Craft Beer Is Everywhere

BrewPub

The current trend in bars is the microbrewery. These places are all over Montreal serving beers other than those made by the big breweries. Craft beers have carved out a significant niche in the local pub business.

At one time the only beers available in most bars were those from Molson or Labatt. But more and more brewpubs, where they actually make their own beers, and craft beer bars are popping up.

46

Brutopia Montreal

The first place I ever went to that brewed its own beer was a Trois Brasseurs in Montreal. Not your typical brewpub given there are stores around the world, but they do brew their own on the premises. The most recent place I dropped into is called Restaurant L’Artisanale just up the street from Trois Brasseurs. (The fact that the sign says ArtIsAnAle appealed greatly to both the beer and word lover in me.)

In all honesty, I’m probably not going to be a big customer at any of these pubs. I find that for the most part, the craft beers tend to be too heavy and high in alcohol content for my liking. Until someone brews a light lager with about 4% alcohol content I’ll just have to stick with my Coors Light. This no doubt makes me somewhat of a beer heathen, but I’ll just have to live with that. Except of course for the occasional Guinness.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Advertisements

#TBT Montreal’s taverns; relics of the past

Once upon a time there was a tavern
Where we used to raise a glass or two
Remember how we laughed away the hours
And dreamed of all the great things we would do

Tav1
Those words were made famous in the late 1960s by Beatles protégé Mary Hopkin, in fact the popular recorded version was produced by Paul McCartney. But for many Montrealers something just didn’t ring true with the song. The city was full of taverns, that wasn’t the problem, but they were beer halls that were off-limits to women. So having a woman sing about fun in a tavern was a wee bit odd to some.

At one time Montreal had many neighborhood taverns like the one pictured at right (the photos in this post come from the Montreal City Archives).  Perhaps not as many as the ubiquitous English pub, found all over the UK, but enough that they play a significant role in the city’s heritage. I’m not referring to large, downtown establishments, but local watering holes. Taverns were for men only, they only served beer, either draft or bottled. Some had simple but usually tasty (and always unhealthy) food, but many only offered  peanuts, chips and, of course, the traditional pickled eggs. They opened early, often around eight o’clock in the morning and, by law, had to close at midnight.

There were no bars in taverns, just chairs and tables. No entertainment, just a television. Imitation wood paneling was de rigueur in Montreal taverns. The chairs and tables were basic but comfortable and required a simple setting of an ashtray and a salt shaker for the pickled eggs, or to revive the head on your draft.  Taverns with air conditioning usually cranked it up to the maximum, but many used only floor fans to keep patrons cool. A single television, basic home-style, not a giant screen projection get-up,  was suspended on a bracket and used primarily for sports events.
Tav2
The beer served was local bottled or draft. As I’ve mentioned before, don’t confuse “draft” with “on-tap”. You can now have the finest beers in the world on-tap, as opposed to bottled. For instance, Guinness on-tap comes in kegs and is pulled fresh around the globe. Guinness in bottles and cans is a different animal. But the draft beer served in Montreal taverns was a special, some would say inferior,  product brewed by the main breweries and served ice-cold from taps. It was available in pitchers, steins or glasses. The glasses were ordered at least two at a time as they probably only held six or eight ounces. In my opinion these were the best way to drink draft beer.  The cash register in photo on the left shows a sale of 45 cents has been rung up. These photos were taken on July 15, 1963, significantly before I started drinking beer, draft or otherwise, but I’d guess the 45 cent sale was 9 glasses of draft at a nickel each.

Taverns were places where men could meet to have a few glasses and solve the problems of the world, or sit in peaceful solitude enjoying some cold ones while lost in thought. Many taverns were owned by Montreal Canadiens  players and therefore afforded an opportunity to talk hockey with a pro. Next to the beer, the atmosphere was the draw. Similar to the British pub, people frequented their local tavern, or maybe one close to their workplace, where they felt at home. Waiters seemed to stay working at the same place for years and would greet you by name or if you were new they’d refer to you as Boss or Chief or some other moniker.

It wasn’t all beer and skittles mind you;  occasionally a patron would over-indulge in the cheap beer and become rowdy. Fights often broke out over one thing or another. Card games and even arm-wrestling were not allowed in an attempt to keep a lid on well oiled, overly competitive drinkers.
Tav3
The Montreal tavern was pushed aside in the 1970s by establishments known as Brasseries (the French word for brewery, but also used to refer to a “fine” drinking establishment). These newfangled places were heavy on glass and chrome, served beer and wine, could stay open until 1:00 am,  and were open to both men and women.

