Lightside/Darkside – Chambly Beer Festival, part one

Lightside/Darkside – Chambly Beer Festival, part one

It seems like a couple of months since I was strolling around Chambly tasting beers in the sun and indeed it was.  It has taken me almost two months to get around to writing up a few notes on the eleven beers I tried that day at the beer festival with memory fading, however a few of the beers really stood out…


No. 315 – Les 2 Frères Charles Henri Blanche
2017-09-02 - 315 - Les 2 Frères Charles Henri Blanche _500beers
It started with a blanche.  After having walked from a car park quite far from the site of the festival I was rather parched and so a light refreshing beer was in order.  This is a very bubbly white beer, with a strong fruity aroma and was the perfect starter. It is not as heavy as some white beers tend to be, as you can see in the picture it is a lighter more transparent colour. It is very refreshing and hints of citrus come through subtly in the flavour. Well worth a try – 7/11.

Nos. 316 and 319 – Le Trefle Noir El Sicimo and Z’Aleda (A link to the cask)

I chose Le Trefle Noir’s El Sicimo after the Charles Henri Blanche to take a step up in bitterness.  It was however a little disappointing.  It looks decent, and has a strong aroma – I got pineapple from it.  Taste-wise though it was a little overwhelmingly bitter and a little heavy in the throat afterwards.  It’s getting 3.5, which is difficult as the only other Trefle Noir beer to get such a low mark was their Gosebuster – which is a style of beer that I just don’t like that much.

While waiting for El Sicimo I noticed that Z’Aleda would be available at 3pm.  Being somewhat of a geek about A Link to the Past, I had to try this.  I regret that now.  It was actually a joint venture with Lagabière and Le Memphré if my notes do not deceive me.  The aroma is good, with a nice hint of pineapple.  The taste was unfortunately quite bland, a little hoppy but the promise of the aroma was sadly lacking.  2/11.

No. 320. Brasseurs Illimités Simple Malt Thorador
2017-09-02 - 320 - Brasseurs Illimités Simple Malt Thorador _500beers

Not too many notes on this one!  What I did write on the day…
‘Nice beer, it’s malty at first then the hops come through with a deep bitterness.  It’s somewhat layered – probably worth trying by the bottle.’  I gave it 5/11, I may revisit it in January when I do the beer-off.

Nos. 322 and 323 – Dieu du Ciel’s Immoralité and Genèse
2017-09-02 - Dieu du Ciel _500beers

I was looking forward to Dieu du Ciel as I was looking to pick up a glass but they didn’t have any for sale!

In any case, both these beers got a decent 5/11.

Immoralité was a nice imperial IPA with a fruity aroma and decent flavour, I didn’t think it was anything special though.  This is possibly another beer to revisit as I’ve taken to Imperial IPAs over the last two or so weeks.

Genèse is an apricot tripel.  It’s definitely tripel and it definitely has some apricot in the aroma but it didn’t come through to strongly in the taste.  Decent but I’m not sure I would bother to retry it.  My favourite apricot beer is the St. Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale.

So that’s the lightside of Chambly sorted, a really good white beer found and a couple of other decent 5/11s.  Unsurprisingly, if you’ve read anything I’ve written so far, the darkside gets better marks.  Next time, some porter, some black IPA, some dopplebock and a brown ale.


How to and how not to hand model + 2 from La Succarsale

How to and how not to hand model
+ 2 from La Succarsale

There are times when it is just not possible to easily take a picture of a beer.  Times when it is necessary to request aid from a friend who will help you document your year of alcoholism.  This post is a thank you to everyone who has held a beer while I try to take a decent picture (see the list of names below – thank you all*).  It is also a friendly middle finger to those who try to hinder me at every opportunity (you know who you are).

How to and how not to hand model

Good hand modelling is not difficult.  The important thing is to hold the beer so that you can see any logos and so that your hand does not cover too much of the beer.  Examples…

It is also possible to get some interesting pictures and effects with effective hand modelling.  Examples…

However, people are also tempted to hand model or interfere in other less useful ways.  Examples…

2 from La Succarsale

What good fortune that a friend who has just moved back to Montreal has moved less than thirty seconds from a micro-brewery!

