Thousands of Quebecers have come to Fort Chambly National Historic Site to sip and celebrate the best of Quebec beers and flavors.
“It’s sunny for Labor Day weekend, so that’s great,” said Joey St-Arnault with an India Pale Ale beer in hand.
The festival celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
“Twenty years later, we are the reference. We are the biggest beer festival in Quebec”, declared Luc Rousseau, president of Concept B, the company organizing the festival.
Bières et Saveurs de Chambly has grown from a few dozen exhibitors in 2002 to 110 this year, offering more than 1,000 craft beers, ciders and spirits.
Rousseau claims that over 60,000 people attended on opening day.
The festival is a big success in part because Quebecers love their beers.
Statistics Canada reports that the province has some of the biggest beer drinkers in the country, with an average sale of 4.3 beers per week per adult.
“Quebecers are happy people [who] I really want to find out,” Rousseau said.
Curiosity doesn’t stop at the golden liquid.
Over the past decade, gin has been the fastest growing spirit in Canada.
Gin sales volume rose 81.8 percent nationwide, according to census data, with Quebec being the biggest contributor to the sales increase.
“Gin gives you the opportunity to explore a whole range of flavors and here we are really open-minded about flavors,” said Gabrielle Panaccio, events director at Distillerie 3 Lacs. “If you go to Europe, they like London Dry gin more, as well as more cla*sic spirits.”
Dieu du Ciel was one of the first vendors at the start of the festival in 2002 and one of the first microbreweries in the province.
Michel Villeneuve, brewery amba*sador, said the craft beer scene has seen a huge boom since the pandemic.
“Before 2018, I used to say in French, ‘Quebec is going to torch the world’, Quebec is going to set the world on fire,” Villeneuve said. “[It’s] the pa*sion of the brewers, the love of the brewers and quite simply the quality of the terroir.
With more than 300 microbreweries across Quebec and more than 60 new ones to come, organizers say the festival becomes more relevant every year.
The festival runs until Monday.
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