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At the end of every summer, thousands of Quebecois flock to Chambly, about 20 minutes outside of Montreal, for the outdoor "Bières et Saveurs" (or "Beer and Flavors") festival alongside the Richilieu River. For four days, the idyllic grounds surrounding the 18th-century Fort Chambly become a miniature city of tents, taps, spits, and stages, with over 70 breweries decanting some of the province's most inventive artisanal brews.
Flavor is the key word: In contrast to hop-forward American beers, Quebec brewers like to play with malt and infuse their beers with tea or mangos or even frozen beets. As one American visitor noted, "The beer here seems all about clobbering you with some bizarre flavor." And if your French is terrible, you often need to figure out those flavors on your own: The program and signage are all in French, as is the food—pork rillettes, wild boar sausage, poutine, and even local grilled cheese sandwiches.
As you might expect in a place with long, snowy winters, Quebec brewers seem to gravitate toward autumnal styles: Porters, Scotch ales, barley wine, along with healthy doses of sour beer. Check out the slideshow for a few of the delicious (and eclectic) brews found on tap at the festival this weekend.