A few blocks west of St. Lawrence River on Ontario Rue, a lonely black sign with white lettering illuminates uncompromising LE CHEVAL BLANC, a tiny, elongated lounge packed to the rim with young sophisticates this frigid April ’05 eve. Its green marble walls and terrazo floors offer parlor-styled decor. Ceiling fans and a fluorescent clock adorn thinly lit café.

Thick wood-blocked sampler trays contained eye-opening lemongrass-spiced floral-hopped leather-skinned Blonde and tangy grapefruit-fronted coriander-spiced, vanilla-banana sugared, curacao orange-tinged Blanche for mild starters. Barley-toasted dark-fruited fig-dried Ambree, polite fruit-spiced Saison, and malt-fruited lemon-peeled alcohol-licked India Pale Ale were fine medium-bodied fare.

Better still were buttery rum-soaked, orange-bruised, banana-mango-kiwi-centered, tangerine-peach-backed Triple, tart orange-apricot-fronted, white grape-soured, cherry-tannic Cassis Belgian Blonde, and creamy black coffee-espresso-centered, wood-burnt, walnut-dabbed stout, Noire.



Dieu du Ciel!: A Bar in Montréal, QC - Thrillist

On the corner of Laurier lies terrific café-styled brewpub, DIEU DU CIEL!  Friendly diminutive saloon, visited April ’05, had a well-selected beer bottle collection displayed across the bar area, appeasing connoisseurs of all stripes. Wood stools and tables line the smallish interior with stainless steel brew tanks situated by the front window and bagels, cheese, tortillas, nachos, and pan pizza filling out the terse menu.

Best brew may have been excellent Corne Du Diable American IPA, a deeply embittered red-orange-fruited dry-hopped quencher with currant tinge belying herb-roasted peppery-floral nuance. Also enticing: buttery orange-bruised peach-syrupy grapefruit-embittered Abbey-styled Rigor Mortis Blonde; raw-honeyed red-fruited wheat-biscuit-y hop-dried Fumisterie Rousse; and lemon meringue-dried orange-peeled bubble-gummy Blanche Du Paradis.

Dry-honeyed low-carb wheat-sweet sedation McAuslan Cream Ale, gentle coffee-dried black cherry-sniped McAuslan Stout A L’Avoine, sullen yellow-fruited wheat-dried Paienne Blonde Ale, and softly carbolic resin-hopped citrus-finishing cask-conditioned Vaisseau Des Songes IPA ain’t bad either.




Fascinating midtown pub, BRUTOPIA, with its ancient ornamental exterior brackets and live nightly entertainment, boasted English-styled libations on Crescent Rue. Right next to Irish pub, Hurley’s (great draught selection: Murphy’s, Guinness, Harp, Bass, Kilkennys as well as local Canadian faves), this busy bistro served quality food and draughts to my family one brisk April ’05 afternoon.

Open since 1996, Brutopia’s busy brick-walled wood-floored bar features front porch and upstairs lounge (with hidden rear-situated brew tanks). Its rustic appearance afforded a dank inner city appeal and the middling hummus, sausage, and quesidillas went down fine alongside excellent handcrafted beer.

Nut-grained clover-honeyed wildflower-bloomed Honey Beer; lilting cereal-grained honey-glazed yellow-orange-fruited Maple Rousse; sour yellow-fruited rye-dried Golden Wheat; soft-watered wheat-grained grape-vinous Scotch Ale; and mild walnut-imbued cocoa-sugared Nut Brown Ale were decent preliminaries for more interesting fare.

Woody Centennial-Chinook-hopped, grapefruit rind-embittered, lemon-zesty IPA and berry-kiwi-blanched rye-pumpernickel-soured Brutopia Extra Blonde should please bitterer swiggers. Lively raspberry-wheat-fronted, passion fruit-aided, cereal-malted honey-dried Brutopia Raspberry Blonde will appease fruit ale lovers.




