Sunday, June 30, 2013

Three Great New Wines From Benmarl (NY)

Benmarl is the original farm winery, licensed no. 1 in New York State. Mark Miller, the owner and founder of Benmarl (along with Ben Feder of Clinton Vineyards and John Dyson, now owner of Millbrook) helped create the farm winery bill in New York state.
When I first tried Benmarl Baco Noir it was a revelation for me. Fantastic! But Benmarl, in recent years, has gone through a very healthy and big transition, moving forward to vinifera such as Cab Franc. And in their push forward they've begun to adapt the model of blending, which I personally think is so smart.
There's two blends here, I think worth mentioning. First is Slate Hill White 2010, which is a lovely, bright, zippy white. The previous vintage of this wine was Chardonnay (65%), Riesling (30%) and Traminette (5%). I am assuming the blend ratio isn't that much different this time around.
Green apple, Bosc pear, and tropical fruit come through. A nice dose of lemon on the back end. A dry crisp finish. Lovely!!!!

Now I am not much for medals, but the Benmarl Proprietor's Reseve 2010 won a gold medal at the 2013 Finger Lakes Wine Competition! That's beating the big boys in New York. I have to say, I tasted this wine in March and I was astounded. This is a blend of 82% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 3% Malbec. Big dark cherry and ripe raspberry front this wine, blackberry and cassis making notable appearances. Vanilla, spice, and the slightest hint of fallen leaves. A lovely, lovely wine. A fantastic blend. Easily becomes the big red in their line up and a fabulous new red wine in the Hudson Valley that will shine very bright outside the region as well! Fantastic!

Benmarl's Cab Franc (not to be confused with their estate cab franc) is a lovely, lovely wine. It's bright raspberry and hints of cherry, with hints of darker fruits. Beautiful violet notes on the nose come through as promised. Bright red fruits come across again on the palate with a lovely smooth finih. A lovely, long lasting feel of fruit and vanilla lingers. A beautiful wine.

I have long been a fan of Benmarl. And I am certainly a fan of Matt and Casey who run the winery! Great folks. But there's no question that these wines show a big turn the winery is making. The winery, under Matt has attempted to go much more toward a vinifera profile, and is producing much, much better wines. I liked their wines already, as I said, so this up-tick in quality and style is a which has been slowly coming on over the last three years, is now at a profound moment. Benmarl is making some wonderful wines!!!!! I mean, they can compete out of state in a big way. I'm talking Long Island, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania brawl here. I could not be happier for them or for such as old and established a place as Benmarl. 
Congrats to Matt and Casey! And congrats to the rest of us, who get to try this stuff!!!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Philadelphia Distilling - Craft Distilling in the City of Brotherly Love (PA)

So, I was on my way to visit some friends in suburban Philadelphia when I dipped into a liquor store to see of I could purchase some local wines to bring home with me. While I was searching around, I came upon a table with a man sampling spirits from a local small craft distiller Philadelphia Distilling. The gentle pouring was excellent in promoting the product! Friendly. Knowledgeable.

With the help of two business partners, Master Distiller Rob Cassell turned his passion for spirits into the first thriving craft distillery in Pennsylvania since Prohibition.

First, in 2006, the company introduced the world to Bluecoat Gin, an award-winning floral spirit made from certified-organic botanicals and distinguished by its smooth finish. Its signature blue-glass bottle has become a fixture on the bar scene and is widely used by savvy bartenders.

The 8,000 square-foot, Northeast Philadelphia-based distillery has since followed up that early success with Penn 1681 Rye Vodka, a spirit made with organic local rye, and Vieux Carre Absinthe Supérieure, the first absinthe to be legally distilled, bottled and sold in the East Coast of the United States in 100 years. An emphasis on local ingredients has resulted in high-quality, affordable products which are available online, at PA state stores and at discerning liquor stores around the country.