No. 416 – La Succarsale 1814 Porter
2017-10-28 - 416 - La Succarsale 1814 Porter _500beers

A fine porter with a warm milk chocolate aroma.  It does not quite follow up on this promise, but it is a decent porter that I would recommend.  Oddly refreshing after a twenty minute walk at full speed.  6/11

No. 417 – La Succarsale Vienna Lager
2017-10-28 - 417 - La Succarsale Vienna Lager _500beers

Somewhat dark looking for a lager, it felt more like a standard blond ale.  I should have started with this rather than the porter as it was a good beer that I found refreshing.  It won’t be high up in the reckoning of the best beer at the end of the year, but I would definitely recommend giving it a go if you are in the area and fancy something refreshing.  5/11

I have had one other beer at La Succarsale and will probably try one or two more before the end of the year – it’s a promising place, no bad beers yet.

*In alphabetical order for convenience, it’s no comment on your skills as a model…
Alice, Charlotte, David, Declan, Elspeth, Éric, Jess, Jordan, Moussa, Rachid, Sophie


Brussels & Belgian Beers, No. 407 – Orval

Brussels & Belgian Beers, No. 407 – Orval

I’ve noticed in one or two bars around town a selection of imported beers at very high prices, some of which I recall tasting back home and during my trips to Europe.  I’ve never bothered to buy one as I’d rather savour it at my own leisure.  However, I did notice a decent selection available at the SAQ for very reasonable prices.  Hence Orval.

This got me thinking about the perception of European beers and more specifically Belgian beers to someone from the British Isles and how they compare to the beers I’ve tried from Quebec so far.

Belgian Beers

Drinking more often than not for several years in Belfast meant that I had a particular taste for Carlsberg and was used to it’s effects.  It’s not strong, but tastes fine and several can get you quite drunk.  I also had a perception of Belgian beers as being very strong, something that you would buy to get smashed quickly.  I went to Brussels for a few days and not long after arriving decided to try a few over dinner.  Having already had a pint or two of Guinness before a stroll around La Grande Place, I was already in a good mood.*  I tried the two beers, that both came in lovely chalices and were presented with the bottle – how classy – and thought that they were fine, particularly the Chimay.  On exiting the restaurant, it hit me that I was quite drunk.  I immediately had an appreciation of these ‘stronger’ Belgian beers.

Those two beers weigh in at a nice 7% each, which after ten months of trying beers in Quebec seems normal to me.  In fact, it turns out that 7% is the average of my favourite beers so far.  My preferences generally range from about 6% – 9%, with some exceptions.  This seems to show that Quebec microbrewery has changed my tastes to what I would have considered very European tastes.  The explanation and the reasoning may not be clear, but with 4 or 5% beers being what I would have considered normal and good five years ago I’ve come to appreciate stronger beers and consider 7% the new normal.

No. 407 – Orval

2017-10-22 - 407 - Orval poured _500beers

So, as I said, I picked this up from the SAQ in an attempt to find some non-Quebec beers for comparison’s sake.  As you can see, it’s very frothy, and bubbly and the beer itself is a cloudy orangey yellow.  The aroma was interesting.  It promised to be malty thick beer, but there was also a hint of brettanomyces that suggested leather, but it was much more subtle than Dieu du Ciel’s Dernière Volonté.  This comes through at little in the flavour but it’s not distracting from a fine malty beer with a hoppy fizz on the tongue.  It’s quite good!

I’m giving it 6/11 for being good, for the price, for being accurate, for being a little unique, for drink-again-ability and for recommend-ability.

So that’s that.  Next…

*good mood meaning tipsy when I use it.

