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Maître Renard, boreal microbrewery

A first microbrewery in Eeyou Istchee Baie-James

Eeyou Istchee Baie-James is, of course, a majestic landscape. It is the boreal forest that stretches as far as the eye can see. It is its countless lakes and rivers. It is the millennial culture of the Crees. Eeyou Istchee Baie-James is nature at its best.

But Eeyou Istchee Baie-James is also about flavours. The flavours of the boreal forest, its plants, and flowers. Our immense territory abounds in flavours that are sometimes unsuspected.

But these flavours are not ignored by the epicureans at work behind the first microbrewery in Eeyou Istchee Baie-James. Maître Renard is a local microbrewery, a wine bar, a restaurant and, above all, a place where Chibougamau is honored and regional pride reigns supreme.

CELEBRATING CHIBOUGAMAU

Nord-du-Québec was the only region in the province without a local microbrewery. 

Nathaniel, Jonathan, Pascal, and Francis joined their passions and strengths to create beers with boreal flavours. Together, they opened Maître Renard, the very first microbrewery in Eeyou Istchee Baie-James.

For chef and entrepreneur Nathaniel, it was an opportunity to build relationships and partnerships with the people of Chibougamau. The idea of a microbrewery came to reality in the midst of the pandemic, when everything was at a standstill. For Nathaniel, it was an occasion to participate in the revival of his community. As with his restaurant L'endroit caché, the microbrewery and wine bar project had to be part of a local vision.

Chibougamau, the forest, the territory had to be put forward and celebrated in every detail.

Thus, the furniture was built by the company Chantiers Chibougamau, works of art by artist Emmanuelle Gendron adorn the walls of the microbrewery, and the boreal products are picked here.

"In my opinion, the future of the economy is local. I want to build relationships with the people here and together we encourage our own community." - Nathaniel

If they cannot find everything locally, the four epicureans of Maître Renard choose each partner, each collaborator, each product with care. Behind each of these decisions, one can feel the importance and the love dedicated to the territory and to their community.

THE BEERS

The northern territory is honored in the beers prepared so far. We travel right in the forest thanks to the fireweed and immortelle flower lager, the Labrador tea and American green alder red, the sweet gale NEIPA and the traditional wheat white.

Each sip bears witness to the meticulous and passionate work behind each step of the production process.

The FaunENord organization is responsible for the harvesting of the products. The harvest is done with care and respect for the renewal of the forest's resources. 

The two brewmasters, Pascal and Francis, have been brewing in an artisanal way for 9 and 5 years. After having received great advice from the brewers of Le Prospecteur, in Val-d'Or, they were ready to conceive beers with Chibougamau's colors.

"From the start, it was obvious to us that we wanted to work with products from the boreal forest." - Pascal

They did a lot of tests to taste different non-timber forest products, making cold teas, mixing them with existing beers. This is how they came to create the ideal beers for Maître Renard. We guess that each beer is the result of the pleasure of imagining and experimenting with different combinations.

And as the possibilities are endless with non-timber forest products, Pascal, Francis, and the picker Vincent already have many other ideas to offer daring and delicious beers.

One thing is certain, this first microbrewery in Eeyou Istchee Baie-James does not disappoint. It is also an excellent way to discover the behind-the-scenes of beer brewing!

For the four epicureans, it is not enough to live their passions: they must share them! That is why they offer dynamic tours of the brewing room. We discover all the secrets (or almost!) behind the beers inspired by the territory and for the people here.

THE WINE BAR

In the impressive cellar of nearly 300 bottles, one can choose from a selection of about thirty wines, all of which are private imports. Thanks to Jonathan, a fine wine enthusiast who selects each bottle that enters the cellar, we discover a wide variety of wines that we cannot find in the SAQ. This exclusivity is enough to make us want to come back more than once!

Especially since the wine list, by the bottle or by the glass, changes according to the seasons and orders. If the wines are not all from Quebec, each bottle has been carefully selected to respect the vision behind Maître Renard: offering quality products.

The wine bar also has a large selection of spirits, most of which are from Quebec. You can be tempted by cocktails with or without alcohol with flavors of the Côte-Nord, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Laurentians, and many other beautiful places in Quebec.

 

 

"With the wine bar, we wanted to meet the demand for a wide selection of wine by the glass. Now, anyone who loves good wine will be able to find something they like in our wine cellar."

- Jonathan

EATING

If the emphasis is not on food at Maître Renard (for a complete meal, you can enjoy yourself at L'endroit caché, Chef Nath's restaurant), this does not stop Nathaniel from having fun behind the counter of the microbrewery to serve varied and surprising platters of appetizers.

If these platters cannot only be composed of local products, the chef has turned to high quality fine products so that everyone can enjoy them. With cold cuts imported from Italy, fresh mozzarella, organic vegetables from Saint-Félicien, it is impossible to resist the temptation to taste what Chef Nath concocts.

His menu changes regularly and he only offers a few dishes at a time. His motto: do it small but do it well. Of course, all the flavors blend beautifully on the plate... and in the glass!

 

This first microbrewery in Eeyou Istchee Baie-James, with its wine bar and fine food platters, does not disappoint. More than a place to eat and drink, it is a place to gather and celebrate the community and the region. Having a drink and visiting the brewhouse is an ideal way to discover the art of artisanal brewing, the flavors of the boreal, and the sometimes-unsuspected richness of a larger-than-life territory. It is therefore not surprising that Maître Renard has been generating an unhoped-for buzz since its opening!