ShazamFest celebrates its 10th anniversary this year with a great program full of music, skateboarding competitions, wrestling, burlesque, circus, laughter, workshops and so much more. The festival starts Thursday July 9 and runs until Sunday. Camping is available on location, at one of the first certified organic farms in Canada. Also, you can join the fun on Sunday for free, a little gift to the public for the 10th year anniversary.

What is ShazamFest?

From the road, the site doesn’t look like much, just a simple field. But once you get in, you arrive at a magic place. A place that apparently has been a meeting point for a very long time. The site, located in the Eastern Townships, about 20 km South West of Magog, in Barnston West (roughly a 90-minute drive from Montreal) was an Abenaki meeting spot many centuries ago.


Ziv Pryztyk, the festival’s founder/director, explains that the idea behind the festival, more like a carnival, is to bring together a community, for people to interact and build networks with people that might not be from their regular social circles (or even age group, as it is a multi-generation event).

In its first year, the festival attracted about 400 people. Since then, the party has now grown close to 2000 people, with three generations embracing the fun of camping on the grounds. The festival is free for kids under 12 and you will never be charged for water.

Shazamfest is an eco-conscious festival, meaning local food is provided. This year’s beer of choice comes from Beau’s All Natural Brewery in Eastern Ontario. This craft beer company has been invading the Quebec market for the past five months and is now available in over 70 bars in Montreal, as well as in IGA stores and depanneurs that carry craft beers.

The Lineup

Many acts will be performing during ShazamFest this year. On the musical side of things, there will be Buck 65 on Friday, Lemon Bucket Orchestra on Saturday and Mike Goudreau on Sunday, to name only a few. Miss BonBon Bombay will be hosting the Burlesque side of things.


There will be a skateboarding competition on the famous Shazam ramp, which gets bigger every year.  There will also be wrestling events and a laughter competition held by Albert Nerenberg. Circus, forging and other workshops will be given each day of the event.

Win Tickets

Want to attend ShazamFest for free? FTB and Shazamfest are giving away a pair of day passes for Saturday. Since Sunday and camping at the fest are free already, this will get you two days and one night of Shazam for free.

To win, just share this post on social media and leave a comment below, letting us know what aspect of Shazam you are most looking forward to.

Good luck!

mondialbiere_DSC_0824-2000Gallons of rain and new beer characterized the 21st edition of the Mondial de la Bière at Palais des congrès.

While I didn’t have the liver (or the cash) to sample all 270 premières on tap, I still managed to round up a short list of “solid bets” to last you through the year to come. So file them away for next time you intend to spice up your malted life.

1. Les vergers de la colline, CID Cuivré 10%

This high fermentation cider is, to me, the very reason festivals exist – tasting a product you know (and most of us have had CID products, perhaps unknowingly, at some bar or other) all while witnessing it elevated to new, bold heights. Clocking in at a heady 10%, the rich mouthfeel of the Cuivré somehow doesn’t overwhelm (a few of us went back about three times). What’s more, its strong alcoholic content is mercifully protected from oversweetness, leading to a much drier, more pleasant glass than the classic CID varieties. To top it all off, the new Cuivré 10% is available in both flat and sparkling forms.

2. Glutenberg – IPA 6%

This playfully-named gluten-free producer will almost certainly surprise you. Non-allergenic or not, it’s a serious contender in the craft scene and it showed this year – despite 100% gluten-free offerings, their stall was packed and often required a wait. The IPA, a newish offering, probably won’t appeal to IPA purists (except those trying to get off gluten, who will be overjoyed at the quality!). But if you’re a lager fan, cider fan, or just a relative newbie to IPAs, it’s a magical choice. It has spice and piney kick lingering from hops, but a brighter, simpler finish that almost makes you think you just drank a mead or lager. You could definitely drink this for an evening without getting tired of the taste.

3. Pub Brouhahah -Dernière Mission 6%

The brash blonde (with a label to match) was a fabulous find. Take a sniff and revel in those great aromas, and enjoy the subtle sweetness (honey or pear? I might have been imagining that), without it ever destroying the aftertaste. Again, a beer you could sip on throughout a long summer night.

4. Noire et Blanche, Abyss’ale 5.5% and Litchi-Tchin 5%

This fun-loving, accessible microbrewery from Ste-Eustache was so friendly that they get two nods. The first, their highly-touted Abyss’ale, a dark red at 5,5% delivered as promised, and literally put shivers down my spine (but then again, I’m biased when it comes to spine-tingles, being one of those odd people who get off on excellent red beers more than an exceptional IPAs). The second, a blonde with lychee and ginger, was…well, an experience. Should lychee and ginger go in beer? I still don’t know. Nor do I know whether such a novelty will endure in the market, but we tip our hats to them for a memorable taste.