Custom made of pure, hand-hammered copper, our pot still is the only one of its design and size in the world. Batch distilling using a pot still is the traditional method of distilling. By taking advantage of modern technologies, Philadelphia Distilling has been able to marry those traditional methods with cutting-edge design. Craft distilled spirits are made one batch at a time using a pot still. Philadelphia Distilling insists that they use only premium ingredients, and that their small batch process allows the Master Distiller to impart his individual creativity to the production of the spirit. Needless to say, their goal is to make spirits of the highest level, one small batch at a time.
XXX Shine Whiskey bottle
Unaged and hard edged, XXX Shine is a classic white Whiskey: a blend of hand selected American corn is distilled three times (XXX) in a copper pot still. High proof, yet surprisingly smooth, this Whiskey rocks! Rob has tried his best to blend the traditions of the backwoods with the talent and sophistication of the city to forge a truly exceptional spirit. Clean and with a punch, this whiskey was great by itself, or as a mixer for cool cocktails. I tried only the oriinal. Now there are two new XXX’s: Shine LiberTea and Shine Salted Caramel (which already sounds like it would be among my favorites).
Bluecoat American Dry Gin is distilled using this small batch process. Rob’s unique procedure calls for an extremely slow heating of the pot. This 10 hour process allows him to utilize their custom still design to most efficiently separate the impure alcohols from those he desires to bottle as the finished product. Only the small portions of our distillate that meet our purity requirements while matching the desired botanical flavors are collected for bottling. The rest of the distillate is discarded as impure. What has been collected for bottling is then blended with triple filtered water to 47% alcohol by volume, or 94 proof, then run through a spirit filter and tasted.
One of the most distinguishing features of Bluecoat American Dry Gin is the botanicals that are used to provide its complex flavoring. Only certified organic botanicals are used. While the specific recipe for Bluecoat American Dry Gin is a closely guarded secret, the one thing Rob stresses is their Juniper berry.  As with all gins, botanical flavoring starts with the juniper berry. Bluecoat American Dry Gin uses an organic juniper berry, which gives it more earthy, spicy characteristics. This organic berry is more plump than a traditional London Dry Gin juniper berry, with slightly different flavor characteristics.
The resulting gin is extremely aromatic and absolutely delicious! I have tried a number of small craft gins of late, but this was instantly among my favorites. This was sitting in ice when I got there along with the vodka, but again, just wasn't as cold as I would personally like for a martini for example. But since I loved this too, I was thrilled to imagine what this might taste like with a whiff of vermouth and three olives. Fantastic! 

Penn 1681 Rye vodka is made by Pennsylvania Distilling and meant--by virtue of the year in which King Charles II granted William Penn the land to create the "Commonwealth of Pennsylvania"--to pay homage to the founding of the state of Pennsylvania. It is made with organic rye selected from local farms. In Penn 1681 Rye Vodka the column still removes rough and undesirable alcohols, resulting in a smooth spirit. This vodka is carefully guided all the way from local Pennsylvania rye grains through the artisan distilling process and into bottles made locally from partially recycled glass. I though it was incredibly smooth at only slightly below room temperature. Cold or on the rocks, I can't imagine how lovely this vodka would be. Very elegant and light!

I wasn't able to taste the final product, but I thought I would pass along their tasting notes:
The French Quarter, locally known as Vieux Carré, is the soul of New Orleans, Louisiana. This city is replete with culture, architectural beauty and culinary arts. Philadelphia Distilling pays tribute to the unique and colorful history of Absinthe in New Orleans with the release of Vieux Carré Absinthe Supérieure. The first batch of Vieux Carré was released on December 31, 2008. It is the first legal absinthe to be distilled, bottled and sold on the east coast of the United States in nearly 100 years.
This was among the biggest finds of that weekend! I love Philadelphia Distilling. I loved all three products I tried, and came away desperately wanting a martini with their exquisite gin. When I later told a friend of mine from Philadelphia how impressed I was he nodded at me with a smug look. What? I asked. "I've been drinking it for years," he said with some attitude. "It's an excellent gin." Lucky bastard!

Virginia Governor Unveil's '1813' Blend Commemorating State Mansion (VA)

June 27, 2013

Governor and First Lady McDonnell Unveil ‘1813’ Commemorative Bicentennial-Themed Wine
~Commonwealth Grape Growers, Winemakers Unite to Celebrate Nation’s Oldest Continually Occupied Governor’s Mansion, Promote Virginia’s Thriving Wine Industry~
Sales of Virginia Wines, Winery Tourism Reached Record Highs in 2012
RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell and First Lady Maureen McDonnell today unveiled ‘1813,’ Virginia’s historic bicentennial-themed blended red wine, at a reception at the Executive Mansion with members of the Virginia wine industry and others involved in promoting the 200th anniversary of the Executive Mansion. In addition to celebrating Virginia’s growing wine industry, the event commemorated the bicentennial of the country’s oldest continually occupied governor’s residence in the United States and paid tribute to Acte 12 of 1619, one of the nation’s earliest laws, which required settlers to plant and tend at least ten grapevines.  The wine, of which 1,813 bottles were produced but will not be sold, will be utilized by the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office to market and promote further the Virginia wine and wine tourism industries on statewide, national, and international fronts.

Commenting on ‘1813,’ which is believed to be the first-ever statewide blended red wine, Governor McDonnell stated, “At the beginning of my administration, I made the promotion of Virginia wine and wine tourism key components of my overall economic development and jobs creation agenda.  I also said that I wanted Virginia to be the East Coast capitol of wine and wine tourism.  Working with our partners in the Virginia wine industry, we’ve achieved success in both goals.  Sales of Virginia wines reached an all-time high last year and record numbers of tourists are visiting our beautiful wineries.  With the unveiling of ‘1813’ and the national and international marketing push behind it, I believe that we’ll attract even more visitors to our wineries and see sales continue to grow in 2013 and beyond.”