Sadly both taverns and brasseries soon were things of the past as people moved out of the inner city neighborhoods in favor of the suburbs. The local tavern didn’t fit into that environment.

I guess I’m caught up in my subject because before posting I keep hitting the “draft” button, but no beer arrives…

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Coors Light Box of Thirty Cans: Caveat emptor

Coors

Check closely for can size and price

Dear Molson Coors,

I have long been a consumer of your Coors Light product. I have been very satisfied with the quality of this beer. Recently, while entertaining guests from out of town,  I had cause to purchase a larger amount of beer than usual. I bought one 30 can box of Coors Light then a day or so later augmented that with another box of thirty.

I was very surprised when I got my second box home and opened it to find that the cans were not the usual 355 mL but smaller 296 mL. What really annoyed me was that I had paid the same price for both, but at different stores.

Unless side by side the two boxes look very much the same, making this a bit of a scam in my opinion. Is it usual business practice for MolsonCoors to trick its clients?

With the current hot Montreal summer I will no doubt continue to consume your product, even if I feel cheated.

The old saying – Caveat emptor – or let the buyer beware still holds true.

Cheers,

DCMontreal

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Dear Coors, Please Stop Messing With My Head

 

Can_Opener

Dear Coors,

Long have I been a happy consumer of your Light beer. It is my intention to go on enjoying your product, but you have to stop messing with my head. Yes I do realize that one of the characteristics of the consumption of alcoholic beverages is the potential to experience altered brain activity, including the inability to properly gauge one’s level of attractiveness to the opposite sex.

My gripe is not the actual beer, but rather the gimmicky packaging

My gripe is not the actual beer, but rather the gimmicky packaging. First it was mountains depicted on cans that turned blue when appropriately frigid. This reminded me of when I was young and my grandmother had an ornament, it was a poodle, that changed between pink and blue depending on atmospheric conditions and therefore acted as a harbinger of wet or dry weather.

Then you came out with the little second hole punch on your cans. Again nothing new; when I was growing up the pull tab was but a wishful thought in some engineer’s mind. Of course at that time I was limited to soft drinks, but they came in cans that required manual hole punching to get at the content. Punching two holes, opposite each other, provided a flow of air that produced a smooth pour.

Again nothing new; when I was growing up the pull tab was but a wishful thought in some engineer’s mind

The use of the neat little contraption on your cans that punched the first hole, then swivelled to pop the second, became second nature after a while. So much so that I found myself trying to do it with soft drink cans not equipped with the technology. Then, from one 12-pack to the next, the second hole punch was gone. Vanished. I suspect it dawned on the Coors folks that this thing was really more of a nuisance than a help, so back to the old single hole cans they went. Unfortunately I still find myself trying to pop that second hole.

Please tell me that you are through with these marketing ruses, and will concentrate on your fine beer!

(By the way I will be pleased to provide you with my complete home address should you wish to express your appreciation – with or without second hole technology – for my suggestions.)

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Guinness Going Vegan … Remember ‘New Coke’

Shawn Pogatchnik/Associated Press

Recently the folks at Guinness breweries announced that they were going to alter the 256 year-old recipe so as to make their world famous beer vegan. The beer will no longer include isinglass, a jelly-like protein scraped from the swim bladders of fish. Phew, thank god for that. I can’t tell you the number of times I have found myself spitting out blobs of swim bladder and demanding a full refund.

In honesty I can’t help but think that the time-tested adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” was coined for situations like this.

I have just two words for the good brewers at Guinness: New Coke.

Instead of calling it Classic, they should have been honest and marketed it as “Oops-Coke”

If you are over forty, or if you have done a wee bit of research, you will be familiar with Coca-Cola’s attempt to mow Pepsi-Cola’s lawn by changing their recipe to appeal to Pepsi drinkers. Not surprisingly millions of Coke drinkers were up in arms at the change. Within a short time, the company backtracked and  introduced Classic Coke trying to satisfy its market. Instead of calling it Classic, they should have been honest and marketed it as “Oops-Coke”. I know people who were Coke drinkers who to this day no longer drink It claiming it is still just not the same.

So I suggest the Guinness people think long and hard about the change they have, or will make. Don’t worry about trying to be all things to all people, if vegans balk at your brew, I think you will still do well. Whereas if you turn off your longtime consumers you may regret things as did Coke.

 

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Confessions of a Beer Heathen, a Hop Heretic, a Lager Lightweight

BeerGlasses

Here in Montreal the long cold winter may, just may, have loosened its dreadful grip on the city. While not as snow-laden as others in the north-east had to endure, our winter was particularly cold. Some would have you believe that cold is the way to go, as it does not require shoveling and causes less travel inconvenience. But I would hasten to point out that snow, unlike extreme cold, does not hurt.

