I took the opportunity to visit Le Réservoir during my recent Montreal stay for the Hart ale re-brewing. It is in the Plateau area of Montreal, an old district enjoying a revival in recent years.
The area was always mixed and still is: Francophone, anglophone, and a riot of changing ethnicities. Indian, African and Asian presence seems prominent today, in the past it was more Jewish and Greek. The Plateau is the flat part of the city east of Mount Royal which rises in the north downtown behind McGill University.
Le Réservoir was established in 2002 and is owned by Michel Zabitsky. Its brewer is Nathan McNutt, as I explained recently in connection with the Hart beer recreation. It is in a medium-sized, two-story building with a Mediterranean-style frontage. This probably reflects its past as an Italian or Greek restaurant. It is on Duluth Street, just east of St. Laurent boulevard, the old “Main” (Main Street), a major north-south artery in Montreal.
There must be 25 or 30 brewpubs on Montreal island. The oldest was established 30 years ago, Le Cheval Blanc on the site of a former “taverne” (the old drinking establishment of Quebec, male-only and of minimal amenity). Early implantations included Brutopia in the Crescent Street area downtown, L’Amère à Boire on rue St-Denis and Le Saint Bock on the same street. Many followed, partly stimulated by the growth of the French-owned (from France) Les 3 Brasseurs chain. One which is internationally known is Dieu du Ciel on Laurier boulevard, we sometimes see its beers on draft in Toronto.
A relatively recent arrival is Harricana on Jean Talon Road near the old Park Extension neighbourhood. And there are many more, each offering some detail of its beer service, food menu – Harricana does a great beer can chicken, and ambience.
The cozy Réservoir offers a good choice of draft beers. An American-style pilsener, dry stout, rich brown ale, cream ale, sour Flanders ale, and two IPAs (one flavoured) were on offer during my visit, plus special bottlings for sale on premises. A strong Baltic porter is one, unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to try it. So they really cover the range of what has been offered over the last generation in brewpubs everywhere but also have newer, more edgy styles.
I liked the cream ale, a successful “nitro” interpretation of a British bitter, very drinkable and tasty. It occurred to me that this is how nitro bitter should taste, where the beer flavour is preserved but the nitrogen gas softens and rounds the palate. Definitely a beer to enjoy by the pint.
The stout was grainy/acerbic in the modern Dublin style, the raw grains included wheat in this case. Well-executed although not my favourite kind of beer. They told me an oatmeal stout will appear soon for winter which is richer and more a classic porter.
The pils has a 15% maize addition yet was flavourful and dryish with flowery Saaz hops in evidence. I felt it had an appley, sharp top-note. The food looked very good and a steady stream of dishes went by the bar from the kitchen. The hamburger has to be the no. 1 pub food in Montreal, but that’s probably everywhere.
An enjoyable brew pub in an interesting and historic part of Montreal, Le Réservoir. Below are images I took of the immediate area, and a couple of beers I enjoyed at the bar: