Brasserie Dunham : Something for Everyone in the Centre of Town

Published on Aug 12, 2021

For the past 10 years, Brasserie Dunham has been a go-to spot in the area for its fun atmosphere and its approachable, unique and creative beers.

By Rose Normandin

To get to the Eastern Townships, visitors often take Highway 10, a flat and fairly boring route. It’s quick and efficient, but the adventure really begins when you get off the highway. For those who feel like exploring, there are lovely villages along Route 202, nestled in a pastoral setting you’ll enjoy getting lost in. You can follow in the footsteps of our bootlegging ancestors by going further into the countryside toward the US border, where you’ll discover quaint towns reminiscent of New England, such as Saint-Armand, Pigeon Hill and Frelighsburg. To come back, take Route 213, which becomes Rue Principale when you reach the charming town of Dunham. Take in the historic character of the stone houses, then stop off at the most impressive building in town for a drink and a bite to eat.

The Relais de la Diligence, built around 1865, initially served as a post office, then as a hotel for travellers making the journey from the United States to Montréal. Still a hub for local residents, over the decades, the building has housed a number of shops, services and restaurants. For nearly 10 years, it has been home to Brasserie Dunham, along with its pub and farm-to-table restaurant, where you can enjoy beers brewed with passion and creativity. The establishment is part of the Brasseurs des Cantons Circuit, which links some 20 microbreweries in the area. Beer lovers regularly fill its patio’s picnic tables and drop into its shop for one-of-a-kind brews.

Les propriétaires Sébastien Gagnon, Éloi Deit et Simon Gaudreault (©Simon Jodoin)

Standout beers

The brewery was initially the vision of Sébastien Gagnon, who had taken over Brasseurs et Frères. Éloi Deit, an expert brewer at Cheval blanc in Montréal, also joined the enterprise. A few years later, Simon Gaudreault eagerly jumped on board to spread his love of craft beers and, as he puts it, “develop a thirst for them.” Over the years, they have built a group of dedicated employees with a range of experience, all of whom share the same curiosity and desire to make the microbrewery a success.

“What sets Brasserie Dunham apart is our large selection of beers. We excel at several styles,” explained Simon Gaudreault. “Some of our specialty beers are aged in oak barrels that have contained wine or spirits from around the world. We also work a lot with wild yeast and acidifying bacteria. That can give the beers a more sour, sometimes winelike profile, and makes them bold and original.”

Due to its microclimate, not only is Dunham a first-class winemaking region in Québec, but it also attracts farmers who grow a wide range of products. The brewery incorporates local products into its experimentations, such as honey, flowers, maple syrup and fruit. Clearly, collaboration is key, even necessary, for the brewery owners. It comes through in the varied charateristics of their beers, as well as in the restaurant’s menus and on their bottle labels. Simon Bossé, artist in residence with a silkscreen printing workshop upstairs, recruits other artists in Québec, the United States and Europe to create labels for the microbrewery. They take inspiration from the beers and their development process to produce an image that reflects the product, confirming the unique identity of every aspect of Brasserie Dunham.

However, it would be a mistake to think that this focus on experimentation and originality makes the beers unapproachable. The artisans at Brasserie Dunham believe that boldness and drinkability go hand in hand and that just because the flavours are surprising, they aren’t necessarily an acquired taste. They express their creativity through a refined product in order to offer a diverse line of accessible beers for every palate.

“A lot of people walk in and they don’t really know what they want to drink,” said Simon. “They discover a host of products with a variety of flavour profiles that are approachable, generally have mass appeal, and aren’t overly sour, bitter or high in alcohol content. There’s something for everyone.”

In the centre of town

While microbreweries have become extremely popular across Québec and have changed the drinking habits of Quebecers, their role in bringing people together is also very important to the owners.

“The local residents live in fairly small villages, where it’s difficult to get together and talk, so people come here to catch up and make plans. The space also become a cultural and artistic hub, where interaction is key. I think it’s very fitting to have a local brewpub in the centre of town.”

While a number of Québec retailers sell Brasserie Dunham products, the shop has a few exclusive, small-batch items, with slightly more eccentric profiles. So if you make the trip to this historic spot, not only will you get a taste of the region, but you may leave with a few rare treasures in your bag.

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