I made an epic 5 brewery crawl while in Toronto. Based on a friend’s recommendation, we started at Kensington for a flight (my only flight of the day). Each brewery after that, I went straight for full pours of each beer. It was quite hot and while Blood Brothers was one of my favorites of the bunch, I would not recommend visiting them on a hot day as they didn’t have any air conditioning. Part 2 of the day will be posted in a future post.
Kensington is a small tasting room in the Kensington market area. They have solid beers and I enjoyed most of what I had on the flight. I started with Tuckerbox, a delicious tart saison with notes of passionfruit, candied lemon, and a light tart finish. It was a nice balanced beer and one of the first saisons of the trip that didn’t taste like white wine. Comparatively, the fruited kettle sour called Convergence was tart and tropical with mild puckering tartness, nice creamy head, and a lightly salty finish. Both were quite nice
The pale ale was soft and had tons of tropical fruit and citrus hop flavor with a light bitter finish and a mild amount of haze. My friends both ordered this beer and they both enjoyed it as well. The IPA was a bit ore malt forward and the hops tended more for the piney and resinous flavors. It was bitter and dry on the finish and just attenuated enough to be a proper west coast IPA.
We sat outside on this hot day at Bellwoods in the patio that was mostly in the shade. I learned a long time ago that it isn’t a good idea to order a tasting flight when sitting outside in the heat so we each stuck to full pours here. The hazy IPAs and milkshakes at the table held up to the quality that I remember from my last visit a year ago. I ordered a beer called Runes, featuring simcoe and sterling hops. The beer had a nice mix of ripe melon and tangerine with low hop acidity and a mild lingering herbal bitterness.
Bellwoods continues to be a place to go for tons of hazy IPAs, sour hazy IPAs, and fruited milkshake IPAs. They also have a variety of barrel aged beers available to drink on site, some sours, and some big stouts.
To see the remainder of breweries from this day’s fun, check back next week for Halo, Blood Brothers, and Burdock.
Collective Arts is about an hour outside of Toronto so it is best visited on your way back from Niagara if you are going out there. It is a fairly small tasting room and you can tell that a lot of the people are just stopping by to grab a few cans and take them to go. If you are visiting Toronto you can easily find their beers around town on tap or in the LCBO so only the most devoted should take the trip out to the brewery. Even a few beers you can’f find in cans are generally available on tap somewhere.
I started with a taster flight before having a full pour. I got the gose and three IPAs to start. The gose was nice and complex with mild lemon notes, light tart finish and subtle funk. Of the three IPAs on my initial flight, life in the clouds was by far my favorite. State of Mind was a solid IPA with notes of melon and bubblegum with a bitter dry finish.
Ransack the Universe was herbal and dry with a prominent lingering bitterness that was a bit too much for my tastes. Life in the Clouds was creamy with prominent tropical fruit, guava, and grapefruit notes and a mild bitter finish. This is a solid hazy IPA.
I finished with a full pour of their Brut IPA. It was super carbonated and dry like you would expect but also prominently featured herbal hop flavor. Though I would have preferred different hops it was well made for the style.
Collective Arts had some solid IPAs but nothing was so much better than the other breweries in Toronto that I would visit the brewery directly again. The quality was in line with most of the other Toronto breweries. The tasting room had air conditioning and wasn’t too loud when I visited fairly early in the day.
Collective Arts is mostly known for their IPAs, both West Coast style and modern hazy so look for their IPAs in the LCBO.
I happened to be out in Goderich with friends so we visited the local brewery, called Square and later another local brewery called Cowbell not too far down the road.
Square is the only one in Goderich itself. Square has a small tasting room with no air conditioning. They had four beers on tap but I only had a full pour of the pilsner and hoppy pale ale.
The pilsner was fairly average with a crisp dry finish and light floral hops. The vienna lager I tried a few sips of my friend’s beer and that was enough for me. The beer had a dark cherry color and in taste was mostly burnt toffee and marshmallow. The toffee was dominant and a bit too burnt for my tastes.
