Sunday 16 February 2014

Brewpub Series: Vices & Versa, 10th Anniversary!

So it has been a week since Vices & Versa's 10th anniversary celebration. Since then I have been thinking about the current state of the microbrew scene in Montreal. This period can be likened to a "Golden Age" of beer, where collaboration, innovation, and conviviality are the pillars of the craft world and they pervade all facets. We are happy to be part of this network with our blog, however small. Joining in on the discussion, and just taking the time to participate in the world of beer is a wonderful experience. And Vices & Versa has played a big part in my beer experience and definitely the beer scene in Montreal, so being able to attend their 10th anniversary was special.  

You might be wondering what got me thinking about all this. Well, I took a look back to when we first starting going to Vices & Versa, about seven years ago, and they did not have the beers on tap they have today, the quality was good - but not like today's. In this "Golden Age" of brewing the once small Quebec breweries are flourishing, which has allowed them to expand both the size of their breweries and their beer portfolios. They have increased production capacity, so they can focus small batches on experimental brews: barrel aging; assemblages; different yeasts, e.g. wild, brett, pedio, lacto, etc.; additions of all sorts of exotic fruits; using new hop varieties; casked beers; beer without gluten; organic beer; and it goes on - you name it they are doing it. The artisanal/craft beer brewing industry has taken off.

Today we have new brewpubs and bars serving beer from all over Quebec. Brewpubs offer Tap-Takovers to introduce beer lovers to far away and often small capacity breweries. Breweries like Dieu du Ciel, Trou du Diable, Dunham, Le Castor, Les Trois Mousquetaires, and others, have caught the attention of international beer lovers, and some are considered amongst the best in the world. We have Quebec breweries collaborating with world-class brewers and breweries, e.g. The Alchemist with Dieu du Ciel, Hill Farmstead with Dunham, Kissmeyer with Dunham. Everyone is working with everyone else to build networks that foster competitive creativity, but minus the animosity and plus the amity. Anyways, there is too much going on to properly capture within this post, but this is all just to say that having the difficult problem of choosing which experimental collaborative brews to drink, off of a menu with over 50 mouth-watering brews, is a righteous problem worth some reflection, indeed. 


And I cannot fail to mention that which we focus on so much on this blog, the specialty beer shops! Before they sprung out of what seems like thin air, there were mostly depanneurs selling some microbrewed beer here and there. Now, there are over a dozen stores in Montreal alone that focus on selling the finest microbrews Quebec has to offer. The effect that the local/craft shift has had on the brewing industry in Quebec has been positive, and down right explosive. There are more jobs being created everyday in the microbrewing industry than in the macrobrewing, yet the macro's still control the majority share of the market... However, you, me, and everyone else buying craft beer are creating a shift in power, and hopefully one day the big guys will not be so big anymore. 

Now, onto the final topic of my rant. Doing this, i.e. beer blogging, has allowed us to meet really cool people, mostly fellow bloggers. We have had the opportunity to discuss beer and much more, share insights over beer, and make new friends. Here is to more of that, Cheers! 


Everything I wrote about above is what Vices & Versa's 10th was all about. The party was not only to celebrate their existence over a ten year span, but also to celebrate all the microbreweries that have cocreated the brewing industry in Quebec as we know it today, for the collaborations and innovations. And, especially for all the beer lovers that have supported the whole industry throughout the years. This was Vices & Versa's way of giving back, and did they ever! 

Before walking in I expected the worst, we were late, so I new we would have to wait in line. But, we were lucky enough that T.J (Beerism) had two extra seats to spare. I got in line knowing that the first beers I was going to try had to be Hill Farmstead. During my wait in line I was greeted by none other than David Atman, from the (in)famous La Decapsule des Freres Atman. We would discuss and share beers a little later in the afternoon. Back to the line; it was hectic, ordering was nerve racking, and the servers were no longer paying attention to names, only numbers would suffice. SO I called out for an "Edward" American Pale Ale, and an "Everett" Porter, or rather a 30 and 31. When I finally sat down I gave Adri the "Edward" to try and I took a sip of the "Everett", Wow! what a beer it was, one of the better porters I have had to date - Adri concurred.

They also had table service but given how crowded the place was I decided to get back in line and grab a few more. I had not noticed this the first time around, but the walls were covered in photo tributes to the breweries and liquor producers of Quebec that had everything to do with Vices & Versa's success. This time around I ordered a 3, 25, 35, and 41... "Vices & Versa 10th anni" by Dunham, Lawson's Finest liquids' "Double Sunshine" IPA, "Leo's Early Breakfast" cask by Dunham, and a "Dulcis Succubus" by Trou du Diable. All of them were delicious, though the "Double Sunshine" IPA was hands down the best IPA I have ever had, and the "Dulcis Succubus" might just be my favourite sour - refreshing and perfectly balanced.

Somewhere in between we got hungry and ordered a poutine, it would do. David Atman joined us for a good conversation and shared with us his bottle of "Saison Rouge D'Automne" by Dunham. We look forward to more great - drunken - conversations! After some chatting I noticed my glasses were empty... So I went back into the line, though this time it only had about 5 people in it. Next up! Numbers 39 and 41 - not my first choices - but, because every other bottle was sold out they would have to do - and did they ever. I grabbed an "Imperatrice" Imperial Stout, bourbon barrel aged by Trou du Diable, and a "Fous Allies" a Saison collaboration between Beau's All Natural and Trou du Diable. Both beers were excellent.

And then it was time to run. We had a great time, and look forward to going back to Vices & Versa, though we will be sad that they will not have a list of 50 over the top amazing beers. That being said, the beer list will be nothing short of awesome. SO I would like to thank Vices & Versa for showing us 10 years of beer, supporting Quebec's microbreweries, and supporting my craft beer consumption.

Thanks, I hope you enjoyed the article, and maybe next time you can join us!


- Jean

No comments :

Post a Comment