No. 412 – Le Bilboquet’s Saint Barnabé Sud

No. 412 – Le Bilboquet’s Saint Barnabé Sud

I have in mind a little day trip to Saint Hyacinthe before the end of the year.  An opportunity to get out of Montreal for a morning, walk around and take photos of a new place.  Then I shall go to Le Bilboquet’s bar and have a nice new beer.  In the meantime, here is there strawberry beer…

2017-10-27 - 412 - Le Bilboquet Saint Barnabé Sud poured _500beers

It’s a healthy dark golden orange colour with a little hint of rouge and the aroma is of sweet strawberries.  The head is bubbly and tastes lovely.  It’s creamy, a little malty and froths nicely with a little bitter fizz at the end.  The strawberry is perfectly balanced, at no point did I think that this beer was too sweet or that I wasn’t tasting enough of it.  This is a really good beer and even the last gulp was creamy, malty and a little strawberryey.

Yes, it’s good.
Yes, it’s worth the price.
Yes, it’s accurate.
Yes, it’s a little different or unique.
Yes, I’d drink it again.
Yes, I’d recommend it.
Yes, I’d go out of my way for it.
Yes, I’d go out in a snowstorm or a heatwave for it.


I haven’t had a bad beer from Le Bilboquet.  I will try to do a summary of the other beers I’ve tasted from them soon (La Champêtre, Peau d’Ours, La Corriveau Impérial, L’Archange, MacKroken Flower and Geminus).


No. 411 – À l’Abri de la Tempête Bot’A Ouelle

No. 411 – À l’Abri de la Tempête Bot’A Ouelle

Getting into a routine of trying a beer and writing about it before I forget – it’s just a shame that I’ve over two hundred to write about with only a selection of notes and blurry memories…

2017-10-26 - A l'Abri de la Tempete Bot'A Ouelle poured _500beers

Yesterday, I decided to buy a beer from a new microbrewery, along with one from Le Trefle Noir and one from Le Bilboquet – tried and tested breweries with some fine beers. 

I chose À l’Abri de la Tempête pretty much because it was cheap.  It was a good choice.

This is a really good beer.  It looks great in the glass, a golden yellow with a fine fizzy bubbly head that froths in the mouth and the aroma has a certain je ne sais quoi.  It’s malty and smells like it will present a strong bitter taste.  There is a hint of lemon that comes through as well oddly enough.  Upon checking other reviews, I noticed that other fruits were mentioned, but I didn’t really get those.  In any case, it was an enticing aroma.

2017-10-26 - A l'Abri de la Tempete Bot'A Ouelle desc. _500beers

For an 8% beer, this sure does not taste feel strong.  In fact, it tastes great.  It was light, almost fluffy and the maltyness created a fine creamy texture in the front of the mouth.  There was only a little hoppy bitterness that came through, which to me was great – I prefer malt to hops.  The taste is all front of the mouth and doesn’t really linger long afterwards.  I get the impression I could drink several of these easily without getting tired of the texture and taste.

Yes, it’s good.
Yes, it’s well worth the price.
Yes, it’s accurate.
Yes, I’d drink it again.
Yes, I’d recommend it.
Yes, I’d go out of my way for it.
Yes, I’d go out in a snowstorm or a heatwave for it.
And Yes, I would fight a bear for it – I’d punch it right on the snout!

A very good 8/11.

I can’t wait to try their other beers.

A day in the life

A day in the life

5am – wake up, hit snooze, repeat every 15 minutes until…

7.15am – wake up, get up, shower and have breakfast – lots of milk to balance out the acidity of the night before’s beer…

8.15am – blue line, orange line, green line…

9.10am – work, while pondering whether or not to take a long lunch and go in search of beers…

11.55am – go in search of beers, a little trip to Maltehops on Wellington in Verdun – picked up a Trefle Noir, a Bilboquet and something I’ve not heard of before…

12.45pm – work…

6.05pm – leg it to the bar for a micro-brewery evening…

7.00pm – take the following uselessly blurry picture of the beer menu…
2017-10-25 - Et Oh _500beers

7.10pm – No. 409 – EtOh’s Robust Brown Ale
2017-10-25 - 409 - Et Oh Robust Brown Ale _500beers

After trying a few times to take a picture of the beer without somebody putting their middle finger in the way I finally tasted this.  It’s ok, I didn’t really get any caramel or toffee from it, rather a little warmth hinting at a scotch ale.  When I say a little I mean a little.   It was a fine beer with a strong deep bitterness to it but it lacked that sweetness that I like in a brown ale, before the bitterness.  However, it will get a pretty good 6/11.

