If there’s one thing Montreal is known for, it’s the town's bustling party scene. So when travel agency Expedia recently rated cities across Canada for their local beer, it came as no surprise that Montreal topped the list. The McGill Tribune took a look into this rating by exploring three of the best local breweries—two recommended from Expedia’s list—outside of the McGill bubble.
This quaint Jean-Talon spot exudes sophistication. With millennial-pink tiling, gold-handled taps, and brown and white accents throughout the space, Harricana’s defining trait is its aesthetic. As large front windows welcome rays of light onto short round tables, Harricana feels more like a tea room in Cuba than a Little Italy brewery. Its selection of beers—showcased in large metal cylinders through clear glass windows behind the bar—is extensive, and can be ordered in three glass sizes. For those interested in tasting a wide selection of their brews, made on location, we recommend purchasing multiple 5 oz. drinks. The four of us tasted a succession of beers varying in strength and colour. The Blonde Funky, a derivative of a typical blonde beer, satisfies with sour corners and wild hues. Le Rosé Cidre proved to be another strong choice. An amalgamation of wine and beer’s best traits, it’s both tart and foamy, with the distinct sweetness of any rosé. But be warned: The size of these drinks makes them easy to knock back in a few gulps if you’re not careful.
Vices & Versa
A self-described “friendly bistro” nestled in the heart of Little Italy, Vices & Versa is a welcoming shelter from biting autumnal winds. This brewpub prides itself on its selection of 35 tap beers made in microbreweries across Quebec, which patrons can enjoy in both a 5 oz. tasting format as well as in traditional pint and pitcher sizes. Vices & Versa also serves other alcoholic beverages among an extensive list of snack food options. The beer choices are inscribed on a chalkboard which, while quaint, is difficult to read and makes choosing a drink a bit more difficult. We opted for the Gaélique Cream Ale, the Ginger Beer au Curcuma, the Motel Coconut, and the 26 Brown Ale. Our beers were unpretentious—good, but certainly nothing out of the ordinary—with the notable exception of the ginger beer, which was a zesty surprise for the four of us.
Pro tip: Follow up your beer tasting with a piping hot pupusa—a Salvadoran stuffed tortilla—from Sabor Latino Andes farther up Boulevard Saint-Laurent.
Dieu du Ciel!
Lines start forming outside Dieu du Ciel! well before happy hour, and upon entering, it’s easy to see why. This trendy neighbourhood institution has been serving beer to Mile End residents since 1998. On the outside, it looks like your run-of-the-mill gastropub with its modest design, crowded tables, and dim mood lighting. However, there’s a lot more to Dieu du Ciel! than meets the eye. Its in-house brews experiment with audacious flavour combinations that incorporate less traditional tastes, such as peach, caramel, and hibiscus. For the beer skeptic, we recommend any of the bar’s fruit-infused beers. Été Indien, a sour mango beer, and Solstice d’Été aux Prunes, a sour prune beer, both pack a punch; the strong citrus notes counter the bitterness of traditional brews. Route des Épice, a rye beer with peppercorn, is another adventurous pick, but not nearly as rewarding. The pepper taste is overpowering, making this beer good for a sip, but not for a whole glass. Nonetheless, Dieu du Ciel!’s unorthodox offerings and eclectic selection make it well worth the trip up Boulevard Saint-Laurent.