Quebec City is a splendid city to explore, where treasures are revealed at every street corner. Its charming downtown, built in the British era, is a living testament to the past. Beyond history and landscape, the city of Quebec is also well known for its excellent microbreweries. This article invites you to explore the capital of the Belle Province through a journey of its top 5 craft breweries.
In the Algonquian language, “Québec” means “where the river narrows,”. In brewers’ parlance, Québec “where beer flourishes.” If Belgium has its abbeys dedicated to divine fermentation, Quebec has its own legion of artisans dedicated to the quest for brewing quality. We invite you on an odyssey of love, an epic journey through the brewing soul of Quebec.
The history of this city goes back centuries. Amerindians from the region and beyond often gathered on the heights of Quebec City for important meetings. When the first French settlers set foot in these faraway lands, they quickly decided to settle in Quebec City for its strategic advantage. Whoever controlled this point on the river guarded the St. Lawrence’s entrance to North America.
The French brought with them brewing traditions rooted in their culture. Over the generations, the passion for beer was passed on to the British regime, whose many sailors propelled the beer market.
Today, the national capital of this great brewing nation is home to no fewer than 36 microbreweries, each more inviting than the last. Among them, many distill a treasure trove of aromas and flavours not to be missed. Without pretending to rank them (for choosing would be an impossible task), we propose instead a five-stage journey. A journey on foot through the great breweries of this August.
Where to Start Your Tour of the Top Five Craft Breweries?
You’ve just arrived in Quebec City. Either you’ve landed in Montreal to save money on your ticket and visit the metropolis at the same time, or you’ve flown through the Quebec City airport and are a stone’s throw from the coveted prize: Old Quebec. Either way, first you need a headquarters from which to launch your hop expeditions!
Quebec City’s geography is vast, in keeping with the uncontrolled vastness of the North American continent. However, everything seems to point to its historic center: the old city walled in by its British ramparts, the former capital of New France rebuilt by England.
Quebec City’s walls still stand majestically and imposingly. Their shadow still marks the boundary between yesterday and tomorrow, between memory and the future. If you have the time, visit the Citadelle of Quebec, a military museum overlooking the river and the Plains of Abraham. A guided tour that captures vast swathes of Quebec’s history, from New France to modern times.
And don’t miss climbing the walls of Quebec City from the Place D’Youville a great meeting place, at sunset. Well-kept green spaces, designed to evoke nostalgia, welcome lovers, history buffs and memorable encounters.
Craft Brewery#1: L’Inox
Your adventure inevitably begins in Old Quebec. After strolling along the Dufferin Terrace, that charming wooded esplanade at the foot of the Château Frontenac, your thirst will soon guide you to the L’Inox brewery. Firstly, because it’s just a kilometer from the Château Frontenac, secondly, because it’s the first microbrewery in Quebec City, and thirdly, because they brew excellent beers!
L’Inox opened in November 1987 in Lowertown, then moved to its current location on Grande Allée in 2007. They’re pioneers, and their beer is a testament to that. If you must visit L’Inox, it’s also because they’re located on Grande Allée, that pedestrian artery where the vibrant heart of Quebec City beats.
Depending on the season, L’Inox can offer you a beer to suit the weather and your thirst. In autumn, for example, L’Inox usually offers a scotch ale to warm you up! Of course, the Double IPA is worth the detour, but don’t be shy: try also their safe IPA and Munich Lager, two sure-fire values!
Craft Brewery #2: La Barberie
La Barberie, one of Quebec City’s first craft breweries, is a veritable institution in Quebec City. Here, in the shadow of the Palais de Justice, a stone’s throw from the Old Port and a stone’s throw from the lively Limoilou district, you’ll find yourself in a beer sanctuary. Distributed throughout Quebec, their beers are synonymous with exceptional quality.
La Barberie offers a relaxed, casual atmosphere, perfect for a break from Old Quebec. You’ll find a wide variety of top-quality beers. Bonus: their terrace is arguably the best in town. Regardless of which route you take, the place is located at the crossroads of multiple pedestrian routes, making it a real crossroads for beer pilgrims!