7.40ish pm – No. 410 – EtOh’s Ale Rousse Fumé
2017-10-25 - 410 - Et Oh Ale Rousse Fumé _500beers

The picture doesn’t really do it justice, it wasn’t as muddy as it seems here.  This was actually going to be my first choice but the waiter came over when I wasn’t really paying attention so I order the beer that I could remember best.  The aroma was a mixture of pumpkin, cinnamon and something else a little strange.  To taste, it was like a light red ale, not much toffee or sweetness but a nicely balanced smokey flavour.  I’ve had smoked beers in the past that have lingered for days but this was just right.  I liked this one as well, it’s also going to get a 6/11 – well worth trying.

8.20pm – leave the bar in search of pizza…

8.30pm – find pizza and get home asap…

9pm – eat pizza while writing up the day!

I’ve been to EtOh in the past a few times and never had a really good beer there, so this evening was somewhat better than expected to the extent that I may go back to try some more.

No. 408 – Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

No. 408 – Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

The vast majority of the beers I have tried to date have been from Quebec breweries with the exception of a few imports that you can get at most bars around town.  Seeking to add a little variety to my beer list, I decided to check out an SAQ to see what other international beers were easily available close to my workplace.  Their selection seems pretty good online, a load of Belgian beers, some German, British, Irish, Italian and Greek but it seems to be a lottery when you actually go in to one of their stores.  On Friday, from the smallest beer selection I’ve seen so far, I picked out three beers, all reasonably priced from outside Québec.  Typically, I’m going to put a few notes about the third of them up first…

I wasn’t too sure what this would be like, most of the craft beers I tried when I was back home earlier in the year were fine without being anything special.  However, this is a mixture of my favourite things.  I like stout and have never had any food described as ‘double chocolate’ that has been disappointing.  Further to this, a google search reveals that it gets some very good reviews here and there.  I don’t normally check out other reviews but once in a while it is interesting to see if my tastes match those of other people.

It pours nicely and gives a frothy light brown head, though I had to work at it to get it looking good.  The aroma is that of a decent stout with a hint of chocolate.  However, there is nothing that stands out, nothing that I haven’t noticed or been impressed by in many other stouts and porters over the year.  So it starts off a little disappointing by comparison to other beers I’ve tried.

To taste, it feels like a slightly more watery Guinness texture wise, with a dark chocolate aftertaste that lingers in the mouth a while.  It has a nice immediate sweetness to it which is rather subtle, not what I was expecting to be honest.  I’d have liked a richer flavour rather than a little sweetness and an aftertaste that builds slowly as you get through the bottle.  This all makes it a little hard to rate.

Yes, it is good, I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy it.  It’s definitely worth the $4 or so that I paid for it, so that’s another Yes.  Is it accurate though?  Not really, it’s like a porter and didn’t feel ‘double chocolate’ to me as such I’m giving it half of a Yes, a Ye if you will and the same for being a little different as I’m in a generous mood.  I’m also going to give it a Yes for drink-again-ability and a Yes for recommend-ability.  5/11

This is a perfectly fine beer and I think my disappointment with it and the relatively average mark comes from the fact that I have tried many great stouts so far this year from places such as Dieu du Ciel.  I will however reconsider this one in January when I do the Beer-Off to determine the best beer available in Montreal.



No. 400 – Les Bières Béluga’s Scotch Ale

No. 400 – Les Bières Béluga’s Scotch Ale

It feels a little strange writing about the landmark of beer number 400 for the year before having written about the landmark of 365 beers that was achieved mid-September – but that won’t stop me. 