Fog Day, the hoppy pale ale was nice and dry with tons of hop aroma and not much bitterness. It had notes of citrus and overripe papaya. The overripe flavors dominated, and were a bit off putting. Finally the black lager was quite good with notes of raisins, caramel, and mild roast with a dry finish. This one might even satisfy the stout drinkers.
Square is much cheaper to take beer to go in crowlers so if you are in the area for a while I recommend stopping by to try a few beers and taking your favorite home in crowlers. While I enjoyed the beers, the lack of air conditioning suggests that I probably wouldn’t return if I was in the area.
Cowbell is a massive brewery in Blyth, a town about 25 minutes drive from Goderich. They have a very impressive facility that suggests they are backed by some big money. It is a full restaurant and has its own big canning line so you will find their beers all around the Ontario area. The prices pushed me towards full pours because of how much they charged for a full 5ounce taster.
I started with the Abbey Bragott IPA, an IPA made with honey. It barely tasted like an IPA to me. The beer was bitter with prominent honey dominating and some mild bitter finish. There wasn’t a lot of hop aroma in the beer and I didn’t really care for the honey. If you are there for the big hops, you should try some other beers instead. The Boxing Bruin IPA, their core IPA, was good and resinous with prominent pine flavor and a good dry finish without being overly bitter. I had a can of this the day before visiting the brewery and it was similarly resinous with some prominent grapefruit as well. It is a solid IPA and worth trying if you want the hops.
The Mango Milkshake IPA was delightful. The mango was present but not overpowering or prominent. The lactose was similarly subtle leaving a creamy base hazy IPA with tons of grapefruit and citrus hop flavors. This was the crowd favorite of the day and my favorite as well. It is a very refreshing IPA. I finished with the imperial stout bragott, also made with honey. Unlike the IPA before it, the honey was not overpowering and balanced nicely with the rest of the beer. The beer had mild roast and notes of cherry, grahm cracker, and mild honey with a nice dry finish. If my husband had joined us he would have liked this beer quite a lot.
Overall Cowbell is an impressive facility and had a solid lineup of beers. If you are in the area it is well worth stopping by to walk around the place and experience a few beers on tap before grabbing cans to go.
My second set of breweries in outer Ontario Canada were all in Prince Edward County area, a small island known for its many wineries in part due to its unique terroir.
County Road Brewing
Immediately on walking up to County Road it had the feel of an upscale farmhouse restaurant with lots of wood in the decor yet open areas letting in plenty of natural light. I got to speak with the brewer while I was there and learned that they had recently shifted their focus more toward Belgian styles and farmhouse ales after discovering their water was better suited for this style of beer. From what I tasted while I was there, this seems to be quite true.
I started with their petite saison. It was dry and balanced with light spice character, earthy apricot notes, and grapefruit hops, with a mild bitter finish. I love how they took the classic style and gave it a hop kick that works well with the style. The standard saison is more true to style with notes of cracked pepper, light puckering tartness and a dry finish.
The pale ale was bitter and piney with a mild malt backbone. The gose was light and crisp with notes of lime and mild salt and a lightly tart finish. The version with added cherry was deliciously fruity and brought out the notes of lime even more prominent. The cherries also gave it a bright red color.
The biere de mars had a dry banana bread flavor with mild grapefruit, caramel, and light tart finish. I enjoyed this one a lot because it is a style I don’t see at breweries very often. The malts didn’t overpower the rest of the beer.
These statements are all about the quality of what I had on tap the day I visited. Sadly, the bottle of saison I brought back home from the brewery didn’t have the same classic style or level of attenuation, though things in the bottle are always unpredictable. The Biere de Miel was still great in the bottle and had a nice balance even if it tended to be a bit more sour than what I had on tap.
Biere de Mars
Barley Days Brewing
Barley Days has a good medium-sized tasting room inside with air conditioning and a nice outdoor seating area. I wasn’t very glad when I saw that they chilled all of their glasses prior to serving. This kept me from getting the full flavor from some of the beers because they weren’t warming up very fast. Still the beers were quite good so it would be worth picking up some to take home and serve in your own glasses.
