One of the cool things from my late spring trip to Montreal and Ottawa (see posts here and here) that didn’t get reported right away was my side trip to Gatineau (formerly Hull) one afternoon. The Capital Region city on the Quebec side of the river has two brewpubs – Microbrasserie Gainsbourg and Les Brasseurs du Temps. Gainsbourg had some interesting beer in a relaxed, informal atmosphere. But Brasseurs du Temps (BDT) were the real highlight. Enough that even though they didn’t make the initial articles on the trip, I felt the need to write about them anyway in articles for Planet S Magazine (read here) and Vue Weekly (upcoming).
What was so special about BDT? The 12 beer on tap was uneven but generally well made. I quite liked their Blanche de Koralie, a witbier, which was sharp and fresh with a delicate citrus edge. La Nuit des Temps, their stout, was also a tasty sip. Others were at times out of balance or too big or too small for the style, but all were honest, well-crafted attempts.
The beer is not what made the place stand out for me. The brewpub, which opened in 2009, is located on the site of the Capital Region’s first brewery, dating back to 1821. Both the old brewery and the new brewpub sit on the banks of Brewers Creek, which ambles through the centre of town. It is a great setting for having a pint.
But as cool as that is, that is still not what set the pub apart. What really did it is that into the pub they have incorporated a museum. Starting in the centre of the room and working down a spiral walkway to the lower floor and creekside patio is a curated museum detailing the history of brewing in the region.
The museum is set up to allow you to grab a pint and leisurely work your way down through the installation, which consists of bilingual displays and brewing artifacts from the region. You can skim it in 5-10 minutes or have a more thorough visit. My leisurely walkthrough took about 25 minutes.
I can honestly say I learned a few things about brewing history in the region, so clearly the museum does its job.
What I most appreciate about how they have set this up is that the museum is incorporated into the experience of the pub. It is not in some side room where only a handful of people, possibly at a cost, see. Any patron at any time can wander through. It is an excellent model for incorporating beer education into the drinking experience. It also anchors the brewpub in a sense of place and time – something that I think breweries need to do more of to build a unique craft brand.
So, next time you are in Gatineau, pop by BDT. I am sure you will learn a thing or two. And hopefully, in time, other breweries and brewpubs will take their lead and set up their own beer education installations.