The genesis of ‘1813’ began in early 2011 when Mrs. McDonnell planted ten Chambourcin vines in the Executive Mansion garden as a way to promote the wine industry and its long history in Virginia, and to celebrate the upcoming 200th anniversary of the Executive Mansion in 2013.  To ensure that the Mansion grapes would produce quality fruit and the eventual ‘1813’ wine would represent the best Virginia has to offer, Mrs. McDonnell assembled a team of Virginia wine experts and supporters to assist with the project, including Barboursville Vineyard’s general manager and winemaker, Luca Paschina; nationally renowned viticulturist and vineyard consultant, Lucie Morton; King Family Vineyards’ winemaker, Matthieu Finot; Veritas Vineyard & Winery winemaker, Emily Pelton; and Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore. 

Mrs. McDonnell, Paschina, and Haymore harvested the fruit from the ten Chambourcin grapevines in August 2012 and then transported them to Barboursville Vineyards to be fermented for traditional, small-scale batch production.  The Executive Mansion vineyard’s fruit was combined with grapes from the wineries and vineyards of Virginia Wine Board members, including Barboursville Vineyards (Orange County), Breaux Vineyards (Loudoun County), Chatham Vineyards (Northampton County), James River Cellars Winery (Hanover County), King Family Vineyards (Albemarle County), Veritas Vineyard & Winery (Nelson County), Silver Creek & Seaman’s Orchards (Nelson County) and the Vineyard at Point Breeze (Accomack County).  Because Virginia Wine Board members are from different areas and American Viticulture Areas (AVA) of Virginia, the wine represents a broad geographic area of the state.  In addition, James Barbour was the first Governor of Virginia to live in the Executive Mansion. Barboursville Vineyards resides on the site of Governor Barbour’s home in Orange, Virginia.

“Virginia’s ‘1813’ brings together several important pieces of the Commonwealth’s history and the special history of the Executive Mansion,” said Mrs. McDonnell.  “In addition to celebrating our outstanding wine industry, it was a natural tie to bring together our Jamestown roots and Acte 12, the bicentennial anniversary of the Executive Mansion, and honor the first resident of the mansion, James Barbour, as well as Governor Barbour’s close friend and our third governor, Thomas Jefferson, who is widely credited as being the godfather of the Virginia wine industry from his attempts to grow grapes and make wine at Monticello in the late 1700s and early 1800s.”

            According to Paschina, who led the winemaking process with his industry colleagues, the composition of ‘1813’ is of the following wine and grapes, along with vintage year and supplying Virginia Wine Board member winery or vineyard:

Merlot 2010                Breaux Vineyards
Merlot 2010                Chatham Vineyards
Octagon 2010             Barboursville Vineyards
Merlot 2011                King Family Vineyards
Nebbiolo 2011            Barboursville Vineyards
Chambourcin 2012      James River Cellars Winery
Chambourcin 2012      Executive Mansion Vineyard
Petit Verdot 2012       Silver Creek & Seaman’s Orchards
Petit Verdot 2012       The Vineyard at Point Breeze
Petit Verdot 2012       Veritas Vineyard & Winery
Viognier 2012             Barboursville Vineyards

All 2012 wines were assembled and then aged for eight months in French oak barrels and then assembled with juice from 2010 and 2011.  All grapes from 2012 were fermented together.

            “It’s been an honor and pleasure to collaborate with my fellow Virginia winemakers and wine lovers on the ‘1813’ wine project,” said Paschina. “We are confident that the literal combined fruits of our labor resulted in a palate-pleasing and incredibly drinkable blend that the entire state of Virginia can proudly stand behind.”

Domestic and international promotion of the Virginia wine industry is one of Governor McDonnell's top economic development and jobs creation initiatives.  Since 2010, the McDonnell administration worked with the General Assembly to establish a reimbursable tax credit program for the establishment or expansion of vineyards and wineries and to almost triple the amount of funds placed in the Virginia Wine Promotion Fund for research, education, and marketing programs. Governor McDonnell also promotes the sale of Virginia wines in Virginia, around the country, and during foreign trade and marketing missions.

