The Sharper Chef, Montreal: Jeff Picard, Brutopia

Montreal’s Sharper Chef series will feature prominent chefs, brewers, vintners and distillers, sharing some of their finest (and often secret) insights. In this debut installment, we feature one of our favourite brewpubs: Brutopia, with a guided tour from Jeff Picard, general manager.

Located in downtown Montreal and turning fifteen next March, Brutopia is a three-storey bistro renowned for its selection of in-house-brewed beer and fervent support of local talent. From Monday to Sunday you can expect live acts or entertainment, indulge in high quality ales, and feast from an unbeatable menu. Acting as a versatile venue space, eatery and watering hole, Brutopia is undeniably a staple of the downtown core. We’ve highlighted some of our favourite aspects below.

Brewpub vs Microbrewery
Do not use the ‘M’ word in an associative context when discussing Brutopia. Say “microbrewery” to Jeff and see the man’s expression turn solemn before he quietly and politely sets the record straight: Brutopia is a brewpub, not a microbrewery. (Hence the name.) The main difference is that a brewpub is not licensed to bottle and distribute its beer, whereas microbreweries often sell their beer in-house but also abroad. The advantage for Montreal beer enthusiasts is that at Brutopia, everything on-tap is made fresh — it must be — and contains no preservatives.

Ten In-House Beers
Brewmaster Chris Downey is full to the brim with mystery. Most of us have a thing or two we’ll take to our graves; this man has ten. Downey’s recipes, exclusive to Brutopia, range from twists on classic ales to seasonal stouts and wheat beers. Everything about them is sustainable and community-based, using local malt and hops (when available). Jeff’s favourite is the traditional IPA, a pale ale with a high level of hops that can be only described as “addictive” — yes, that’s us warning you, however subtle. This fall, be sure to try out their maple cream, oatmeal stout or dark IPA. We have full faith that there’s a beer at Brutopia for everyone. Go on, prove us wrong.

Free Live Acts
On most days of the week you can sit in on local bands, both amateur and professional, packing the house on both Friday and Saturday night. Jeff recalls some of his favourite acts that have played in the intimate stage space — Shane Murphy, Dennis Woods of The Dress Whites, and Ladies of the Canyon. The best part is that at Brutopia, you never pay a cover, unless they’re hosting a fundraiser for a local cause they believe in.

End (and Start) of the Weekend
Brutopia also has weekly events on Sundays and Mondays. Sunday is the infamous open mic, claiming its spot as the oldest in Montreal as it approaches its tenth year running. On Mondays you can find local comedian Asaf Gerchak hosting Iron Man Trivia Night, the only respectable way to show off your knowledge of lepidopterology. With happy hour running all night and free rounds for the winners of the night, Iron Man is a great way to take the edge off the start of the week.

Mouth-Watering Menu
Brutopia’s menu boasts a variety of foods that showcase the multicultural cuisine of Montreal and, in our eyes, is quite possibly the last respectable pub menu in the city centre. Bringing in traditional samosas, from Parc Ex, and immaculately prepared gourmet sandwiches, Brutopia ably satisfies the appetites of foodies. Jeff recommends the quesadilas, a favourite of ours, and the chicken wings — especially if you like spice. And really now, what’s not to like?

Image courtesy of Danielle Scott.

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