The sun’s warmth is starting to win its battle with the cold air and can be felt on one’s skin. Birds chirp and with daylight savings the days are wonderfully long. There can be no doubt, it’s barbecue time, it’s hockey playoff time, but mostly it’s cold beer time.

It is also rumored that beer can cause both hardening of the arteries and erectile dysfunction. If that isn’t the cruelest irony I don’t know what is.

I like beer. I really like beer.  In fact family members and doctors would have you believe I like it too much, but then what do they know. These are the same people who would have you believe drinking beer causes one to put on weight. Huh! I can understand how drinking milkshakes could add to one’s midriff, but something that is the same consistency as water, and which will be jettisoned (they say you don’t buy beer, you just rent it) in the men’s room? C’mon, I’m not falling for that. It is also rumored that beer can cause both hardening of the arteries and erectile dysfunction. If that isn’t the cruelest irony I don’t know what is.

RollingRock

In addition to being a beer lover, perhaps paradoxically, I am also a beer heathen, a hop heretic, a lager lightweight. No fancy microbrewery maple bacon ale with a hint of pine needle and dash of pumpkin seed nectar shit for me. Give me ice cold light beer; buckets of it if you please. A frosty freezer-housed glass and some cold beer light enough to allow me to consume vast quantities yet still feel and show virtually no signs of inebriation and I’m a happy lad. Those super high alcohol content beers, many from the Netherlands, are popular at my corner store, but are not my cup of tea.

It’s beer for Christ’s sake, get it down your neck and get in the next round.

I do appreciate the wonder of a pint or two of Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day. And I do have a soft spot for chilled Younger’s Tartan Ale with a good Indian meal. A Hoegaarden or two as a palette cleanser goes well. I am a big fan of Newcastle Brown Ale. But for the main event bring on the Coors Light, blue mountains and all. Someone once asked me if the mountains depicted on the Coors Light cans really do turn blue when they reach a certain temperature. I had to admit I’d never had one in my fridge for that long. Do I hear a Rolling Rock, the official beer of Easter morning, calling my name?

I can picture beer connoisseurs looking down their noses – all the way along their crystal schooners of Sparrow’s Spit Pale Ale – at this revelation, but I don’t care. By all means sit back and discuss the merits of a Pilsner over a lager. Swish it around your mouth and pontificate on how it dances over your tongue and taste buds. It’s beer for Christ’s sake, get it down your neck and get in the next round.

Coors

It gets better: my local big box supermarket knocks five bucks off the price of a thirty can crate of Coors Light on Montreal Canadiens game days. With the team starting what I hope will be a long playoff run, during which they play every second day, I stand to save a small fortune. Talk about a win win situation.

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Montreal’s First Heat Wave Arrives

From a few months ago, here’s my heat wave potion!

Montrealers are gearing-up for the first serious heat wave of the summer. Over the next few days temperatures will hit the upper thirties Celsius and the humidity will kick-in to make it feel like 40°C or about 105°F.  Cicadas will be singing, swimming pools will be packed, malls will provide an air conditioned oasis for those who lack it at home, and the pace of life will slow down.  A list of requirements includes both sunblock and an umbrella for those pop-op storms,  a good shade-providing tree, a lawn chair, several books and magazines, perhaps even a jazz festival … and I know there’s something else, but I just can’t think of it …

 

Heat wave necessity

Heat wave necessity

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Montreal under boil water advisory; call me when they issue a boil beer advisory

The problem is you get used to doing so many things without thinking

Montreal is currently in the throes of a boil water advisory; a huge boil water advisory. Those of us who consider ourselves urbanites often scoff when we hear of the occasional suburban water warning. Ha, we say, all part of living out in the boonies. Here in the heart of modernity we don’t have to worry about such things. Well … not often at least.

… you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone

Almost 1.5 million residents on the island of Montreal are affected by this advisory. The warning implores us to start using bottled water or tap water that has been boiled for at least one minute for drinking, mixing with other drinks, preparing baby bottles and baby food, brushing teeth, washing raw fruits and vegetables, preparing vegetables for cooking and, making ice cubes. You can use tap water for laundry, bathing and running the dishwasher.

Alas, for the moment those feats of modern plumbing are off-limits, taped up like crime scenes.

You wouldn’t think that would be hard to do, but as the old saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. The problem is you get used to doing so many things without thinking, and now you have to think, and sometimes that hurts. Taking a vitamin pill, brushing your teeth, keeping your mouth shut in the shower (no singing); all actions usually done in an early morning fog now require a wee bit of forethought and planning. You’ve got to boil the water, let it cool, put some in a glass, make your way to the bathroom, and brush.

