Upon entering Station Ho.St, a dimly lit, no-frills brasserie in Montreal’s Plateau neighborhood, you wouldn’t expect it to be one of the most dedicated beer and whisky bars in the whole city. Ho.St is essentially a detached tasting room for Brewery Hopfenstark, whose production brewery is based 30 minutes away, in l’Assomption.
The tasting room serves all of Hopfenstark’s beer, plus some very selective local and international bottles. Additionally, they curate an excellent selection of spirts, namely whiskey. The place smells like fresh timber, just as if a log cabin possessed a new car smell.
When you enter you also wouldn’t expect the brewer Fred Cormier to greet you, invite you to join his table, and call you by name for the rest of the evening. Alas, that is precisely what happened. And not just to me – this is a place of regulars, and I became one instantly.
Fred started Hopfenstark in 2006, and the place hasn’t brewed a boring beer since.
With a focus on innovating international styles, namely Belgian and German ones, their motto is “Quality, Integrity, Fraternity”, aiming to stay true to their ingredients, techniques, and also their followers. Talking with Fred, it is clear that he is not only enthusiastic but responsive. He listens with intensity, and responds to my casual tasting comments with pride and passion.
Here is what distributor, 12 Percent, has to say about this unique brewery:
“Since its beginnings, the brewery has churned out a range of beers that draw inspiration from regions across the globe. Pales and IPA’s and Barleywines with American influence, K.lsch and Helles contributions of Germanic descent, and Belgian styles in spades. This very prolific producer has taken on the task of developing their own versions of countless customary beer styles, but also of adding their own individual stamp to them.”
As we sat at a large table near the front of the room, many people greeted us and were so pleased to talk about beer, travel, and Montreal. I met the neighbors, brothers Goran and Zoran, as well as loyal patrons Gabriel and Maxim. Everyone studied the menu, taking inventory of the new selections as well as the classic favorites.
Saison Mérope, a Belgian Pale Ale, and Sasion 55, a bitter saison, were hits as they made the friendly rounds. Faust Tripel was a favorite of Rick’s as he had never tried that style before.
A visit to Ho.St is absolutely a must when visiting Montreal. It is very conveniently located, and the enthusiasm and caliber of beer is unmatched. Ho.St has served as a venue for learning and meeting, both formally and informally, and regularly contributes to the betterment of the Canadian beer world.