Sales of Virginia wine reached an all-time high in fiscal year 2012, increasing by just over 1.6% from fiscal year 2011.  Virginia wineries sold almost 485,000 cases of wine in FY12 versus a little more than 477,000, the previous record high, in FY11.  Sales of Virginia wines have averaged just over 8 percent growth per year over the last three fiscal years.  In addition, sales outside of Virginia, domestic and international, increased by 39% from FY11 to FY12.  Export sales of Virginia wines grew by more than 300%, increasing from about 700 cases in FY11 to more than 3,300 in FY12.  A significant portion of these international sales were driven by new sales to China and the United Kingdom, two areas where the McDonnell administration has focused its global marketing and export growth strategic plans.

Virginia currently ranks fifth in the number of wineries in the nation with more than 230.  Virginia is also the nation’s fifth largest wine grape producer.  According to a 2012 economic impact study, the Virginia wine industry employs more than 4,700 individuals and contributes almost $750 million to the Virginia economy on an annual basis. In addition, more than 1.6 million tourists visited Virginia wineries in 2011.

For more information on the Executive Mansion, please visit Executive Mansion website:  For more information on the Virginia wine industry, please visit the Virginia Wine Marketing Office website:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Vignobles Les Pervenches - A Jewel in Quebec Wine Country (CA)


So on Saturday morning, the first stop of Taste Camp 2013 quebec was the small but coveted Vignobles Les Pervenches in Farnham, Quebec. The ride wasn't too bad on the bus, and the company was entertaining. I didn;t know much about Les Prevenches before I got there. I had never heard of them. But several of the organizers talked about them in reverent tones, speaking about them with great respect. I shrugged, and thought, "We'll see." 

The vineyard at Les Prevenches was established in 1991 with the first vines white Seyval, followed in 1992 by plants chardonnay imported from France. Acquired by the present owners in spring 2000, the vineyard is now composed mainly of chardonnay, white Seyval, Marechal Foch, Frontenac and Zweigelt of over 3 hectares. The current owners follow the principles of organic and biodynamic since 2005.

The vineyard is located on a sandy soil with good natural drainage. North and west you find large maple woods that protect the vineyards from the great west wind while creating a very warm perfect microclimate for chardonnay. The slope is slightly to the south-east, which helps a sunny and cold air drainage during freezing nights. One can also enjoy a magnificent view of the start of the Appalachian Mountains (Sutton, Jay Peak, etc..).

The area worked has been fully Organic since 2005 and this is for the sake of respect for their natural resources, their garden, their children and their staff. This is a personal approach from the owners who wanted vinify grapes without the use of chemical inputs in order to give birth to living and natural wines. This allows Michael and Veronique to express the terroir and vintage influences. Their grapes are certified organic and handpicked. Their wines are fermented without foreign yeast. Depending on the vintage, they contain no or very little sulfites (SO2). If there SO2 added to the wine, it will only in very small quantities in the bottling.

Veronique Hupin and Michael Marler took on the mission to produce wines of great quality while using innovative and traditional methods in both the fields in the cellar. Michael Marler studied in Agriculture from McGill University with an exchange at the School of Agronomy in Purpan in the south of France, which arose his passion and knowledge for the vine and wine. Véronique Hupin, as passionate in the business, focused on the marketing and financial aspects in picking up an MBA from HEC Montreal.

These are hard working folks. As Michael explained their organic and biodynamic strategies, Veronique walked the vineyard, mounted the tractor, and started working. They grow a number of hybrids such as Seyval Blanc, Marechal Foch, and others, as well as vinifera like Chardonnay. Like other vintners, Michael and Veronique work the land hard. Some vines are cut back every year and covered over with dirt (known as hilling) since the winters are jut too harsh for those plants and they would suffer serious winter kill if not. These vines need to be unearthed once danger of frost is clear, so that the vines can flourish again for the season.

There is no question about their passion and conviction. Though you may or may not agree with Michael's assessments of organic or biodynamic theory, it is clear you will never win an argument. He's a skeptic himself, which makes his message more of the reasoned, educated agronomist, than the raging purist zealot! That said, he and Veronique are dedicated to making the wines in as pure a way as possible. And their winery is testament to that. it's unpretentious. Open. No frills.And it's packed to the absolute corners, which means they are topping out on production, yet they had little wine left from the previous season - that's a good sign!

Michael has the absolute focus and concentration of a mathematician, but the creative soul of a painter. His and Veronique's wine is a personal statement. In a region with as diverse a wine country as Quebec's, Les Prevenches' attention to small details in the winemaking make it a stand out. One gets the feeling they would be the darlings of any wine region they were in, be it Quebec, Ontario, the Finger Lakes, or where ever.

Veronique and Michael have turned Les Prevenches into one of the jewels of the Quebec wine country. Though a small production winery, nonetheless it's impressive as they are turning out great wine and smart about getting their message out. Their wines are highly sought after. This isn't just a local sensation. Les Prevenches has achieved recognition of its quality wines in some pretty prestigious newspapers and magazines.

