January 7, 2012

Jan 7th, 2012. St-Tite, minus the Rodeo

I am almost certain that not only will we see in the average Quebec town a Notre Dame street, a church, a makeshift post office, a huge cross at some intersection, and a sign for poutine, but also a microbrewery. That may take a little time, but I swear it's coming. St-Tite is a relative new comer with a solid repertoire of 10 or so beers which rotate seasonally.

The town of Saint-Tite is now mostly known for its insane Rodeo which hosts about 700,000 people in 10 days. Quite something for a small town of around 4000. It is said that this festival was pushed in the late sixties to promote the leather industry, of which Saint-Tite is an important producer. Who knows. But now through the long stretch of forest past Shawinigan, soon a million will pass....

Saint-Tite (Titus), was originally the companion of Saint-Paul. Died in the year 107. And with so many Saint towns in Quebec, who knows why Tite was chosen.

Saint-Tite is known to me for its microbrewery A La Fut. In serious need of beer for Renard Artisan Bistro, with a somewhat crappy snow storm out, my kind of yoga. It is in their brewing room in the beginning of snow storm January that I find myself learning about the beauty of making beer. The smell and warmth of malted barley is strong in the room. Right above my head is a vat of their stout boiling (for 1.30 hours approx.), to which Mathieu, one of the 6 owners of this Co-op ads a mere handful of hops which controls the foam. After this process he explains they then centrifuge the mass to rid of all coagulated solids (much as clarification of a beef stock), then the liquid is chilled and fermented. As passion usual carries, there are may other details and steps that are explained, but after my long drive through the snow storm from Montreal, hunger was distracting me, as to be expected.

To be expected, although a pub menu, most of the ingredients are local, even organic. A goal the brewery would one day like to reach also, although even if much of their grains come from Mauricie, some organic, some not, there are some from England as well as Czechoslovakia. This being more a problem of internal politics and stability in product, than a complete lack of it. Those with persistence and will! (and a little money) will bridge this gap...

I fortified myself with a beer sampler....

Blonde de St-Tite pale ale. Fruity, light with very little bitterness. nice malted side. 100% Quebec grain.

La British. Brune aux noix. A little smoky, dominant cereal taste and smell, lightly bitter, nutty, toasted hazelnut finish.

Cuvee IPA Houblonee 2. floral, grapefruit. Lots of hops! Nice and bitter.

La Bete Noire. Stout a l'avoine. A dose of coffee, chocolat, flirtatious, smooth, graceful. Amazing. But they tell me it will be some time to perfect the Stout in a bottle. A very complex thing, much to do with the frothy head....soon to come.

It is great to taste something which inspires....

Tasty, serious and positioning themselves in the artisanal beer sales in Quebec, which account in total for only 6% provincial beer sales. "In New York state artisanal beers accounts for 30% of beer sales." I am told. And when the Rodeo hits Saint-Tite Molson and the big boys take over completely....but hopefully not for much longer, as A La Fut now holds a much more interesting alternative.

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