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It could be about more than just beer…

Posted April 23, 2012 | 10:15 am, by Mirella

I attended the 25th anniversary of Le Cheval Blanc brewpub in Montréal last weekend and it was fantastic. Le Cheval Blanc is the oldest craft brewery in Québec and a great place to visit if ever you’re in town.

When I heard about what Le Cheval Blanc was doing to celebrate this landmark anniversary, I absolutely had to go. Of course, the brewer made all kinds of tasty treats to celebrate (these beers are being released at the brewpub throughout the month of April, with a launch every Tuesday that includes special Cheval Blanc anniversary brews as well as guest brews supplied by other local breweries.) Although the anniversary brews were delicious, they are not what drew me to Montréal.

What drew me to Montréal was the party itself, which took place at a nearby concert venue on April 13th. It was billed as “Je sors du Cheval” – I’m stepping out of the pub. Here is the ticket:

It was, at advertised, a “Cabaret Bancal & Gros Party” – wobbly cabaret and big party. Members of the staff, including brewer Eloï Déit, formed a band called l’Orchestre équestre, and various staff members and regular customers took turns singing some of their favourite hits from the past 25 years. The atmosphere was fantastic and the energy was contagious! As it turns out, because the venue had a contract with another brewery, the beers on tap weren’t even brewed at Le Cheval Blanc. There was one offering that was brought in especially for the occasion, but otherwise customers were drinking what was available.

What I found really great about this celebration is that the party wasn’t only about the beer. It was bigger than that. It was about the community. It was about a fantastic establishment that has been supporting the local arts and music scene for 25 years and also happens to brew its own beer. As I listened to the band and watched the audience dancing and singing along, it occurred to me that this party was unlike any other brewery anniversary that I’ve attended. It wasn’t a panicked rush to try a new limited-edition anniversary beer. No one was sitting and analyzing anything. Everyone was up and dancing. It was so refreshing.

In my five years in the industry so far, this is only the second time that I’ve experienced this kind of vibe. The first time being two years ago at Lovejoy’s Tap House, in Austin Texas, where the regulars dragged me away from the bar, at which I was planning to sit to sample through the house brews, and invited me to shoot some pool instead. I hope that, as the craft beer industry evolves and the community grows, this kind of atmosphere will become increasingly common. One where the beer is delicious but incidental. Of course, seeking out limited edition brews is fun, as is sampling something new, and taking notes can be helpful. But wouldn’t it be great if some brewpubs and beer events were about more than just the beer?….

One comment

  1. Great thought. Personally, I prefer it that way. It’s never only been just about the beer for me, it’s about the experiences that come with the beer. Even something like going to a pub to try a limited edition shouldn’t only be about describing it to your friends/the internet after – it should be about experiencing the beer in the environment provided…and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a great party 🙂

    Comment by Linda Lee on April 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm

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