The Journey begins in a garage in Port Rowan, Ontario. It’s a man cave really, pool table, stereo sound system and a fridge full of beer, Ontario craft beer. Breweries and brewpubs now seem to proliferate the landscape in small towns across the province. Dave certainly has a selection. He serves up a Gateway Kolsch from the Sawdust City Brewing Company in Gravenhurst to start. This is an easy drinking 5% nod to Cologne, Germany. Smooth, light and flavourful. Next up, Red Rocket Spiced Coffee Stout (5.3%). A bold brew with a peppery accent, punching above its weight with a strong coffee component. Somehow it all seems to compliment itself. Then there’s Legends of the Bay from Hockley in Midland. An amber ale of quality, part of their ‘Legends series’ of specialty brews. Medium bitterness, earthy hops, bready, malt accented, good carbonation.
Lake of Bays Brewing in Baysville have some tasty brews. 10 Point IPA, a little more than an English IPA, good hop notes balanced against a deep malt base, dry hopped for aroma, 6%, 45 IBUs. Crosswind Pale Ale is a light, easy to drink brew for a hot and muggy Ontario summer day, 5%, 25 IBUs. Irish Red Spark House rounds out this trio, complex darker malts rule here, some malt sweetness balanced by an underpining of hops. There’s Broadhead Brewing from Nepean with a really nice amber and Descendants Beer of Wellesley, who make an excellent Harbinger APA.
Off to St. Thomas now, to the Railway City Brewing Company and their summer offerings. The Witty Traveller is especially nice, thirst quenching and effervescent seasonal witbier, spicy, fruity, with biscuit malt notes, fresh hints of ginger too. 4.5% 15 IBUs. Their Dead Elephant Ale is always a pleasure, 6.5%, 46 IBUs, nicely balanced hop bitterness sings with the carmelly malt base, tropical fruit notes, grassy hints add nuance to this full bodied ale. The Honey Elixir didn’t do much for me, but the Black Coal Stout (6%, 46 IBUs) is a toasty, roasty treat, with coffee notes and hints of bittersweet chocolate.
Up to London, Ontario now, for lunch at Milos’ Craft Beer Emporium, the best beer bar in the region. With 26 taps, 2 casks and a wonderful pub menu, this place is a gold mine! I started with Genius of Suburbia Session IPA from Flying Monkeys in Barrie. A 3.8% light and tight brew that hits the spot, fully flavourful from its hoppy nose to the malty close. Beerlab Keep It Real Session Ale (2.9%) This is their own in house line for Milos’, brewed at London’s Forked River Brewing Co., who, by the way, make an excellent Riptide Rye Pale Ale (5.7%). Mackinnon Brothers Brewing from Bath had a malt rich, unfiltered 8 Man English Pale Ale, deliciously more-ish!
Up the road not too far is the Toboggan Brewpub. Offering up 10 beers on tap including their own Kolsch (4%), IPA (6.3%), Double IPA (7.5%), APA (4.5%) plus guest taps like Nickelbrook’s Payson Saison and Forked River Riptide Rye.
More bottles now. The excellent Innocente Conscience American IPA from Waterloo. A beautiful blend of big hop values and a full body of malty basics, 5.7%, 80 IBUs, hits the mark for hopheads. Their Charcoal Porter was also a delightful treat to find. Thanks to Peter for ferrying them in from the brewery.
From Collective Arts, Rhyme and Reason Extra Pale Ale (5.7%) 55 IBUs speaks volumes in this lovely multi-hopped brew, malt sweetness balances the beautiful bitterness to a crisp, dry finish.
Peterborough’s The Publican House Brewery makes Square Nail Pale Ale (5.5%) is still a treat, a west coast style, brimming with hoppy goodness hitting 43 IBUs, but wonderfully balanced with a complex malty profile.
That’s all for Ontario for now. Lots happening, the industry is growing despite the poor gov’t controlled and monopoly managed distribution system. Next blog, my recent trip to Holland and Belgium. Cheers, fezz.