By Marc Demeule
On the last Saturday, I had the privilege of attending the most decadent and epicurean beer event held in our province of Québec. The Winter Warmer has been created to take a break from our rough winter climate and to provide beers lovers with a perfect occasion to taste, incredible, extreme, and uniques one-of-a-kind beers. The original mission of the founders (Broue Pub Brouhaha, Bières et plaisirs and Les Coureurs des Doires ) has been perfectly respected for this third edition of L’Hivernale ed Brasseurs.
Held on 3 days, from 15:00 pm to 1:00 am, a daily ticket allowed you to choose from 36 different beers. The service, provided by a team of professional beertenders, was very efficient and we didn’t have to wait for long before being served. The beer selection was split into three separate bars with specific beer menus: caramelized, hoppy or spiced, roasted.
We made our way among the 400 privileged attendees inside a crowded Théâtre Plaza. Armed with the 4-ounce official festival glass and a bottle of water, we had 10 hours to taste anything we desired as long as we were thirsty. This event didn’t include any limitations and supplied enough beer so that the majority of the products still remained available as long as we could elaborate new theories to create a parallel universe or a project that will never exist. A total epicurean experience.
Through this unique selection of taps, bottles and casks, here is a look at some great creations:
La Succursale: Specialni Tmavé, Czech Baltic porter, 7%ABV A good malt wall in the mouth, just enough of that alcohol feeling. Sweet.
Le Trou du Diable & Dieu du Ciel!: Le Purgatoire, Archéoporter. Having a collaboration of hell and heaven provided something excellent, aged in red wine barrels invaded with Brettanomyces. Two words to describe it: Another please.
Microbrasserie du Lac St-Jean: Houblon Libre. Following a fermentation in oak barrels, this ipa has a great hop punch. Only hope that it will be bottled one day.
Le Bénélux: Motek. Imperial Belgian-style India pale lager, with Brett, oak barrel aged. Okay, it could only be called a “creative beer.” It reminded me of a pils with a touch of Brett and wood, elgantly twisted by experimented brewers. It also reminded me that their terrace will open in couple months. I like to offer my liver to science, especially when this science comes within a pint.
For such a long day of epicurean experience, food is necessary to assure the comfort of all participants. The Winter Warmer provided plates of fine cheeses, bread, terrines, sausages and rillettes that were constantly renewed after a legion hungry vultures had discovered the feeding spots. I took the grocery list from Phillipe Wouters of Bières et Plaisirs the Chef behind the food task team. Feeding these beer lovers for three long days took:
200 lbs of cheeses, 130 lbs of terrines and rillettes, 130 lbs of sausages
2000 duck wings, 2000 ribs, 2000 Pulled Pork burger, meaning 200 lbs of pork
65 lbs of chorizo, 65 lbs of smoked salmon, 100 lbs of beef tartare
2400 chocolate parlines, 2000 homemade desserts
Wouters and his team created a menu which includes beer on every recipe (evidently). I have to confess that I did decimate a flock of ducks and helped myself quite often when the salmon tartare plates came to my tentacular area. 30,775 greedy mouthfuls were served during those three days, which means an average of 25 per head. Put simply, it was a mountain of great food. Personally, I had the feeling of being force-fed, but at my own request. I would also like to make a special mention to the courageous people who carried all this food though the pit of hungry seagulls. Plates were emptied within a minute.
To conclude the experience, two live bands and a DJ delivers respectively a mix of folk, blues, folk-rock, swing, funk and worldbeat that created a festive atmosphere. Are you interested in taking part in the next edition of this unique event? Watch for the tickets to go on sale at www.winterwarmermontreal.com. And the only advise I shall provide you with is that it shouldn’t be your turn to be the designated driver.