Just off St. Laurent on Duluth, small smoke-filled 100-capacity brick-exterior brewpub, RESERVOIR, gets busy with 5 o’clock crowd. Visited April ’05, main bar area included open backside ovens offering calamari, fromage, salads, and oysters, plus table seating near front window. Brew tanks, an extra bar, and more seating are available upstairs.

On tap were three easy plowing beers and four more exquisite choices. Soft-fizzed lemon-candied grapefruit-soured Blonde, delicately buttered floral-perfumed lemon-orange-faded hefeweizen-styled Ambree De Ble, and soapy light-spiced stone-fruited lemongrass-hinted Blanche suited light-bodied drinkers.

More engaging fare included terrific Belgian-styled raisin-prune-soured cherry-sweet banana-bruised fig-juiced Triple, piney malt-smoked hop-charred Bitter and lactic coffee-roasted hazelnut-toasted soft-tongued stout-styled Noire. Mild hop-spiced, lemony grapefruit-embittered, peach-pitted Pale Ale was both light-bodied and distinguished.



                                          SERGENT RECRUTEUR                                          MONTREAL, CANADA

On St. Laurent, the former ‘new’ location for SERGENT RECRUTEUR, brick-walled left side dining area and a cozy back bar with stainless steel brew tanks infiltrated this soon-to-be highbrow pub. Unfortunately, as of April ’05, a brewpub license hadn’t been granted. Yet the selection of tapped brews took pride offering fine Canadian line of Le Cheval Blanc, Mc Auslan’s St. Ambroise Rousse and Griffon Blonde, plus Belgian staple Liefman Framboise and Denmark’s Tuborg Blonde. By 2007, the brewpub had closed.



Since 2002, St. Denis corner pub, LES 3 BRASSEURS, has served brewer Louis Philippe’s likable assortment. The busily crowded cement-floored joint with cordial right side bar, upstairs terrace, and interior balcony served sandwiches, wraps, and pizza plus cappuccino and espresso drinks on April ’05 stopover.

Though Wheat and Brown Ales were out, sampled laid-back lemony grapefruit-fronted, perfume-spiced, wheat-husked Blonde, honey-malted hop-toasted pepper-snipped L’Ambree, and sinewy lemon-hopped, banana-dried, orange rind-embittered, coriander-spiced La Blanche (the most expressive choice this rainy springtime day).



L'amère à boire - Le Quartier Latin

I’m convinced the best place to buy Canadian brews as of February ’04 is tiny grocery store, De Panneur Laurier, at 1420 Laurier off Papineau Boulevard. Bought Belle Gueule, Bieropholie, Boreale, Breughel, Du Lievre, La Barberie, Les Brasseurs RJ, Le Cheval Blanc, Nouvelle, Schoune, Saint Antoine Abbe, and Saint Arnould brews at marvelous oasis. Walked to nearby Rahman’s to get more previously unfound brews.

On April ’05 brewpub excursion, stayed at midtown hotel near respected Mc Gill University for three nights. I managed to quaff two local independent brews on tap at refined first floor bar: mild lemony-whiffed prickly-hopped grapefruit-soured wheat-dried Old Montreal Blonde and barley roasted sweet tea-like Old Montreal Red Ale.

L’AMERE A BOIRE, in arty St. Denis section, offered burgers and quesadillas alongside brewer Greg Rossel’s fine beers. High ceilings, a small back loft, oak stools and tables, sundry hanging plants, and rear brew tanks inundate the interior with six seats consuming the small right side bar.

Wheat-soft banana-bubblegummy coriander-cloved Blanche, mild lemon rind-softened spice-nipped Danoise, peppery-hopped honey-lagered Munich-styled Montreal Hell, lemony white-peppered currant-embittered Cerna Hora, and floral citric pale ale Amere A Boire proved light and effervescent.

Malt-sugared orange-bruised grapefruit-surged Fin De Siecle (Red Ale), chocolate-malted cherry-ripened Cognac-warmed Boucanier Porter, raisin-greened cherry-tart dessert-like Maibock, mocha-chalked cappuccino-milked Kozak Dark Lager, and mellow vanilla-chocolate-centered, crème de cocoa-like Stout Imperial suited connoisseurs.