Experiencing local culture is an incredible way to fall in love with a place and its people. When you do that with someone who has insider knowledge and a vast expertise, that feeling of falling love with the city is inevitable. Especially when food is involved.
With an afternoon to spare, I decided to try out the Montréal Brewpub Experience. Accompanied by a well-researched and passionate tour guide (about both beers and the city), a selection of craft beers, and mouthwatering appetizers, it was a fantastic introduction to Montréal.
About the Montréal Brewpub Experience
The Montréal Brewpub experience is one of several tours offered by Montreal Craft Beer Tours.
As a part of the 3-hour journey, you have the chance to enjoy 6 craft beer tasting, local food, and the ambiance of three brewpubs (pubs that brew their own beers). Each of the beers is found solely in Montréal, a thriving environment for craft beer brewers.
Founded by Frédérik Nissen and Ismael Ulvik, the Montreal Craft Beer Tour was originally under the umbrella of Local Montréal Tours. It has since grown into its own and was even awarded with a grand prize from Tourism Montreal in 2013.
As you make your way from one pub to the next, your tour guide offers a little insight into the history of Montréal. You’re introduced to the library and university life in Montréal – particularly as the pubs are lively with local university students. You also stroll through the former Red-Light District as you learn about Machine Gun Molly. But it doesn’t end there. You’re also shown where the the Montréal Jazz Festival and other music events are hosted.
En route to each pub, you get glimpses of historic buildings, parks, various attractions, and the beautiful designs of the homes in the city. The tour takes place come rain or shine and you cover a distance of approximately 1.3 miles.
On the Montreal Brewpub Tour, you do more than just drink beer – you experience it. Our guide shared a behind the scenes look at the process that goes into crafting a beer, the histories behind the different brews in Montréal, and the characteristics you look for in a high quality beer.
You have the chance to smell and taste the ingredients, meet visitors and the locals alike, as well as try a variety of beers – everything from Hefeweizen to an IPA and a Stout.
At each Brewpub, you have the chance to savour two drinks. Brasserie St-Bock served two seasonal craft beers. The first is a fruity beverage traditionally brewed in the summer. It had hints of guava and passionfruit that added to the sweetness of the beer. We wrapped up with a malt roasted seasonal selection paired with poutine. It was fascinating hearing about the history of these two selections and set the tone for the duration of the tour.
L’amère à Boire served a German-style Hefeweizen that was unique in character. Personally, I wasn’t a fan (and I typically enjoy Hefeweizen’s). But the second selection redeemed the first. We ended with a Czech beer that not only had a nice feel to it, but it perfectly suited the outdoor patio where our tour had collected at this stop.
The third pub, Benelux, greeted us with both bold flavours and energy. After being shuffled towards reserved tables at the back of the restaurant, we were immediately served with an IPA before closing out with an Imperial Stout.
Our guide did an incredible job teaching us how to properly taste the various beers, but the tour ensures that you are equipped with the knowledge necessary to become a more informed beer drinker at home. In addition to a guide on local venues and the best beers for each location, the booklet for the tour includes information on not just beer tasting but beer and cheese tasting. You’re shown what to look for in both beers and cheeses – appearance, aroma, mouthfeel, flavour, and finish. It makes for an incredible learning experience.
At the first stop, you’re served a small plate of the local delicacy – poutine. Brasserie St. Bock serves the dish with a Westmalle Double beer gravy and cheese curds. It was rich and delicious and paired nicely with the malt roasted brew. The curds were the perfect texture and the serving the perfect size.
The second stop, L’amère à Boire, serves chips with a tzaziki style dip, a cube of cheese and beef gravlax wrapped around a fruit confit. When I heard what gravlax was, I must admit, I was tentative to try it. But the bite was small so I figured, “why not?” The sweet and salty blend did not disappoint.
Finally, the food portion of the tour wraps up with an assortment of chocolates at Benelux. The secret, we were told, was to divide the chocolates in half so that you could enjoy each beer along with the different textures and flavours of chocolate.
To Sum Up
Montreal Craft Beer Tours is an excellent way to get a taste of the local food and drinks, learn a bit about food and beer pairings, and discover Montréal. You gain insight into not only the craft beer trends and processes in Montréal, but into the city’s rich history. It’s educational and a lovely way to discover both the local food and culture.
In total, you have around two pints of beer as a part of the tour. Prices at the time of writing are $64CAD + tax.
For more information please visit Montreal Craft Beer Tours.
Please note: I was given a place on the tour in exchange for this review, but all opinions are my own. I do not earn a commission if you decide to book a tour with them on your visit to Montréal.