Here's just a smattering of the very impressive reviews:

"Quebec's wine country ripen. Warning-getting bottles are emerging from the Eastern Townships, Where wines pair nicely with country pleasures ..." - Los Angeles Times

"White Seyval on the spot. When I love once.'s Popularity Seyval indeed sèamenuise with the discovery of new varieties ..." - Cellar

"Biodynamics, a living culture. Perceived as a marginal movement in the early to the years 1980, biodynamic viticulture took up the ranks, and nectars are now found on larger tables ..."
 - SEE Montreal

"In 1999, Véronique Hupin and her boyfriend Michael Marler go in Latin America to find a small vineyard ..." - Chatelaine

"We want to see a truly born our typical production regions, instead of surboiser, too extract land and sweeten to be fashionable ..." - enRoute

"Everybody still thinks the only thing Does Quebec ice cider is well, just like people still think Canadians only make ice wine ..." - The Globe and Mail

Seyval-Chardonnay 2012 was the first wine we tasted. It's a lovey, bright, citrusy white wine tinged with just enough Chardonnay to make it quite lovely! Green apples, apricot and pear all come through as promised. Aging in French oak barrels adds a slightly softer roundness to the wine and some spice. A dry, refreshing, lovely, lovely wine!

Solinou 2012 is a light-bodied red blend of Frontenac, Chardonnay, and Zweigelt. A unique blend of vinifera and hybrid grapes. It's works because the Frontenac and Zweigelt both add deep color, and the Chardonnay lends a nice classic vinifera polish to the entire blend. Light, lively, bright, with bright cherries and strawberries, very Beaujolais in its inspiration. Fantastic with light foods, cheeses, and fish or chicken! A great lunch wine for a Saturday or Sunday lunch. A terrific summer wine!

We tasted a barrel sample of the Cuvee De Montmollin 2012 made with Marechal Foch. This is a deeper wine than the Solinou. Darker fruit comes through with this wine, dominated by rich, ripe sour cherry and sour dark raspberry. Jam and plums come through as promised. Great acidity, so the fruit lasts a long time. But wonderful tannins, so the whole thing is never out of whack. And aged in French oak which gives it a roundness that makes the whole enterprise so delicious!

We tasted the Chardonnay 2012 from the barrel. 100% Chardonnay. According to Michael and Veronique, the wine was vinified in barrels in the Burgundian traditions, aging on lees during the winter. A big, round, sensual wine but with the classic Quebec acidity which I like so much. Apples, as well as pears, honey and anise come through as promised. Lovely, elegant, with a lovely long lasting flavor. Excellent!

This is a fascinating small winery dedicated to putting out as pure a wine as possible. You have to absolutely admire their stamina and their fortitutde...and their success!!! The wines are terrific! and theo owners are thoughtful and are making wines with a purpose. And that not only deserves our respect and admiration. It also deserves our applause....and our desire to drink them!


Depatures magazine Raves About RdV Vineyards (VA)

RdV Vineyards in Dalaplane, Virginia is among the most highly respected wineries on the east coast. They were featured in Richard Leahy's BEYOND JEFFERSON'S VINES! Now in the July/August 2013 issue of DEPATURES magazine, they've been featured in a lavish three page article!Congrats to Ruger de Vink and the rest of the staff at RdV Vineyards! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Speed Dating the Craft Brews of Quebec (CA)

So, on the first night of Taste Camp 2013 in Quebec, we went to a beer tasting in Montreal. 30-40 spirits writers and bloggers were brought to a restaurant to taste the multiple offerings of 8 breweries. I was reminded very much so of a speed dating scenario. The event was only 2 1/2 hours. That's a lot of beer to taste in a short period. But I wanted to say I was up to the challenge.

I want to say that I am not a beer expert, and that my observations are not worth as much as a professional beer writer or amateur enthusiast. But I thought it was only right to add my notes for those looking for guidance and want to take my experiences for face value. I am not a novice to beer, and I actually know more than the average man. On the otherhand, I am not anywhere close to such experts as Stephen Beaumont or Joshua M. Bernstein, two of the best beer writers reporting today. 

That said, many of these beers are not available in the US...some are. If I can shed a little light on the Quebec beer scene for the uninitiated, I am happy to do so.

I did not know a lot about the Quebec beer scene going in, so I found some quick information from Wikipedia.

From Wikipedia: Quebec beer is the beer brewed in Quebec, Canada, often with ingredients from Quebec itself and generally following the recipes of the French, Belgian and British brewing traditions. Generally, the beers brewed in Quebec differ from those in the rest of North America because of the relative importance of the French and Belgian traditions alongside that of Great Britain. German-type beers are also brewed, but the production is not very important compared to the others.

