic look to it and it was here that we met our group of 18 on the private terrace in the back. Our first beer of the day was a German Hefe Weizen; at the mention of this a lady from New York clapped in joy as it was her favourite type. Phil immediately put us to the test and asked us what fruit and spice we tasted in the beer. After all of us guessed wrong it was revealed that there was banana and cloves that created the spicy aroma and fruity taste. Our second beer tasting was a Czech Pilsner, the pride and joy of this establishment as the owner had gone through great lengths to acquire and maintain his yeast. I don’t want to spoil the great story behind the yeast but it involves communism in Europe and doomsday-esque storage, so be sure to listen up during the tour at this point.

L'amere a boire German Hefe Weizen
One of the first beers we tried, obviously I had to be reminded to actually take a photo before drinking it all!
With two tasty beers down the gullet it was time to move on to Brew Pub number two. But first we made a pit stop at the Grande Bibliothèque (Grand Library) where Phil gave us a great rundown of Quebec’s history and why this building is so important to French heritage. After the history lesson we shuttled through an alley way filled with beautiful murals and ended up at our second stop of the day in the Quartier Latin at Le. Saint Bock.

Picture of the group at Le Saint Bock
Just a fraction of the group at Le Saint Bock drinking and eating.
Le Saint Bock, located at 1749 Rue Saint-Denis, was a far more modern bar with a huge selection of beer. In fact the selection is so large that they have a catalogue dubbed the “Beer Bible”. We are talking over 600 beer choices with 44 of those on tap. We began our tasting with a Brown Ale that was paired with melted brie, maple syrup, bread and roasted pecans. I have to say this was as tasty as it gets! Our second beer was a double I.P.A. During this tasting Phil had delivered a lesson on the process of brewing and what factors make for different brews. We also had a chance to smell and taste some roasted malt and smell a jar of hops. Although I was familiar with the brewing process, Phil gave a great rundown of how it is done and a definite must listen to anyone considering home brewing. 

Melted brie with maple syrup and roasted pecans
Looks messy, tastes amazing! Melted brie with maple syrup, roasted pecans and bread.
The rest of the tour would see the group through the St. Louis Square (dubbed "the closest thing to a European neighborhood square you'll find this side of the Atlantic" by the Project for Public Spaces, a non profit situated in New York). After that we ventured down an alleyway filled with little shops, bars and more that was a hidden gem and a highlight of the trip.

The next Brew Pub was Benelux located at 245 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest. Benelux as well is modern in style and offers a handful of beer. The beer you will taste here varies for each trip but because we had a bachelor party in our group Phil wanted to bring out the big guns percentage wise for them. We tried a 9% beer called Zoot which is an Abbey Tripel so it was hoppy in the finish which was great. And the last beer the group would have was an American Ale, something refreshing to finish the day.

Half empty glass of beer
Nectar of the gods. 
Unfortunately this is where the tour ended, but after scoping out some other bars and brew pubs along the way, we had an idea of where to go next! Thank you to Local Montreal for hosting us on this fantastic tour and to our guide Phil who was not only fun and engaging, but very knowledgable and willing to answer any question. If you are ever in the Montreal area and have 3 hours to spare I would recommend signing up for this tour!

Next time you are in Montreal be sure to book a tour with Local Montreal Tours via their website, They also host a Bachelor Party tour and a Mile End Food tour so be sure to check out their Twitter page for any updates.

Thanks again to Montreal Tourism and Local Montreal Tours for setting us at Real Man Travels up with this great experience! If you have been to any of these establishments or have done the walking tour be sure to let us know in the comment section below, on Twitter or on Facebook.

Ed Arsenault


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