As Ottawa’s love affair with the beer brewing industry rages on, hot and heavy, new brew pubs seem to be popping up every other day. Last year saw the opening of so many such establishments that to list them all here would be futile. Instead, take a gape at our beer map. Yup. There’s a lot of beer in Ottawa. But is there enough?
I think not. Which is why I was pleased to see the opening of 3 Brasseurs’ first Ottawa location. The French brewer, whose beer has become famous in Montreal, Quebec City and Toronto, opened their Ottawa location on December 27th. The brewer has taken over the corner of Bank and Sparks with an impressive-looking, glass-encased, two-story restaurant. And though the façade is nice to look at, it’s what’s inside that counts, particularly what’s inside 3 Brasseurs’ brewing machine, which sits in the centre of the restaurant, a reminder of the authenticity of the beer.
Any conversation about craft beer has the dangerous potential to swerve into the realm of ingredients, temperature, pressure, and other things which continue to elude my comprehension. Instead, I’ll focus on the only thing that truly matters: taste. In order to best serve our readers, I thought it crucial that I should try as many of the brewery’s six-odd beers as possible. And while it’s possible to order the fabled “Metre of Beer” (something that prompts your server to shout your order to the entire pub, a practice that for me conjures horrible memories of birthdays spent at Pizza Hut), I contented myself with the four-beer sampler.
The sampler contains the four main beers produced at the brewery: blonde, amber, white and brown. All four beers are quite good. The dark is very nutty, rich with a chocolaty finish, qualities which made it my instant favourite of the four. But the other three are no slouches – these are very decent beers, comparable to the mainstays of any fine brewer. And for those who feel more adventurous, there are two seasonal beers currently on offer in bottle form, each of which clocks in at 7% alcohol per volume. Sadly, their IPA won’t be available until next month.
The food, unlike many brew pubs, is fairly varied and plentiful. Burgers, sausages, pizzas and pastas fill a complete restaurant menu, and there are plenty of variations within the categories. If you’re looking for pub classics or an actual meal, 3 Bresseurs’ has both covered. Now, I should admit that I didn’t eat any of the food. I did, however, smell a plate of sauerkraut sausages from a table nearby. I’m pleased to report that it smelled good.
While the beer is good, I was a bit put off by the general atmosphere in the place. The décor and mythology of the pub harken back to a simpler time, as do the supplies of free peanuts by the door (by the way, if you’re allergic to peanuts, you absolutely cannot go to this pub!). But as well as being a place that exudes this sense of capital-t Tradition, 3 Brasseurs is also a sports bar. And since there was no sports to be had on the night of my visit, the pub’s expensive audio visual equipment was put to the task of pumping out top 40 hits at nauseating volumes. Something isn’t right about this. It’s not just that I hate the music, it’s that I feel that it clashes with the enjoyment of the craft of beer. Then again, I could see this being a good first stop to a night of clubbing – a place to get your groove primed while still drinking and eating well.
Overall, 3 Brasseurs is very much worth a visit. The beer is good and the food looks tasty. It caters well to those who like quite a lot of beer (metres, pitchers and a one litre mug called “Le Varlet” get the job done). And while its atmosphere is a bit too gregarious for my tastes, it’s clear that the set up would be ideal for catching a hockey game.