The history of beer in Quebec goes all the way back to the early days of French colonization. Industrial production truly begins in the 19th century under British rule. A microbrewery industry appeared in the 1980s, with small productions to be found all over the province today.
New France: In the 17th and 18th century, the colonists of Quebec made an alcoholic beverage which was characteristic of the region for a long period of time: spruce beer. Although spruce beer today generally refers to a soft drink of the same name, it was in fact an actual beer in which spruce replaced hops. Sometimes roots or other "spices" were used. This gave root beer.
According to historian Benjamin Sulte, the first colonists of Quebec were from the regions of France where beer and cider are more important produces than wine is. They would have brought the bouillon, an alcoholic beverage from Picardie and Haute-Normandie. Pierre Boucher, Governor of Trois-Rivières, was questioned regarding the colony during a trip to France. He reported: "Wine is served to rich families, beer is left to those who are less wealthy while others are contented by a beverage called the bouillon. The poorer ones drink only water which is of excellent quality."[1]
The Relations des Jésuites for 1646 mention that brother Ambroise prepared beer for the inhabitants. A marriage contract dated October 22, 1650 mentions the existence of a brewery in Montréal. It is written that the Governor of Montreal Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve offered "a land adjacent to the property of the brewery" to the newly wed.
In 1690, the Sieur de Longueuil built a brewery on his lands. It was in ruin by 1735. From 1704 to 1744, the Charron brothers, founders of the Hôpital général de Montréal, added a brewery to their building. In all cases, the distribution remained localized.
The first recorded commercial brewery was that founded by Intendant Jean Talon in 1671. Located in Québec City, it produced up to 4,000 barrels of beer a year. The beer was entirely made with Quebec products and half the volume was exported to the Caribbean and Europe. It was however short-lived.
Industrialization: The first large industrial-scale breweries were founded by Englishmen like John Molson in 1786. O'Keefe, from Toronto, Ontario, established itself in Montreal by the purchase of some 20 breweries including Molson's main competitors in Quebec, Dawes and Dow. Labatt, founded in London, Ontario in 1847, established itself in LaSalle, Quebec in 1952. However, its main beers had been available in Montreal since 1878 through a distribution agency. Molson and O'Keefe merged in 1989. In 1995, Labatt was purchased by Belgian Interbrew (today InBev). Molson merged with Coors in 2005.
Renaissance: During the 1960s all the way to the early 1980s, there were but three breweries, Molson, Labatt and Carling-O'Keefe, together monopolizing the market. In 1982, Brasserie Massawippi located in North Hatley produced the first craft beer meant for commercial distribution. La Massawippi, a 5% ale, brewed according to the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516 is no longer bottled, but can still be tried in a bar in North Hatley. In the mid 1980s, the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux started issuing new permits authorizing commercial establishments to brew their own beer and sell it on site. This started the phenomenon of brewpubs in Quebec, shortly after British Columbia.

On July 1, 1986, the Golden Lion Brewing Company served its first pint of beer at the Golden Lion Pub in Lennoxville. One of the first pubs to serve its own beer was Le Cheval Blanc on Ontario Street in Montreal, founded in 1986. Microbreweries started appearing all over Quebec in the late 1980s: McAuslan, Les Brasseurs du Nord, Brasseurs de l'Anse, Schoune and Seigneuriale. One of the most successful microbreweries, Unibroue, was founded in 1990. It has since been acquired by Ontarian Sleeman, which itself was merged with Sapporo in 2006.
Other breweries and microbreweries have also arisen since then, such as Les Brasseurs RJ, La Barberie, Le Maître Brasseur (Laval), Hopfenstark (L'Assomption), La Gueule de bois (Saguenay), Brasseur et Frères, Brasserie du Ham, À la fût (Brewpub in St-Tite), Le trou du Diable (Brewpub in Shawinigan), and Belgh'Brasse. In March 2008, Quebec had some 59 active breweries producing some 402 different beers.
Brasseurs De Montreal was one of the brewers there. Brasseur de Montréal (BdM) opened its doors on March 7, 2008, in the historic Montréal neighbourhood of Griffintown, located at 1483, Ottawa Street, just east of Guy. BdM is the brainchild of Marc-André Gauvreau and Denise Mérineau, who pooled their expertise to found one of the most prominent industrial microbreweries in the Greater Montréal Area. Only steps from the downtown area, the Bell Centre and the Champlain and Victoria bridges, BdM is able to serve clients throughout Quebec thanks to its various distribution networks. BdM makes 7 beers that are offered year-round as well as a number of specialty seasonal beers. All are served in BdM’s excellent resto-bar adjacent to the brewing facilities, where clients can watch the beer-making process while enjoying a delicious home-style meal.
A bright yellow beer featuring chi and ginger. Also interesting.
I liked the Ghost Town Stout. A big chocolately stout that's very dry. Interesting.

