Any discussion of this topic starts with mentioning Molson Brewery, which issued its first sudsy drops in Montreal in 1786, thereby staking a claim as the continent’s oldest brewery. (Read more about Canada's beer history.) But Molson is now Molson Coors and gourmet attention is now focused on breweries that are much, much smaller. There are than 1600 microbreweries in the province of Québec, and many fine places to sample their wares in the city.
Plan Your Beer Trip to Montreal
Any serious beer aficionado will already know to check Beer Advocate’s beer guide to Montreal which will confirm what anyone well-versed in the international beer scene will advise you: when in Montreal, go to Brasserie Dieu du Ciel. There’s a long list of beer to choose from – some visitors have reported 21 beers on tap – and an oft-shifting selection. There are also snacks available, which you’ll need if you spend substantial time there. The hours are 3p.m. to 3 a.m.
Brasserie Dieu du Ciel is a bit of a hike from where most hotels are located. For those short on time, there’s L’Amere a Boire in the Latin Quarter. In Old Montreal, your brewpub is Les 3 Brasseurs de Montreal, which has other locations around the city as well. The Old Montreal location is at 105 Saint Paul East. That is not to be confused with another microbrewery called Brasseur de Montreal which is has a restaurant at 1485 rue Ottawa -- the historic, storied, and industrial Griffintown neighborhood. Brasseur de Montreal brews seven beers, including its Ghostown Stout, which is absinthe-based. The restaurant serves up local comfort food staples: duck leg,croque monsieur, shepherd’s pie.
Another way to get a quick overview of Montreal’s beer scene: take a beer tour. Well-respected operator Montreal Food Tours offers Microbreweries, Maxi Flavours!, a three-hour tour which hits three different microbreweries and some snacks, and costs $65 Canadian per person. Local Montreal offers The Montreal Brewpub Experience, a three-hour walking tour that visits three craft breweries in the Latin Quarter, The Plateau and St Louis Square, and promises tastes of at least seven different brews, plus snacks. It costs $55 Canadian per person.
Of course, it’s always fun to visit a great beer store. Palais de la Biere, at 151 Laurier West has what you might call a beer specialty – the store carries over 500 different types of beer, 400 from Quebec – including their own store’s brew. Nota bene: according to Tourisme Montreal, it’s fine to drink beer in a Montreal park as long as you have food with you. So grab a snack and hit the nearby park to sample your beer purchases --–Jeanne-Meance Park is lovely.
Finally, if you time your visit correctly, you could also attend an international beer festival. The Montreal Beer Festival, or Mondial de la Biere, is a major annual event, usually held in June, featuring more than 600 local and international brews.