“Beer, so much more than a breakfast drink’! Here’s hoping they don’t issue a boil beer advisory!

I’m neither a camper nor backpacker. I love nature as I see it out my window or from a café terrace. I’m not a suburbanite who just takes these things in stride. I’m a city kid born and raised. I’m not a carrier of water (nor hewer of wood for that matter) in plastic bottles as I’m used to having fluoridated water spigots available at every turn; we call them faucets and water fountains. Alas, for the moment those feats of modern plumbing are off-limits, taped up like crime scenes.

I for one will be pleased when this is over, but for now I just keep thinking about that silly old T-shirt saying “Beer, so much more than a breakfast drink’! Here’s hoping they don’t issue a boil beer advisory!

Montreal’s taverns; relics of the past

Once upon a time there was a tavern
Where we used to raise a glass or two
Remember how we laughed away the hours
And dreamed of all the great things we would do

Tav1
Those words were made famous in the late 1960s by Beatles protégé Mary Hopkin, in fact the popular recorded version was produced by Paul McCartney. But for many Montrealers something just didn’t ring true with the song. The city was full of taverns, that wasn’t the problem, but they were beer halls that were off-limits to women. So having a woman sing about fun in a tavern was a wee bit odd to some.

At one time Montreal had many neighborhood taverns like the one pictured at right (the photos in this post come from the Montreal City Archives).  Perhaps not as many as the ubiquitous English pub, found all over the UK, but enough that they play a significant role in the city’s heritage. I’m not referring to large, downtown establishments, but local watering holes. Taverns were for men only, they only served beer, either draft or bottled. Some had simple but usually tasty (and always unhealthy) food, but many only offered  peanuts, chips and, of course, the traditional pickled eggs. They opened early, often around eight o’clock in the morning and, by law, had to close at midnight.

There were no bars in taverns, just chairs and tables. No entertainment, just a television. Imitation wood paneling was de rigueur in Montreal taverns. The chairs and tables were basic but comfortable and required a simple setting of an ashtray and a salt shaker for the pickled eggs, or to revive the head on your draft.  Taverns with air conditioning usually cranked it up to the maximum, but many used only floor fans to keep patrons cool. A single television, basic home-style, not a giant screen projection get-up,  was suspended on a bracket and used primarily for sports events.
Tav2
The beer served was local bottled or draft. As I’ve mentioned before, don’t confuse “draft” with “on-tap”. You can now have the finest beers in the world on-tap, as opposed to bottled. For instance, Guinness on-tap comes in kegs and is pulled fresh around the globe. Guinness in bottles and cans is a different animal. But the draft beer served in Montreal taverns was a special, some would say inferior,  product brewed by the main breweries and served ice-cold from taps. It was available in pitchers, steins or glasses. The glasses were ordered at least two at a time as they probably only held six or eight ounces. In my opinion these were the best way to drink draft beer.  The cash register in photo on the left shows a sale of 45 cents has been rung up. These photos were taken on July 15, 1963, significantly before I started drinking beer, draft or otherwise, but I’d guess the 45 cent sale was 9 glasses of draft at a nickel each.

Taverns were places where men could meet to have a few glasses and solve the problems of the world, or sit in peaceful solitude enjoying some cold ones while lost in thought. Many taverns were owned by Montreal Canadiens  players and therefore afforded an opportunity to talk hockey with a pro. Next to the beer, the atmosphere was the draw. Similar to the British pub, people frequented their local tavern, or maybe one close to their workplace, where they felt at home. Waiters seemed to stay working at the same place for years and would greet you by name or if you were new they’d refer to you as Boss or Chief or some other moniker.

It wasn’t all beer and skittles mind you;  occasionally a patron would over-indulge in the cheap beer and become rowdy. Fights often broke out over one thing or another. Card games and even arm-wrestling were not allowed in an attempt to keep a lid on well oiled, overly competitive drinkers.
Tav3
The Montreal tavern was pushed aside in the 1970s by establishments known as Brasseries (the French word for brewery, but also used to refer to a “fine” drinking establishment). These newfangled places were heavy on glass and chrome, served beer and wine, could stay open until 1:00 am,  and were open to both men and women.

Sadly both taverns and brasseries soon were things of the past as people moved out of the inner city neighborhoods in favor of the suburbs. The local tavern didn’t fit into that environment.

I guess I’m caught up in my subject because before posting I keep hitting the “draft” button, but no beer arrives…

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+