Of course, you’ll have to try ALL their IPAs, but otherwise the Ogunquit 3000 will satisfy your gustatory and historical curiosity. Because yes, Ogunquit is a true symbol of Quebec. I dare you to tell the other customers about it, and while you’re at it, tell them about Elvis Gratton too… It’s got nothing to do with beer, but you’ll be entertained…
Craft Brewery #3: La Souche
Next, head for La Souche, a microbrewery that transports you to the warmth of a cottage, but without the drawbacks. In addition to their award-winning beers, La Souche is renowned for its exceptional cuisine. You’ll enjoy tasty dishes that pair perfectly with their beers. The friendly atmosphere and rustic decor make this place a must on your brewing journey.
The folks at La Souche are known for their dedication to experimentation. The original brewery is in Stoneham, which you’ll want to visit if you’re visiting in winter: it’s the perfect place to cool off after a day on the slopes!
You’ll have the chance to taste new creations on the spot. An example of this microbrewery’s bold creativity: the inimitable frutillada is inspired by Peruvian chicha, with an explosion of strawberry flavor on a body of cornflakes. The beer is inspired by the tales of the great traveler Martin Thibault, Quebec’s Indiana Jones of traditional farmhouse beer.
Craft Brewery #4 Brasseur Local
As its name suggests, Brasseur Local is the perfect place for local beer lovers. This microbrewery also offers the opportunity to take a healthy break thanks to its vegan menu. The original idea was to bottle the experience, the ambiance, of the Limoilou district, whose atmosphere has a touch of the inviting and warm.
Brasseur Local is also the “old school” model. There’s a search for the source, an approach to origin, that transpires in their craft beers. Expect more nuance and less frou-frou. “Less is more”, as the owner says. Let yourself be pleasantly surprised by beers in the truest artisanal tradition!
Although the brewery is relatively young, it stands out precisely for its uncompromising hospitality. The beers are named after local symbols, offering flavors that couldn’t be more local. Please note: according to the latest information, the restaurant is only open from Wednesday to Sunday.
Craft Brewery # 5: Noctem Artisans Brasseurs
Here you are in the Saint-Sauveur district, a former working-class neighborhood that attracted tanners and textile artisans as far back as the days of New France. In contrast to the Upper Town, a district for the notables and the more affluent, the Lower Town was the working-class district. But Saint-Sauveur and Limoilou have recently been revitalized beyond recognition and have become affluent districts. Today, a visit to Quebec City without walking through Saint-Sauveur is like visiting a microbrewery without testing their pilsner!
Your brewing journey ends in style at Noctem, where creativity reaches its boiling point. Located in Quebec City’s vibrant Lower Town, Noctem is the dynamism and reality of this part of town. Their original, experimental beers are a feast for the senses, and the lively atmosphere is infectious. It’s a must to conclude your brewing journey.
Bonus: the menu is highly gourmet, with fine attention to detail to the beer accompaniment. Of course, you’ll have to try at least one beer dedicated to cats. Indeed, you’ll find the sacred animal of the ancient Egyptians on several bottles. It also makes for excellent conversation! On a more serious note, we recommend you try Double Catnip, a highly-rated New England-style IPA!
When visiting Quebec City, it’s best not to rent a car. Parking can be difficult, and walking is the best way to discover the beauty of downtown. Don’t forget to sample the culinary delights on offer at local restaurants, especially in the Limoilou district, which is packed with affordable and delicious eateries.
Québec City, with its rich history and vibrant brewing scene, is a must-see destination for beer lovers. Explore the city through this brewery itinerary, sample the excellence of local microbreweries, and discover the beauty of Quebec City at every step of your journey.
And why not frame your trip around the beer festival season?
Pierre-Olivier Bussières is host of the podcast le Temps d’une Bière and editor-in-chief of the eponymous blog. An amateur historian and passionate raconteur, he’s interested in the intersection of alcohol, culture and history.
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