Brasserie Dunham born March 7, 2010, when the brewery Brewers & Brothers , located in Dunham in the Eastern Townships, was bought by three actors in the scene Quebec beer or Sébastien Gagnon, Hugues Dumontier and Jocelyn Bérubé. Recently, Hughes and Jocelyn decided to leave the team to go to other challenges. Since Dumontier and Bérubé have left the company. It is July 2012 that Mr. Eloi Deit joined Brasserie Dunham as Master brewer. He now holds the position of production manager. Their portfolio reflects their undisputed Houlon love, love that they believe is shared by many fans in Quebec and around the world. Thus, the beers offered by their range of products are all more or less focused on the exploration of this versatile plant.

Leo's Early Breakfast by Brasseries Dunham is an IPA made with Earl Grey Tea. Great big hoppy nose, with lots of floral characteristics. Great fruit comes through too! I was suspicious of this beer, but it was one of my favorites of the night.

This is the Pale Ale American. This is a classic yellow-golden Pale Ale with some grapefruitiness. Some orange also comes through. A very good drinking beer. Lovely!

A l'abri de la Tempete Microbrasserie translates to 'shelter from the storm.' Located on the Magdalen Islands , in L'Etang-du-Nord in a former fish processing plant, the microbrewery Shelter from the Storm enjoys a prime location on the seafront, with breathtaking views on the dune in the West. Before going to relax on the beach or after a busy sand and saltwater day, take a refreshing break in our tasting room.

Shelter from the Storm promotes the use of local raw materials in the design of its beers. Having started with the transformation of barley malt, it continues its momentum with the harvest of flowers, seaweed and fresh herbs. The use of local resources is a guarantee of authenticity and freshness that contributes to the sleek design and unique beers.

Belle Saison Biere Des Iles is a lager with rich floral accents. Its steeped with wild herbs gathered on the archipelago. Big citrus flavors. Nice amount of bitterness. I liked this alot.

I have to say, among many of the writers, Glutenberg was one of the most popular and successful discoveries of the night. A huge surprise. Many of us have had some bad gluten-free brewing attempts. But Glutenberg had brought the whole enterprise to a creative new level. BSG was founded on the collaboration between long-time friends, Julien Niquet and David Cayer. Julien, a born entrepreneur, always wanted to have his own company. Were it not for his gluten intolerance, it is unlikely BSG would have ever been launched. David, on the other hand, never really dreamt of being an entrepreneur, until he stepped in!

The idea of brewing gluten-free beer was first discussed at the beginning of winter 2011. Thanks to the support of friends and relatives, they were able to raise the funds required to buy the equipment and recruited the right brewer, Gabriel Charbonneau, who saw their ad on Facebook!

More than a year and a half later, after dozens of tests, they finally produced a perfect gluten-free beer. A golden blonde, dry, perfectly hoppy, with notes of lemon peel, but most important of all, a gluten-free beer that tasted like real beer! This was unheard of, in a market that had existed for ten years. The Glutenberg Blonde was thus born.

Glutenberg's popularity was instantaneous in Quebec, right from the beginning of the brewery's operations in July of 2011. The launch of the Glutenberg Red and the Glutenberg American Pale Ale in December of 2011 largely contributed to its fast-growing success. May 2012 marked a major milestone in the history of the young company, when BSG made it big at an event held in San Diego, United States. The brewery won the gold, silver and bronze awards in the “Gluten-free beer category” at the World Beer Cup. A first in the history of the brewing industry’s most important competition in the world.

The Blonde, the American Pale, and the Red beers were all very drinkable and quaffable. They tasted like honest to goodness version of their original styles. These were beers you would be happy to serve or be served. Truly admirable. These are now available in cans in the US! You should chase these down. But don;t trust my word for it, Stephen Beaumont thinks these guys are doing it right. His opinion is much more important than mine.

Glutenberg, Imperial Sotolon

Beer blogger Cassandra C. wrote, "I do not know if you've heard of sotolon or research François Chartier published in the book Taste Buds and Molecules ? In summary, the sotolon is aromatic molecule that is found in many ingredients like curry, maple, nuts, coffee, celery salt, etc.. This is reflected in this beer. This beer is produced in association with water Aubier (a sap water produced in Quebec). In addition to water, other unusual ingredients such as quinoa, millet, buckwheat and brown rum. This is surely all these differences make such a unique beer."

Hugely aromatic beer. It's a yellow-golden blonde color. But it has huge aromas of coffee, caramel, and maple syrup. With its 8.5%! This is a huge, huge beer! It's a blonde Imperial Stout! Amazing. One of the best beers of the night!!!

