A visit to Mondial de la Bière 2024 (30th edition!)

Montréal! It's been a few minutes! The last time I was in the city was exactly four years ago.. but then a certain pandemic happened. Sure, I could have gone to Quebec in the past two years but life happens and last year I had some health issues. 

Almost every year I go to Montreal, it's during the ever famous Mondial de la Bière festival and this year is no exception. This year I spent most of the time people watching, chatting with a few brewers and of course - sample a few beers.

After a five year hiatus of going to the event, I noticed something - there weren't as many people this year in the general prime hours as there would be in previous years. I attribute to that one big thing that's going on everywhere - people aren't drinking beer as much anymore. I like my beer a bit more than most but even for myself, I've cut down my consumption a big deal in the name of health. With that being said, as someone who sometimes has sensory issues, the crowds were still lively and people were ever so excited to sample from Quebec's best breweries, so being able to actually walk around without feeling like being cramped like a sardine was really nice, especially with the beautiful Gare Windsor venue being as narrow as it is. 

In an upcoming edition of Manitoba Beer Cast, I'll be discussing beer festival season, the state of beer festivals, and my visit to Mondial. Two big pointers I'll be discussing on the podcast that I loved:
1: Mondial is still just a beer festival. A lot of beer festivals throughout Canada and North America have adjusted and become more of a seltzer/cooler festival with there being some beer options. 
2. As much as some people say that "if you drink non-alcoholic beer you may as well drink water instead", non-alcoholic beer is only becoming more popular and there were an abundance of choices of NA beers, with the majority being brewed right in Quebec - their NA scene is probably regarded as one of the best in the world.

What was my favourite beer of the festival? I sampled a lot of amazing treats over at Avant-Garde and probably whatever they had but the problem with going to the Avant-Garde booth is that Renaud and Shawn are always willing to chat so it was hard to remember what I had that day. It was to the point that I had to visit A-G's taproom after Mondial was over just so I could sit down, sample their beers and remember what I tried - highly recommend. While looking at the notes I did make, Les Trois Mousquetaires' Porter Baltique (Bourbon & Brandy Barrel Aged) and Dejeuner Imperial were absolutely well loved by yours truly.. but it's no surprise as their Porters and Stouts are liquid gold. 

Possibly the biggest thing for me - seeing Manitoban beer at Mondial. At the "Canadian Beer" tent they were serving three beers by Dauphin's own Obsolete Brewing. It was exactly a year ago when they made their first ever public debut at the Clear Lake Beer Festival in Riding Mountain National Park and their beer has quickly taken off, in fact - they may take the crown of being Western Manitoba's best brewery. While I went, Obsolete had three beers listed but only their Nintendo 64-themed Double IPA was actually in stock, it was nice to pay for a sample of local beer 3000km from home. Some amazing news: their Sour ended up winning a gold medal at the festival - a huge win for rural Canadian breweries, especially right here in Manitoba..

I hope we'll see more « hors Québec » breweries from all over Canada in future years - Quebec deserves to sample what the rest of the country can get, just like how Quebec breweries need to be anywhere beer geeks love good beer - Quebec still makes some of the best beer out of there.

All in all, it was great to be back in Montreal. It's likely that I'll be back in Montreal again next year but there's a few things I'd do differently next time: For sure drink more water! I was feeling a bit tired by the time I was heading back to my hotel, but with it being a perfect hot summery day.. always stay hydrated! Try to visit booths of breweries I've never tried before - I did try a good amount of breweries I've never had before but I could have put more effort into it. Lastly - eat! There's so many food trucks and food vendors on site serving items such as Bison on a stick to barbecue and poutine.. 

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