Whenever I’m in a new city, I like to imagine what it would be like to live there. This little game speaks a lot to my travel style. When I’m somewhere new, I don’t want to do tourist things. I want to experience something close to normal life. I’ll put a visit to a foreign grocery store over a trip to a museum 9 times out of 10, because everyday experiences will teach me more about a given culture than most museum exhibits. Pondering how it would be to move to whatever place is a natural extension of this, particularly when I’m really enjoying wherever I am, as I was in Montréal.
After falling victim to some bad intel on what had promised to be a delicious lunch on Saturday (the place was closed on weekends), Chris and I were forced to think of what we really wanted. For some reason, all I could contribute was “I actually really kind of want a beer.” Chris agreed, but when we finally sat down to lunch, I ordered a glass of rosé and he ordered a mojito. I remarked on how we had both said we wanted beer specifically and yet neither of us had ordered one. But, there is a reason for that. In general, beer selection in Montréal is… not great. Heineken, Molson, Budweiser, maybe Stella Artois. These beers are probably fine for many of you out there, but Chris and I are bona-fide hop heads. I would rather drink no beer than drink a weak lager. (Well, okay, don’t hold me to that statement.)
It was at that point that Chris asked the most serious question in the history of the “could I live here?” game:
“Could you live somewhere that didn’t have IPA easily available?”
Oh. Hm. Uh. Good question.
And with that, we took to the iPhone, determined to find a brewery in the city, reasoning that no self-respecting microbrewery would exist in this day and age without producing at least one form of IPA. We found one with great reviews that appeared easy to get to, and hopped on a bus. (Perk of being a confused tourist: the bus driver took pity on us and let us ride for free on the authority that he was “captain of this ship.”)
Dieu du Ciel (God of Heaven) is a brewery located in the Mile End neighborhood of Montréal. Immediately upon arrival, I knew I would enjoy this place. There was a beer garden set up on the sidewalk and a large chalkboard on the outside wall listing all the beers they had on offer.
Including no fewer than 4 types of IPA. Success.
We started with two glasses of the Morality IPA, one from draft and one from a cask. I really liked this one, particularly the draft version. Cask beer is flatter, causing the floral flavors to become more pronounced. I prefer my beer as carbonated and as bitter as possible. For the next round, Chris got a black IPA and I got a red IPA (the name of both escapes me), which I loved because it was extremely bitter. This red IPA was a hit, and we both ordered it for one last round.
Aside from solving the great IPA crisis, the other thing I loved about Dieu du Ciel was that despite its fame it is a place where locals go. Yes, there was a tourist couple next to me whose conversation dwindled from a mild argument about how much to spend on dinner into each of them sitting and reading a Kindle (which, okay, I guess that’s one way to keep away the travel-fights). Otherwise, as far as I could tell, the crowd was mostly local. We ended up sharing our table with a couple of guys who grew up in the city’s suburbs and were now living in town. They were great to talk to, and I feel like I learned so much about “real” Montréal life just from 30 or so minutes of conversation. Among the things I learned was that the rent for a (reportedly) decent apartment in a (reportedly) decent neighborhood is typically around $600.
As long as Dieu du Ciel is around to satisfy my IPA needs, for that kind of rent – sign me up!