The Beer Baron is back! This post comes from Matt and you can find him on Twitter & Instagram @geekcanuck
The London Beer & BBQ Show has steadily been getting bigger and hoppier with each passing year. At last year’s show, I discovered Elora Brewing Co.’s Lady Friend IPA and Maclean’s Ales’ Luck & Charm Oatmeal Stout, two fantastic beers that I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy many times since. What wonderful Ontario craft beer discoveries are in store for this year? Read on to find out!
The Ontario craft beer scene certainly seems healthy and ever growing. It’s pretty amazing what has happened in the last decade. This year, my most pleasant discovery of the show was Four Fathers Brewing Co., from just north of Guelph, which is a pretty wonderful part of the province for craft beer.
There is no such thing as a bad time for Russian Imperial Stout, so despite the almost-summer heat, I couldn’t resist trying their Pyotr Chetyre Russian Imperial Stout with Cinnamon and Vanilla and I’m glad I did. Hiding it’s 8.5% abv well, it was a welcome addition to the Ontario stout scene and was nicely balanced and not at all overwhelming, despite the style and spices.
On the other end of the abv and flavour spectrum - but no less a wonderful craft beer discovery - was Highlander Brew Co.’s Beerded Lady, a delicate but lively light ale that they somehow managed not to call a session ale, despite the rising popularity of the name. Beerded Lady had a subtle sweetness and a light hop finish that would make it a perfect summer ale.
Speaking of summer, Neustadt Springs Brewery brought their Sour Kraut raspberry lager to town, which is always a nice, tart treat. While you can sometimes find it Milos’ Craft Beer Emporium in London, the brewery in quaint and adorable Neustadt, Ontario is worth a visit if you happen to be heading up to Wiarton or Tobermory and need a nice place to stop for a break. The people and the historic brewery are both top-notch, as is the beer, though it seems in need of a marketing refresh to compete in the bold new age of Ontario craft beer.
Speaking of marketing and none-too-subtle segues, we have Cameron’s Brewing from Oakville, Ontario, who just this February rebranded and launched their bold and wonderfully simplistic new labels. Cameron’s beer has always been solid but I expect their rebranding will serve them well, just as Wellington Brewing did with their own bold rebranding and subsequent growth years before.
On the newer sider of the Ontario craft beer scene, we have Whitewater Brewing Co., from the Ottawa Valley. Interestingly enough, I first tried their Midnight Stout oatmeal milk stout at the tiny but wonderful Bayfield Wine & Food Festival in May. There is nothing tiny about Midnight Stout, it is creamy, bold and inviting and - god and LCBO bureaucratic processes willing - I’ll be thrilled to see it on the LCBO shelves this fall.
Just as the Georgian Bay Spirit Co. adds local flavour to make its product special, so too do the people behind Chic Choc spiced rum, who import their rum and then add a blend of nordic spices from the Chic Choc mountain region of Quebec. Smooth and happily not sweet, Chic Choc was another nice discovery and makes an excellent dark and stormy mixed with ginger beer or dark ginger ale.
That wraps up another London Beer & BBQ Show for us. Like Christmas, it was full of wonderful surprises, amazing scents and tastes, and fantastic people - and is also followed best by a nice afternoon nap. Cheers!