6. Belgh Brasse  – Mons Rousse D’abbaye 5.5%

The Mons red, which has already won some serious bling around the world at beer competitions, is a no-brainer. You can’t go wrong with any of their beers (white, blonde, stout). If you can find them (that will be the challenge), stock up for the year, and ration them out on special occasions. You absolutely will not regret it.

7. Thronbridge Brewery, Raven Dark IPA 6.6 %

An intense almost smoky IPA from Derbyshire, UK, with a profile that even a non-hoppy lovers (like me) can broadly appreciate. The IPA in this case was lifted into an almost caramel realm.

8. Birranova, Abbocata 6,5%

What is not remarkable about this English style ale out of Italy? I’ll leave it at this: ’tis a fantastic artifact of the growing microbrew movement in the country. This one was definitely in the bold new style, with a strong and bitter nose, but finished smoothly, almost innocuously, like the lighter lagers we’re used to from Italy. This is a beer to drink when you cook a great gamey Northern Italian dish, and want to dream of Tuscan hills with something other than wine for a change.

9. Jukebox, Blonde 5,5%

While many new breweries are proud of their hoppy taste, only Jukebox took it to the next level, forcing me to sniff bowls of damp hops, whose skunkiness almost bowled me over. Tasting the beer, however, it is clear that these guys from Les Cèdres have done everything in their power to honour the herbaceous perennial well. An American Pale Ale up there with the best of them.

Have a favourite to add to this list? Tweet us @forgetthebox or @JoshDavidson and let us know!

We’re nearing beer o’clock. More specifically, we’re nearing the most highly-anticipated 60 hour stretch of conspicuous beer consumption of the year. It’s called the Mondial de la Bière.

Unlike your average worknight, where access to Porto Alegre or Farnham microbrews can be tricky to say the least, a quick métro ride will suffice to sample over 500 types of malted bev between June 11th and 15th.

Photo: © Olivier Bourget for the Mondial de la bière

570 is a big flashy number, kids, but here’s what I’m most excited about.

Over half those beers are making their Mondial premiere. Given the fact that each brewer generally wants to showcase as much product as possible every year, this is a big deal.

What does this mean? 269 beers that you’ve likely never tried before.

Where to start? From Noir et Blanc’s Abyss’ale to DDC’s rhubarb & grapefruit stout to a new 8% sparkling cider from McKeown, the newbie carte is vast. Some on the list have already premiered around town, such as Brutopia’s Dreadnought or McAuslan’s Double IPA. But that should not stop you from tasting a drab or two and learning more about how they make their beers–if only to make more informed decisions in the future.

Eat while you drink

While you may think that the only food you’re interested in is barley or wheat, you must recall that beer tasting goes smoother (and longer) if puncutated with just the right amount (and type) of nourishment

For the first time, I’m very happy to see the Mondial assuming some serious gastronomical duties. Whereas previous iterations have featured a smattering of stands with small nibbles, this year features 15 full-out food kiosques and an entire slate of tutorials on cooking with beer.

Photo: © Olivier Bourget for the Mondial de la bière

So to that end—and possibly because, well, beer drinkers are such sturdy types—you’ll find stalls with deer smoked-meat (on panini) seal’s loins and even wild boar hamburgers. If yours is a fragile stomach, don’t worry, there’s plenty of traditional stuff like pretzels, sausages and meatballs.

How bout them apples?

500 varieties of malted bev can be rather overwhelming. But gluten doesn’t rule the day here. At the Mondial, “bière” is a loose term, and you’ll also find over 50 different ciders, meads, and other fruit-based options.

So save up your loonies this weekend ($1 gets you a drink ticket; most drinks cost 2-4 tickets). Next weeken will be a hoppin’. (Sorry)

Keep an eye out for our recap of the Mondial’s gastronomical offerings, as well as a Top 10 new alcoholic “découvertes”, right here in Food & Drunk!


The Mondial de la bière runs from June 11-14 (10 a.m. to 11 p.m.) and June 15 (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.) at the Palais des congrès.

Got suggestions of beers we should test? Tweet us at @forgetthebox and we’ll “do our best” to drink even more!


Cover photo by Martin Dougliamas via Flickr (cropped)

Banh mi by sodani chea via flickr

To me, spring in Montréal means a renewed appreciation of open air food and drink.

Banh miTranslation: Banh Mi on a park bench, coupled with cold lager. It might well be the city’s most underestimated pastime.

You’ve probably heard of banh mi. It’s that magnificent cultural collision that succeeds, against all odds, at marrying French and Vietnamese culinary sensibilities. Initially the product of colonial encounter, the banh mi has long traced its own legacy, and offshoots can now be found in virtually any city in the world.

It’s an unlikely marriage that on paper seems almost jarring. From the French we procure baguette, liver-based patés, mayo and a penchant for charcuterie (er, deli meats). From the Vietnamese we grain chilis, cilantro, pickled root veg and various traditional cuts of meat.

