Ireland touts its stouts, America stakes its claim to “hopped up” IPAs, but it’s all about bire blanche in Quebec. Also known as white ale or, in its Belgian birthplace, witbier, this pale golden, unfiltered brew served as the standard refresher in La Belle Province long before current converts started splashing an orange slice into their vessels. Montréal offers Canada’s best array of this citrusy wheat beer – no surprise given the city’s long-standing Franco-Anglo cultural fermentation. Take a look at our guide to the best bire blanche in Montréal, for some seriously good sipping.
A tasting trip here is always going to feature more sustenance than olives and beer nuts. You’ll sample local staples such as smoked meats and provincial cheeses, artisan chocolates and, mais oui, poutine, when you book a tour with Montreal Craft Beer Tours. The tour features two tastings at each of the three breweries.
Expect cosmopolitan cache at the local pubs. The top rated Isle de Garde brasserie specializes in tantalizing plates of Frites Maison (with truffle mayonnaise), Jerky de Boeuf and Rillette de Porc Maison to complement the Blanche de Session au Citron from Victoriaville’s L’Hermite Microbrasserie. Montréal publicans take ambience seriously, as indicated by three temperature divisions among the eighteen taps.
Gentlemen and women who prefer blondes should definitely step across the grate into Le Dieu du Ciel microbrewery in the ever-trendy Le Plateau district. The brewers here offer the flirty Rosée d’hibiscus, the free-loving pale ale, Paienne (“˜pagan’), and the fatalistic IPA, Derniére Volonté (“˜free will’), leading, no doubt, to the optimistic Blanche du Paradis (“˜Paradise White’). The brewery also specializes in soberly named stouts. Rigor Mortis, anyone?
Bohemian Le Plateau also teems with tasting rooms. Most feature a sidewalk terrace, colourful characters and a tousled menu of regionally produced bire blanche. The appropriately named Le Cheval Blanc has been serving bire blanche since 1987, and today features rotating gallery exhibitions, live music on most weekends, and an ambience that perfectly melds together the neighbourhood’s East London meets Paris vibe.
Montréal’s refined reputation often suggests more sauvignon blanc than bire blanche, but the city’s true gritty nature is best quenched with a crisp, citrus-infused white ale.
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Have you tried bire blanche in Montréal? Where are your favourite places to drink beer in the city? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Crai Bower