I had a house party yesterday, a Super Nintendo evening in fact, and at the beginning of the evening was at 396 beers, with four new beers in the fridge.  Those beers were Boréale IPA (the regular one), Les 2 Frère’s Hickson Imperial IPA, Dieu du Ciel’s Rigor Mortis and a curious orca themed beer.  Needless to say these beers have all been tested and it was Les Bières Béluga’s Scotch Ale that got the honour of being No. 400…

If I have learned anything this year, it is that I like scotch ales, porters and stouts more than any other type of beer.  Sometimes it feels that one or two of the styles are blending together when I taste them now.  This was the case with this beer.

I hadn’t noticed that it was ‘à l’érable’ before I tasted it, so I was expecting a dark beer with a little sweetness initially followed by a warm bittersweet aftertaste.  Oddly, the aroma made me think more of a porter – I got cocoa from it and a little sweetness but didn’t really get that scotchy warmth that you get from a good scotch ale.  I also got a strange hoppy aroma from it, which was a little odd.

To taste, it was malty, a little warm and there was a chocolate hint to it.  It did however make me think more of a porter.  There was also a little sweetness to it, which must come from the maple and it was quite refreshing but it didn’t have the lasting warmth of a scotch ale.  I had two other people try it as well – one of whom seemed to agree with my assessment that it wasn’t really a scotch ale, and the other getting some hints of scotch ale from it.  I’m not entirely sure what conclusions to draw from that as they would both know their beers a bit – but it confirms for me that it’s a bit of a mixed up beer.

It’s a difficult one to rate – I’m giving one Yes for the adoption of Al (image above right) to begin with.  It’s a decent beer, definitely not bad, so it gets a Yes for being good.  It was definitely worth the fiver I paid for it so that’s a third Yes.  Accuracy is a problem, I can’t give it a Yes because it wasn’t a true scotch ale to me, but I will give it one for being different.  Yes I’d recommend trying it and Yes I’d try it again but that would be as far as I would go – 6/11.

I was initially a little disappointed by this but on further reflection I think it was quite good.  Maybe I’m just in a good mood because I’m not too far away from 500 beers.  Write ups on the other three beers I had last night will follow at some point.

No. 392 – A smashing pumpkin ale

No. 392 – A smashing pumpkin ale

I am one of those people who likes to put some kind of theme to each post.  Today, I was going to try, try, try to write about St. Ambroise with as many Smashing Pumpkins references* as possible (their 90s incarnation being one of my favourite bands).  Tonight, tonight, it is somewhat difficult – I’ve zero inspiration and am drawing a blank.  In any case, this post is about a pumpkin ale…

2017-10-10 - 392 - St. Ambroise Citrouille poured _500beers

So far, I’ve tried two pumpkin ales (Mill St. Brewery and Brutopia) and they’ve been fine without being anything special.  This one is my favourite to date.  It pours a lovely amber pumpkin colour and the pumpkin aroma is strong when allowed to breath.  The pumpkin hits at the back of the tongue and builds to a nice aftertaste but what is most interesting about this beer is that it’s just a really drinkable beer.  There’s very little bitterness in it, it’s not too sweet either – it’s got a really nice balance.  I could drink these all day and not get sick of the flavour.  This is not something I can say about many beers with individual or unique flavours.

I’m giving it a strong 7/11 for being good, well worth the price, accurate, for drink-again-ability, recommend-ability and for the fact that I would go out of my way for it possibly in a snowstorm (hopefully, there will be snow soon to justify that question).

I’m nearly at 400 different beers, slightly ahead of schedule so I’m going to take the opportunity over the next week to post about the following…

Brasseurs du Nord – Boréal beers
Northern Ireland – part two
The Chambly Beer Festival
Octoberfest at the Atwater Market
Home brewing
And many more!

*six is enough, no prize for spotting them, they’re pretty obvious.