Glutenberg Belge de Sasion 2013 was another fantastic find! This was a slightly hazy, light yellow ale with a nice head and good lace. An incredibly spicy nose with lots of orange and grapefruit. A hint of pepper too. Lemon difintely comes through on finish. A very nice session beer. I liked this alot too! Another one of my favorites!

Isaac (pictured here) and Andrew have always wanted to build a unique craft brewery worthy of the major European institutions such Chimay, Bass, Pilsner Urquell, and Fisher. This place is called Le Trou du Diable, making reference to a geographical formation called "pot" located in Shawinigan Falls. This name comes from the folk belief that bottomless hole leads straight to hell. A meeting brought Franck Chaumanet on board to complement the project. Unfortunately, these three stooges took too long to secure funding, lost the building which they chose. The project was put on hold for a year ...

In fall 2003, the arrival of two other promoters, Luc Bellerive and Dany Payette, each with knowledge of the environment and the latest trends, instilled all the necessary power and total confidence in the project. It was then decided to install a more elaborate brewpub kitchen. After many, many delays, by June 2005, the funding was secured and the building found and construction begun.

There is no question this was one of the favorite brewers of the night.

From the brewer: Six months of aging in oak barrels botrytis Californian white wine gives the beer a complex nose that looks like a flower honey, vanilla, apricot and leather with the addition of wild yeasts. Mouth wide and generous, humming tunes bittersweet background fishing and American hops. This was a fantastic sweet and tart wild yeast session beer. Loved it!
From the Brewer: This exceptional beer, fermented with three different yeasts, aged four months in American oak having hosted the apple brandy of cider Michel Jodoin. It has a vanilla side, spicy, roasted and animal. There is mixed with hot alcohol smell burnt caramel, peach, apricot and fresh tobacco. I loved this Blonde Triple Abbey!
From the brewer: The IPA is a bretteuse aged 18 months in barrels of Syrah California flooded with Brettanomyces. The result is a beer with orange accents disorder whose nose evokes rose water, grapefruit, vanilla and leather. On the palate, acidity and bitterness engage in long bridal waltz, true marriage of flavors just waiting to be consumed. Not usually being a fan of Brett, I have to admitt this was good.

From the time it opened its brewpub on Laurier avenue in Montreal, Dieu du Ciel has been aiming to brew the best beers possible, without compromise. Their aim is to brew unique, intense beers. They want to be  original and satisfying, yet always remaining creative by constantly experimenting with new recipes. Two of their beers were very cool!

From the brewer: Hibiscus flower Wit "Bottle conditioned" Rosée d’Hibiscus is a soft spoken wheat beer. The rose colour comes from the hibiscus flowers added during the brewing process. The aromas and flavour of this tropical flower are very prominent in the beer, giving it a slight acidity and a very agreeable fragrance. This was a huge hit, especially with many of the lady bloggers...but it won high mark from everyone! The Rosée d'hibiscus was born in their Montreal brewpub in May 2006.

From the brewer: The Peppercorn rye beer Routes des épices (French for "Spice Route") is a rye beer brewed with both black and green peppercorns. Initially, the beer reveals flavours of fresh grain and malt, which give it notes of chocolate, caramel, and fruit. The pepper flavour and aroma is fully revealed in the finish, which leaves a pleasant, spicy, tingling sensation on the tongue. Absolutely fantastic! So unique! Loved it! The Route des épices was born in their Montreal brewpub in May 2002.

Microbrasserie 'Le Castor' Brewing Company is an organic brewery in Riguad, Quebec. After years of home-brewing, the partners launched an organic microbrewery, in Rigaud, Quebec. They wanted to share their passion for locally made, high quality beer with their community! Their products have been available since June 2012. 

A very solid Blonde Pale Ale. A light yellow ale with nice Pilsner like quality when drinking. A good, quaffable beer. Nice hoppiness. Good cereal notes.

A traditional IPA hopped with Yakima hops, with a very, very nice big floral nose. This is one of their most popular beers and you can easilly see and taste why. A very nice drinking beer!

This was a huge bomb of a beer, and was easilly one of my favorites of the night! A Scotch Ale aged in Bourbon barrels. It was a dream come tru for those who like the whole barrel aging thing with beer. A big, translucent light brown/coppery brew with a creamy, taupe head. Butterscotch, toffee, maple syrup, some sweet fruitiness, and a big dollop of bourbon. I loved this beer! Did I say that? Fantastic!
It was an incredibly eye opening night!!! Fantastic! I had no idea what to expect going in. Fantastic stuff! Of course, both Josh and Stephen have mentioned manyn of these beers in their current books and their upcoming books, but for the moderately aware, this was an eye-opening expereince. Wonderful time! I want to go back to Monteal and drink again!