4 Origins Brewing Co: Montreal’s new hoppy place
The 4 Origins Brewing Co. in Montreal sits across from a park on the Lachine Canal. Downtown’s skyscrapers jut out from behind the long stretch of still, shimmering water. This location is golden. Even now, as weird as things are, I still think this is one of my favourite
happy hoppy places.
Benjamin Somers co-founded this brewery with Michael D’Ornellas and Keegan Kelertas. Somers and I are sitting outside at one of the wooden picnic tables that would otherwise typically be claimed on a hot mid-summer day like today. Bars are still closed to the public: a line of masked patrons is already forming, two metres apart, in search of the latest creations.
The brewery looks something like a souped-up warehouse: industrial on the outside, but all high ceilings, wooden walls and soft, yellow string lighting on the inside. Late 90s / early 2000s hip hop and R&B classics fills the space; the beer selection may take the cake, but the music… The music is a close second.
Welcome to the 4 Origins Brewing taproom
Though the 4 Origins Brewing Co. only celebrated its second birthday in April, their beers have quickly become terrace staples across the province. Some 350 locations across Quebec carry their products.
They offer five or six mainstay brews, but that number could inflate to close to 15 if they include limited-time-onlys. “We’re big on playing the seasonal game,” Somers admitted. “We rarely draw inspiration for new beers or flavours from trends dictated by the market. Oftentimes, inspiration comes from brainstorming within the team.”
One of their latest creations, a sour beer called Juice Box, was created after Somers saw a picture of a lemon blackberry cake. Conveniently, fruit is in right now, so they were accidentally trendy this time, but fruity brews regularly make an appearance on their beer list.
“We really try to make beer for people who are not connoisseurs and create a great product for those who claim they aren’t beer afficionados or experts,” he continued. For those unfamiliar with the 4 Origins selection, Somers recommends Botanik for a first taste. It’s a quick win: “Though gin beers do exist, there isn’t much like it on the market. It’s fresh, easy to drink and enjoy, while also delivering a sophisticated array of spices and herbs.”
I can relate to what he’s saying; it also happens to be my favourite.
This beer garden throws a mean tea party
The 4 Origins team uses an ingredient that just doesn’t get enough credit in the industry: tea. I have to admit, I was stunned when he rattled off familiar names containing the unsung hero. “Teas add a distinctive taste. It’s a great way to add aromatics or interesting flavours, to enhance sweetness without using sugar, even to provide a subtle tint,” Somers explained, seeing my surprise. Using tea in beer concoctions is a great way for them to opt for natural innovation instead of artificial alternatives.
What “buying local” truly means
When I asked Somers how the recently popularized “buy local” mantra affected their business, he answered without hesitation: “It’s been crucial.” The dedication to supporting their brand over the last few months hasn’t gone unnoticed. Week over week, the 4 Origins staff began recognizing the regulars returning not only to buy a can or two, but a whole case just to encourage the small business. Then, the clientele evolved: new faces emerged, proudly declaring that friends encouraged them to come support the brewery. Somers’s gratitude was obvious as he recounted those moments.
It will be(er) okay
“Buying locally extends to us as a company, too. When we decided to make Ça va bière aller,” – which translates to something akin to It will beer okay – “we reached out to local producers for ingredients and partnered with local brewers,” explains Somers. Even the packaging was designed by their talented chalkboard artist. This blonde beer, adorned by the iconic pandemic rainbow with a cheeky twist, is the only one in their selection that is made entirely from ingredients sourced in Quebec.
Solidarity in isolation
With people losing their jobs or out of work temporarily, Somers and his industry partners agreed that it wasn’t the opportune moment to sell a $7 beer. They quickly decided they’d be happy to forgo profit margins on this one by just meeting production cost. “We didn’t want to stop there,” he says. “We wanted to have more of a local impact. We heard that food banks dried up completely during the crisis, contributions having come to a standstill. So, we chose to also donate $1 per can to Share the Warmth, an organization that fights hunger and poverty in Pointe-Saint-Charles.”
As of July, the brewery is officially (re)opened for business. Despite the new norms relating to social distancing, the staff at the 4 Origins Brewing Co. are excited to see you soon. Browse their in-store cans selection for some new discoveries to take home, too!
Check out their Facebook page (@4originsbeer) for their official opening hours, new releases, and contact information. Your new hoppy place awaits.