The magic lies in the skepticism…you bite in expecting a mistaken mashup. But then, amidst the salt, spice, dough, vinegar, fat and cilantro, your palate stops trying to compute—somehow it all just works.

Though Montréal is not particularly known for its Banh mi, it shouldn’t stop you from trying. It may be because our Vietnamese population is not so huge (less than half of Toronto’s, for example), or possibly just because the places that do sell these magical mouthfuls tend to be humble and unassuming–flying almost under the radar. Perhaps one day a hot local chef will publicize the form (à la ramen or tacos) and we will be. But if it hasn’t happened by now…it’s doubtful.

Wondering where to start?

Banh mi on park bench
Spring means Banh mi and park benches, preferably combined

Below is but an introductory platter of banh mis, tried and tested by me. They’re biaised toward the city centre because I don’t get out much. But I can vouch for them. Each is worthy of a spring park fling based on the following 3 criteria:

– fresh and authentic ingredients
– located near a picturesque public space
– within steps of a dépanneur (to buy beer)

1) Hoang Ong Sandwich (1071 St-Laurent)

Hard to beat. Probably the freshest I’ve tasted, ironic because they tend to pre-make them in advance of the lunch rush and hand them to you readymade in little plastic bags. If you go for the spicy option, beware that while excellently fierce, the chilis are sometimes bunched into one deadly, surprising bite.

2) Cao Tang (1082 St-Laurent)

Probably the most famous in town and possibly the oldest. Very simple counter with 12 options on the wall, always reliably good. Closes early.


–  (1089 St-Laurent)

Eat outside at:

– The little park & steps off Gauchetière, sandwiched between Chenneville & Côté (across from Complexe Guy-Favreau).
– Parisien inspired Square Victoria
– Lesser-used Place Jean Paul Riopelle

3) Vua Sandwich (1579 St-Denis)

Upstart Vua has provided the notoriously-touristy Quartier Latin with a good option for workers and students alike. Quick, very fresh. Carrot/daikon in my opinion are the best here. About 50 cents more than its Chinatown counterparts but well worth the “splurge!”


Couche-Tard (1555 St-Denis)

Eat outside at:

– Benches or steps around UQÀM, or picnic tables or benches at Place Émilie-Gamelin
Square St-Louis

As for banh mi beer pairings, something light or bright works best. But if you don’t want to think, just grab a Pabst from one of those next-door dépanneurs. Banh mi + a Milwaukee brew for LESS than $5? That’s what I call an adult Happy Meal.

If you’ve tasted others, especially in banh mi-loving Villeray (where parks and beer, I’ve heard, also exist) please spread the springtime joy. Let us know in the comment section below or via twitter if you’ve got first-hand knowledge to share!

Cover photo by Sodani Chea via Flickr.

I am writing this review with a splitting headache.

If you got off this week at Bonaventure metro and walked through the underground to Windsor Station expecting to find the beer fest, you probably (like I did) found yourself lost, confused and with an intensely whetted pallet for a “drop” of the sweet libation of the gods (also known as beer).

In that case, you would want to head in the other direction to Place Bonaventure.

The 18th edition of   the Montreal Mondial de la Bière happens to be one my favourite summer festivals — especially when you crave a break from a Pabst/Trembay/Old Milwaukee/BB10 dependency. Damn you cheap beer!

At the new location you will find a whopping 550 different beers. 550! That is an incredible  increase over past years, which have been limited in space and selection at the outdoor venue that is Windsor Station.

The new space is nearly double in size. Which means more elbow room for drinkers and less fights starting from accidental bumps between drunk patrons. Woo hoo! One of the main complaints about the original space at Windsor Station was that it was seriously overcrowded.

Seating will also be more available, as the new space can now seat over  2,000, as opposed to the 50 at Windsor Station. So instead of trying to find a place to rest your bum in a small patch of green (which is one thing I kind of missed) we can now  all sit and be merry!

Two indoor pubs will be featured at this beer-fest, the Bistro Petit Pub Européen, which has beers from all over Europe, and Petit Pub Oktoberfest, which offers the brews of North and South America.

A bunch of Kiosks will be offering food, like Buffalo on a stick. Mmmm, extinct meat….but most of the time you would find me hanging out near the apricot beer. Which I have to admit, is my preference for taste. However you will find every kind of ale to appease your palate. And the currency system is pretty good. 20 bucks will get you 20 tickets and a beer mug, with which you can sample 3 or 4 beers. About 24 tickets later I was glad I found my way there…

I feel like Germany, Poland and Russia visited all the way from Europe to lovingly curb stomp me. But that’s probably in part because the approaching weekend came and resumed pouring rat piss down my throat. Thanks, depanneur beer.

So now, it is time for my after beer nap in the summer sun. See you later.