Montreal Beer Store Throwdown: Veux-Tu Une Biere vs. Le Paradis de la Biere
Veux-tu une biere? Do you want a beer? Yes, please.
Criteria: Selection, Sizes, Snacks, & Price
Sure, you can get beer at any Depanneur in Quebec, but finding all the amazing micro-brews that the province offers requires a specialty shop. Le Paradis de la Biere (aka Supermarche Rahman) on Laurier between Parc and St-Laurent has always won out as the place with the best selection of local hops-y delicacies, but about 5 months ago a new beer store called "Veux-Tu Une Biere" opened right next to Crémazie metro on rue Liege. It's not a Dep, and it's not an epicerie that also carries a lot of Quebec beer like Le Fromagerie Atwater in the Atwater Market or the Marché des Saveurs du Quebec at Jean-Talon Market. It's more like Délires du Terroir in Plaza St-Hubert, but there's a feeling when you walk in that this is a place for all types of drinkers - beer beginners, intermediates, and pros (you can definitely be a beer pro, both the legit kind and not so legit kind) - and despite the selection of local cheeses, spreads, vinegars, chocolates, nuts and teas, the shop's raison d'etre is to help you explore a few beer options you've never seen before and might just love.
Best Selection of Micro-Brews: Veux-Tu Une Biere is a smaller shop than Paradis de la Biere, but while this may make it seem that the selection is smaller, that's not necessarily the case. In fact, cases are the problem. Paradis de la Biere has cases of beer everywhere, which makes it quick and easy to grab a half dozen of any kind of Dieu du Ciel - something that gives me shivers - but all those beers are also available at Veux-Tu Une Biere; they're just organized individually in the fridges.
One of the beer fridges at Veux-Tu Une Biere?
This encourages a kind of DIY-case of beer option where you can add some variety to your case. While bigger companes such as Dieu du Ciel and Au Maitre Brasseur offers this mixed case philosophy for their own beers, Veux-Tu Une Biere lets you choose from any of the Quebec micro-breweries stocked in the fridge. So it's kind of impossible to know which store has a better selection (they both carry the carrot and jalapenos beers from the Micro du Lievre), especially since new beers come to Veux-Tu Une Biere? all the time, which you can find out about on their Facebook page.
The fridges themselves are the best part of the store. They're not organized by brand, but by beer type. So all the rousses, all the blondes, all the porters, all the stouts, and all the lagers are together. If you like Belgian-style beers but are looking for something you can't find at your average Dep, there will be a good 5 or 10 options you've maybe never seen before (Micro Brasserie du Lac's "Vire Capot" Belgian-style blonde, or La Chouape 1881) all lined up side by side. There are even abbey-style beers made right here including Les Freres Houblon's Fontaine du Diable. Feel like trying some barley wines? There are four:Barley Wines at Veux-Tu Une Biere?
Specialty Beers at Paradis de la Biere
Paradis de la Biere also carries all the standards that Deps must carry (Molson, etc.), but they definitely carry a lot of unique offerings and beer gift ideas including the special sets of 4 Simple Malts plus a glass (top left of photo):You can find the same at Veux-Tu Une Biere stacked above the peanut butter and apple butter:
The Make-Your-Own-Case system is all well and good if you like to mix and match, but what if you just want a whole lot of the same beer?
Size: Veux-Tu Une Biere?But if the large format jugs are too much for you to handle, either make some friends and/or try these instead:
"A little less big" beers...
Best Snacks: Veux-Tu Une Biere, but Paradis de la Biere for chips, junk food, and Dep essentials.
The biggest difference between these two shops can be demonstrated by comparing the photo above of the organic spreads at Veux-Tu Une Biere? with this one of Paradis de la Biere:
Veux-Tu Une Biere is about beer appreciation and even beer pairing, which is why Carl, one of the owners of Veux-Tu Une Biere, explained to me how one of his favourites, the Corps Mort Vin d'Orge, goes well with some of the Quebec specialty cheeses the store sells. Want some chocolate with your coffee porter? They have some dark, bitter, high-end options. They also have locally-made terrines, bulk nuts, and fresh fish from Nova Scotia. And if you got dragged into the store by a friend and somehow aren't tempted by the ridiculous selection of beer, there are even artisanal bulk teas. Not exactly the same effect, but to each his or her own. Salvage the friendship if you can, I guess.
If all you want is a snack, Veux-Tu Une Biere? does have baked and fried chips and some local salsas, but you won't find any Uncle Ben's or Chef Boyardee in these parts. So Veux-Tu Une Biere? is definitely on a very different food level than the suggested cookies and beer combo (however satisfying) at Paradis de la Biere
Price: Paradis de la Biere when there are sales, and Veux-Tu Une Biere? for individual beers.
Like the beer-organization system at Veux-Tu Une Biere, there's also a handy sticker system that tells you the price of each beer in each fridge (and saves the hassle involved of sticking price tags on everything). Paradis de la Biere can have some great sales because they've been around longer, are bigger, have more traffic for Dep items including beer and are more centrally located. At Veux-Tu Une Biere, however, the beer costs less the more you buy. Bulk prices on beer? Again, yes, please.
The only other big difference is that Carl and co-owner Patrice of Veux-Tu Une Biere don't brew and sell their own beer in store like Paradis de la Biere does ("Paradisiac"), but they'll happily walk you through the already enormous selection of the best bottles (and jugs) being produced in the province. Conveniently, both are open everyday for a Dep-like amount of hours.
Paradis de la Biere (aka Supermarche Rahman)
Where: 151 Laurier West
When: Daily, 8am-11pm
Veux-Tu Une Biere
Where: 372 rue Liege East
When: Daily, 11am-11pm