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Brewpub Review: Lagabiere, St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec

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You know that brilliant idea that pops up in your mind while you're drinking a pint of your favorite beer, at your favorite pub? Yeah, that's it, the one about going around the country - heck, even other countries! - visiting and having a taste at all of the breweries along the way.
Factually, what started out as a mere drunken scheme whilst in an equally drunken stupor has since become reality. Just recently, I have been sending out press invitations to microbreweries and brewpubs in the grand, renowned Montreal region... And to say the least, the response has been and still is astonishing. So astonishing that I've had to keep a tight agenda ever since.
Indubitably, Quebec has in recent times developed quite the knack for "home-grown" beers; brewers are clawing at one another for a piece of the niche craft beer market, all the meantime fighting back the macro giants feeling the tug of the smaller producers. Some, however, prefer to sit back, relax and look at the show. Pint in hand, staring at the pristine waters of the Richelieu River of course!
Enter Lagabiere.

Francis and Sebastien Laganiere have been brewing in the quaint riverside town of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu since their teen days. What started as a home operation in their parents' garage quickly grew in scale when the brothers launched their brewpub early last year. "Biere" being the French word for beer, this playful twist on names has repercussions throughout their brews.
At first short of an artisanal brewing permit and forced to launch by incoming bills, the duo bit the bullet and served some of their soon-to-be competitors' products. Being in proximity to the regional military base, the local college and surrounding businesses, Lagabiere soon became THE place to hang out and drink a pint in good company after a hard day's work. When the permit finally came, the brothers didn't waste a crack and hastily started producing their lineup of English, German and American West Coast-inspired brews.

All of their products are clean tasting and generously hopped. Their flagship blonde, the Captain Brian, pleasantly surprised me with the notes of Citra it left in its wake. With more than twelve taps on hand, and countless other ales on rotation at any given time, there's bound to be something for everyone and anyone. From dry, bready pale ales inspired by the macros and designed to please even the uneducated, to an herbal witbier that, in my honest opinion, utterly steals the show.
Named the "Apothicaire," this delightful white is brewed with a mixture made by a real herbalist, and contains, among other things, red basil. This stuff is supposed to be good for your liver, which when you think about it is sort of a paradox and rather counter-intuitive - but whatever, I believe them!
Equally impressive and appropriately named is the Bomb'ale. It may be coined after the famed Indian city and the fact that it's a bonafide hop bomb, but this true West Coast-style IPA is loaded with scores of Citra, Willamette and Centennial. A nice and dry, biscuity finish leaves the palate ready (and definitely asking!) for more. The brew masters being the hopheads that they are, this is far from their only concoction brimming with the fuzzy green stuff.

Innovation is the name of the game at Lagabiere. The guys have a chocolate stout that tastes just like your mom's hot cocoa - they even pour it into a coffee mug! And if that isn't convincing enough for you, they'll serve it hot... If you ask nicely, of course.
Francis and Sebastien even acquired a Randall to infuse their wonderful nectars with more flavor. Every week, a different combo is showcased; during my visit, cinnamon-laced apple brown ale flowed through none other than... FRESH-CUT APPLES!
Speaking of apples, the boys have been in touch with a local producer of fine ciders and apple brandies and are supposed to acquire a set of oak barrels and age a variety of ales. With several thousand square feet of basement space to fill, the local brew masters are not short of inventive ideas. Apple brandy barrel-aged beer? Has anyone ever heard of that?

The pub itself sure has a homey feel to it. From the beer memorabilia strewn all over, to the hobo bell behind the bar and the antlers and snowshoes hanging on the walls, one sure feels right at home having a pint, laughing your buttocks off at one of their weekly comedy shows. There's even a lounge area at the back that looks like a living room - fully furnished with Uncle Bob's old cathode TV set and a Super Nintendo - and a wonderful terrace out looking the Richelieu River, where you can enjoy one of the refreshing light beers they shell out during the summertime.
It is such a homely, familiar place that none other than dad, he who coped with the mess in his garage all those years, and even uncle Claudius, he who has a brew on the menu named after him, dropped by to throw back a couple of pints. No need to even guess where the boys got their habits from with these two hogging the taps.
All that being said and done, if ever you're in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu - or even anywhere NEAR the border in Vermont, as a matter of fact! - I'd highly recommend paying a visit to Francis and Sebastien over at Lagabiere. With these two young lads at the helm, and their undying passion for good, artisanal-brewed beer, the pub is bound to become a renowned establishment throughout the industry.
Oh, and sorry guys, no bottles... You'll have to come sit right at the taphouse to get a taste of their brews!
 
@scratchypants Not to sound pretentious but it would have been unlike me to make such an error. At first I thought it might have been a typo, then perhaps autocorrect or a simple misconception of the word itself, but actually the definition would depend on the dialectal.
According to the Oxford Dictionary: British = "simple but cosy and comfortable, as in one's own home," North American = "unattractive in appearance." For regionality's sake and to avoid further confusion, I have made the correction. Thanks for the heads-up.
 
I apologize if this is an obnoxious question, but does this place accommodate people who do not speak French? Homebrewtalk.com is predominantly English language and the province of Quebec is primarily French-speaking. I'm just anticipating any possible communication problems.
 
@Phil_Ozzy_Fer Of course it does! Albeit you might be served in a broken English, most of the staff in Montreal and its surroundings is predominantly bilingual and during my visit I noticed that the menus were available in both official languages. I wouldn't anticipate any problem at all... Don't let the language barrier scare you away, the staff is friendly and will guide you along.
 
@Phil_Ozzy_Fer
I'm from Quebec, keep in mind that even if french is our first language, we are surrounded by a couples of hundred millions of people who speaks english so we are used to it ;)
A little of Exoticism is always a good thing!
 
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