FestiBière de Gatineau – our very own beer festival (May 25th to the 27th)

Mario: in life, I have to be faithful to my wife. With beer? I can have a blonde, a brunette and a red-head! Mario: in life, I have to be faithful to my wife. With beer? I can have a blonde, a brunette and a red-head!
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Yes, you read that right, kids. The Nation’s Capital will soon be enjoying its second beer festival of 2012.

“Beer festival?” you ask. “That sounds like fun! Are we allowed to have fun in the Nation’s Capital?”

Indeed, my friends, we are. In the capable hands of Mario d’Eer and the organizing committee, this weekend promises to be a family-filled affair!

“Wait a minute, Claire, a family affair? You mean fun-filled, right?”

No, dear reader, I mean a family-filled affair.

When I met Mario D’Eer, author of several beer books and founder of the Festibière de Gatineau, he explained that the festival was conceived as a family affair, with musical entertainment, stilt-walkers and even a beer and cheese tasting for kids.

“Come on, Claire. Everyone knows that kids can’t drink beer. Even in Quebec!”

You are correct, the age of majority for alcohol in Quebec is still 18. Even Mario can’t change that. But, as he put it, alcohol is part of our lives, particularly in European-influence Quebec, and it is important to show kids how to behave when alcohol is around (and, let’s be honest, adults behave better when kids are around). Just because it is a beer festival, doesn’t mean that kids can’t enjoy it. After all, spruce beer, ginger beer, ginger ale….these are all beers! Mario will lead kids in a tutored “beer” and cheese tasting so that they can appreciate how what you drink affects the taste of what you eat, and vice versa. As a wine blogger for whom the marrying of drink profiles and food elements is important, I think this is a great idea. Developing the palate can begin at any age. Bet you it was a child who first put a pickle in a sandwich.

Mario d'Eer, founder, author and all around-beer educator!

I confess that the press conference I attended for this launch was the best one I have ever been to: Mario walked us through a tutored beer and food tasting and we were able to spend a lot of time discussing beer with him, learning about the up-coming festival and the resurgence of craft and micro brews. To be fair, Quebec has, as with cheese, never really lost its local producers. But it is also fair to say that even in Quebec there has been a resurgence in the variety and availability of beers created.

Mario is a wonderful, engaging speaker. His passion for beer (and food to go with it) is evident. A teacher by profession, he has organized this year’s event around the themes of beer and science with workshops and tutored tasting around ten topics.. Lest you think it’s a return to school, remember that it is beer of which we speak. How can that be boring?

While there will be at least one workshop a day in English, as Mario put it, “We do have more fun tasting in French than you do in English. It is “une fourchette (fork, feminine) et un couteau (knife, masculine)” and “de la bière” (beer, feminine) et du fromage (cheese, masculine). However you conjugate it, though, I agree that beer and cheese make the perfect date.

Beer and snack pairings by the Danny Lecours, Chef de Cuisine at the Casino du Lac Leamy

Beer chocolates from Rochef

The festival runs for three days with 63 booths, twice as many as last year. While half of these booths will be beer-related, half are local restaurants and producers. Held in the park surrounding the Casino du Lac Leamy, it promises to be a great event for young and all.

Tickets are available at the event and can be purchased in advance on-line and at specified locations in Gatineau. Tickets are for admission only and food and drink can be purchased on site.

What: Festibière de Gatineau
Where: Casino du Lac Leamy (1, Boulevard du Casino, Gatineau, Quebec)
Date/Time: Friday, May 25-27, 2012
Cost: Daily tickets $10, 3-Day Passes available from $20 (children under 17 are free, but must be accompanied) To purchase tickets online or for retail outlets, click here.

Although trained as a sommelier, I pay my bills working as an IT consultant. I love what I do for a living and keep wine as my hobby. As it looks bad if you only drink, I have occasionally been known to eat as well. Growing up on four different continents, I love to cook and appreciate the cuisines of the world. But wine is my passion. With a well-stocked cellar, I am always on the hunt for new wines and love hearing from people about their latest find or interesting pairing. My approach to wine: Drink what you like. Wine reviews need not be stuffy. Numerical ratings are meaningless. If it tastes good, drink it! If you don’t like it, then it’s not the wine for you.