Ultra-Local Microbrewery

Le Relais Boréale is a new meeting and tasting place for Montreal beer lovers as well as a unique venue highlighting eco-responsibility, re-use and local know-how through innovative design. The project showcases Boréale’s circular approach and marks a homecoming for the pionnering microbrewery which brewed its first beers in the city 35 years earlier.

Rethinking The Future Awards 2023
Third Award | Interior (Hospitality) (Built)

Project Name: Le Relais Boréale

Category: Hospitality (Built)
Studio Name: Atelier L’Abri
Design Team:  Jade Lachapelle, Pia Hocheneder, Nicolas Lapierre, Francis Martel-Labrecque
Area: 2800 sf (260 sm)
Year: 2022
Location: Montréal, Québec, Canada
Consultants: N/A
Photography Credits: Raphaël Thibodeau

Render Credits: N/A
Other Credits:

Construction: Modulor
Collaborators: Élément Bois, Inat, Studio Botté, Flyss, Bois Public, Sistemalux, Planteca, Polycor, Céragrès, Ramacieri Soligo, House on the Rock, Bilodeau Inox, Atomic Soudure, LG2

Le Relais Boréale | Atelier L'Abri - Sheet2
©Raphaël Thibodeau

Located in the Mile-Ex neighbourhood, the microbrewery occupies a corner space within a WELL-certified building complex. The project designed by L’Abri enabled the transformation of a commercial suite, made of concrete and glass, into an efficient brewhouse and a warm dining room that can accommodate 60 people. The layout takes advantage of the double-height location by creating a mezzanine above the cold chambers containing the beer barrels to display the stainless-steel fermenters. On the tasting room side, a long bar acts as the welcoming point for customers to sit in a social and fluid way.

Le Relais Boréale | Atelier L'Abri - Sheet5
©Raphaël Thibodeau

Artisanal production and sourcing

The design focuses on local manufacturing and sourcing. A timeless concept highlights Boréale’s heritage, continuing innovation in beer-making and the local identity of the space and brand. The design-build team of L’Abri and Construction Modulor surrounded themselves with artisans from the neighbourhood who share similar values to create unique furniture and lighting. Studio Botté, a creative studio handcrafting lamps from upcycled elements, designed and produced pieces that reuse, among other elements, 1960’s lamppost domes from the City of Montreal and old liquor bottles. At the heart of the project, towards the brewing room, visitors will recognize the emblematic colour of Boréale on the large dark blue wood table. This creation comes from local woodworker Inat who also provided the handmade tables and chairs for the brewery. The wood used for its blue pieces and the outdoor benches come from Bois Public, an organization that recovers and reuses wood from downed Montreal ash trees. In the same way, the granite for the counters has been supplied by a quarry less than three hours from the city. With its ultra-local design, Le Relais Boréale has thus become a new homegrown flagship in the neighbourhood.

Le Relais Boréale | Atelier L'Abri - Sheet3
©Raphaël Thibodeau

Circular approach and collaborations

For many decades, Boréale has built strong local know-how and partnerships based on reciprocal exchanges and sustainable operations. In addition to upcycled materials used in the design, Le Relais Boréale also incorporates lifecycle principles in their day-to-day activities. Putting forward an eco-responsible approach, the microbrewery has partnered with the Boomerang cooperative that recovers spent grains from brewing residues to transform them into flour for local bakeries. The products are also available at multiple local stores in the city. From the street, the vat containers are visible day and night and highlight the brewing activities indoors. In the same way, the project features second-hand equipment including brewing tanks and other materials. For its first venue with a tasting concept in the city, the Boréale team and their collaborators successfully established an exemplary proposal rooted in the spirit of local knowledge and resource sharing of the neighbourhood.