When it comes to the food and drink industry in cities like Montreal, fame often comes at the expense of accessibility. The better a restaurant or bar becomes at its craft, the more it tends to fall into the “artisanal” or “gourmand” categories. With these labels comes rising prices and, consequently, the exclusion of the average Joe from enjoying the delicacies that a given bar or restaurant has to offer.
Thankfully, the good people at Dieu du Ciel!—Montreal’s foremost provider of quality micro-brewed beer—believe otherwise. As DDC’s pub manager Etienne Tremblay and head of communications Leila Alexandre explained in a sit down with The Main, being good at what you do is the perfect reason to share your craft with as many people as possible.
This fusion of quality and accessibility is, first and foremost, discernible in the way DDC makes its beer. While other beer makers spend years adding tiny hints and subtle notes to their brews as they try to create a flawless, “classic” iteration of the IPA or porter, master brewer Jean-Francois Gravel explicitly tries to put twists on old favourites that will draw casual beer drinkers in with their originality while appeasing connoisseurs with their attention to detail. “We do our best to re-invent the classics and bring them to a place that will be interesting for everybody,” said Tremblay. “We originally focused on attracting people who really knew their beer but eventually, we started to realize that the beer we were brewing had a pretty wide appeal.”
The creative minds behind DDC have truly taken their populist mission to heart, as the only praise that satisfies them is that which comes from being the people’s choice. “We care much more about what the public thinks than what beer critics think,” says Tremblay as he recounts the various reasons why Dieu du Ciel doesn’t participate in very many brewing competitions. He does point out with particular pride, however, the fact that DDC’s beers do very well on ratebeer.com, an aggregate review site where people all over the world submit their ratings for beers they’ve tried. “We like ratebeer because it’s the voice of our customers and people from all over the world as opposed to beer critics who are much more subjective,” says Tremblay.
DDC’s desire to make good beer for the people also spills over into a desire to run a good bar for the people. “We try to capture the classic Montreal joie de vivre in both the way we make beer and the way we do business,” says Tremblay. “We want people to have fun here as opposed to just sitting down, tasting beers, and taking things too seriously.” Tremblay and Alexandre also explicitly mention the homey vibe of DDC’s space as part of the experience. While many in Montreal are surely begging for a second, larger DDC location to be open, the owners seem content to stick with the current location’s cozy, communal atmosphere. “We have to grow at the right speed for us,” says Alexandre. “We don’t want to lose our heads or our quality.”
Not every brew-pup offers beer that is both high quality and highly enjoyable. Even fewer offer the chance to consume said beer in an unpretentious environment. Montreal is truly lucky to have a place like Dieu De Ciel! that allows the citizens of our fair city to have their beer and drink it too.
What’s your favourite beer at Dieu du Ciel and Why?
Etienne: “It would have to be Péché Mortel. It’s our flagship beer and people come from all over the world to try it. Plus it’s made with coffee so you can drink it all night and never get tired
Leila: “It might be boring but Blanche Paradis was the first beer I ever drank regularly when I started working at Dieu du Ciel so I kind of consider it as the reason I grew to love beer.