Hydromel Charlevoix is a new company in Baie-Saint-Paul located just behind the Tony & Charlo restaurant and bar – a benchmark for young Charlevoix residents and newcomers. The mission of the owners, Anthony Dufour and Alexandre Côté, is to make eco-responsible alcohol.
The sleek building invites us into a shop where Fred Tremblay’s (Ali As) work is exhibited. The local artist was inspired by the lands of the Dufour family, well-known cheese producers in the region, and route Saint-Antoine Nord in Baie-Saint-Paul. You can see several beehives, surrounded by wild flowers, with a view of the river beyond. On the shelves, bottles display a label that evokes the company’s artisanal character. Wildflowers, pressed on Saint-Gilles paper made in Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive, are hand pasted by the team. Each bottle is unique and respects the environment. Gin, liqueur and brandy, made from honey, are available for tasting or to take home.
In all, there are about 300 to 400 beehives, strategically installed in places where every flower and plant can add its nectar to the honey used to concoct each of the Hydromel Charlevoix spirits. The bees define the product’s taste. For some products, the team adds fruits that grows near the hives, such as haskap berries, grapes, and strawberries in particular. Their work promotes the essential bees and the Charlevoix region.
This summer, the company is inviting visitors to see the factory and the hives. They’re offering tastings of their products, made with a lot of research and finesse, but also with a dedicated ecological conscience. Nothing is left to chance. Every sip comes with the taste of love for nature.
When artist meets entrepreneur
Alexandre Côté studied music and teaching English as a second language. With his wife, he decided to move to Charlevoix to live closer to nature and perform shows as a musician. He has long enjoyed making wines and spirits. His father always had a fine wine cellar.
During his travels, Alexandre visited a few distilleries and realized that creating his own alcohol was possible. He began reading about the subject and conducting tests that resulted in developing a true passion for making mead, combined with his desire to create an alcoholic product while continuing his commitment to protecting the environment. He partnered with Anthony Dufour, who had experience in entrepreneurship after establishing the Tony & Charlo resto-bar a few years earlier.
“After an evening playing Eminem on my acoustic guitar, the party took off and I saw the old barn behind the restaurant. I had come back from New York where distilleries were being created in any shack, with the windows wide open. Maybe I was a bit naive because it’s not the same standards as here, but I called the barn’s owner and told him about the distillery project.” – Alexandre
Anthony Dufour is a Baie-Saint-Paul native and has been an entrepreneur for several years. He became a restaurant owner by age 20. Today, at 29, he is well established in his community. He has developed his management skills. Alexandre says Anthony has good decision-making sense. Alexandre mainly takes care of product creation and maintenance of the hives and the bees. It’s a complementary business relationship that assures the company’s continued success.
Rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste in summer
Baie-Saint-Paul is an essential visit during your stay in the Charlevoix region. Culture lovers and foodies are well served on rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste, the ideal place to discover local artisans and take home glorious memories of Charlevoix.