Two biology post-grads walk into a bar. Jean-François Gravel and Stephane Ostiguy are lab partners at Montreal’s McGill University, one working on a Master’s and the other toward a PhD—and they like to drink beer. They like it so much that together they start making their own at home, led by Jean-François who had already been homebrewing for a few years. Then in 1998, just two years after first meeting, they open Dieu du Ciel! as a brewpub on the edge of the city center.
Their chemical, biological, and creative curiosity leads them to brew experimental beers, to play around with different yeasts, hops, and other ingredients, and this marked them out as different from day one. The figurative translation of their name is a common exclamation you’ll hear when people drink their beer: “Oh my god!”
Visit To Dieu Du Ciel! Is This Canada’s Best Brewpub? Photo Gallery
Today the brewpub looks like it’s 20 years old. There are too many chairs and tables wedged in irregularly; there’s not enough space to move around; the little brewery is packed to the side of the busy bar; and it will be busy, because a lot of people love this place. (In 2006 the brewpub was joined by a second space in Saint-Jérôme—259 rue de Villemure, Saint-Jérôme, Quebec J7Z 5J4—where a larger brewery was installed. You can also drink there.)
The beers are an even mix of Belgian and American-style brews, and it’ll help if you can read both French and English if you want to properly understand the beer board. The beers are exceptional across that board. If you want an IP A, then have Moralité, which is très fruité, juicily smooth, and dryly bitter. And it’d be a mortal sin to skip Péché Mortel, their highly regarded Imperial Stout infused with coffee—it was one of the original beers that got them attention and continues to be world-class today, especially on tap in the pub where it’s served on nitro, giving it even more body, richness, and deliciousness. Two biology post-grads walk into a bar. Or, more accurately, they walk into a lab and then into a bar, where they leave their white coats behind on the way to walking into their own brewpub and then into their production brewery. There’s no punchline and it’s no joke that the bar they end up eventually walking into became the best brewpub in Canada.
LOCAL TIP: A City of Brewpubs
Given the fact that Dieu du Ciel! is one of the best brewpubs in the world, you’ll want to spend a good few hours in there. But when planning your visit to Montreal, be sure to leave plenty of time to check out some of its other gems. Sta with a stroll (and end with a stagger) down Rue Saint-Denis and the nearby streets and you’ll find excellent brewpubs like Le Saint-Bock, L’Amère à Boire, and Le Cheval Blanc.
WHAT: Dieu du Ciel!
WHERE: 29 Laurier Avenue West, Montreal, Quebec H2T 2N2,
Dieu du Ciel is known for its Péché Mortel Imperial Coffee Stout, which makes perfect sense as it’s so good.
St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout
If you’re in Montreal, then don’t miss McAuslan Brewing (5080 St-Ambroise Street, Montreal, Quebec H4C 2G1). Based in the St. Henri district, they’ve been at the forefront of Quebec brewing since they opened in 1989. They offer brewery tours on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at their visitor center, and then you can go next door to L’Annexe St-Ambroise Pub to drink some more. I think their St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout is one of the best versions of this great style you’ll find.