Their indoor voice European pale was to me a pure classic west coast style pale ale with mild herbal hops, tons of melon and citrus hops, and a mild bitterness and minimal malt notes. Their loyalist lager was crisp and fruity with a nice lager character. The harvest gold was dry and mildly fruity with some biscuit malt notes, perfectly to style.
Their dark ale had some light roast and a dark brown color with mild English hop character, overall very balanced. I also tasted some of my friend’s raspberry hibiscus beer that was delightfully balanced with strong hibiscus and raspberry and a mild tart finish. Though I didn’t expect much from this brewery I was very impressed overall with the quality of the beers. Sadly the owner didn’t care that I was disappointed about the chilled glasses.
Indoor Voice hoppy pale
Prince Eddy’s has only been open for a short time but they had a solid lineup available and I tried 5 of their beers. Though they are newly opened, they have a good sized tasting room and plenty of seating. Their pale ale was creamy and minimally bitter with a light malt base though not a ton of hop aroma. Their IPA had low alcohol for the style but a nice soft body with juicy pine and citrus character and lots of flavor for 5%.
The white IPA has more of an herbal balance to it that overpowered it and gave it a strong bitter finish of puckering grapefruit. The Belgian yeast seemed to overpower the rest of the beer a bit too much. The stout was tasty with mild lactose and plenty of roast and caramel, nicely to style. Their cream ale is more English style or as my friend called it Canadian style cream ale. It was soft with notes of vanilla and light sweetness. I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would.
For such a new brewery they were quite impressive and hopefully will grow nicely. The IPA and cream ale will both help them to attract a following.
Parsons is one of the more established we visited and they had a huge number of taps in their mid-sized restaurant. Their rye pale was good and balanced but a little more bitter than I prefer, drinkable but nothing great. The coffee stout was mildly bitter and roasty with a dry finish. The coffee was very minimal and should have been stronger.
The Vortex Double IPA was classic English style and far too sweet and heavy on the malts, overpowering the hops. I didn’t care for this one. The two barrel aged beers I had were not very good. Though I found out later that they use a fairly low alcohol base beer, which gave both of them a really thin body.
The Legend, aged in bourbon barrels, was super hot with a strong alcohol bite and very thin body. There was minimal roast or sweetness with a smoky dry finish. The scotch aged version was even less interesting and was a pure mouthful of peat and smoke that overpowered the base beer.
Parsons was the least interesting of the day for me though perhaps i ordered the wrong things. Lots of their hoppy beers were too old-school for me.
5 Paddles is a small brewery that had only a few beers on tap and I decided to go with the ones that were most interesting to me since I was planning to hit a lot of breweries. I tried the West Coast IPA, Imperial Stout, and Cream Ale.
The IPA was one of the more drinkable beers made with Sorachi ace hops. Though I generally don’t like the flavor of the hops, it was a good mix of citrus and mild herbal character of bitter gourd. The beer had a light malt backbone and mild bitterness. The Imperial Stout was quite tasty with notes of marshmallow and roast with a sweet finish and minimal detectable alcohol. The cream ale was hazy and tasted more like a wheat ale with bright notes of citrus. While tasty, it wasn’t to style or what I expected.
5 Paddles is a small brewery that had solid beers. The 3 I tried were all done well and show that they have great brewers.
Even smaller than 5 Paddles, Man Antler is in an old abandoned building and run by a very young brewmaster. I only got to taste two beers there and they were both IPAs. The NE IPA was to me more of a west coast style pale ale because it wasn’t hazy. It had tons of fruity character from the hops and was quite tasty. The session IPA was also great though a bit thinner body and with more bitterness and pine with a crisp dry finish. Both beers were excellent.
When I visited they only had IPAs though other styles are in the works.
Williams Street Brewery
Williams Street is located in a small strip mall type area and has a good sized tasting room with bar seating and plenty of other seating. I did a flight of four beers when I visited.
The mango pale was a crisp pale ale with notes of candied mango and not overly sweet. I expected more fresh mango flavor but it was very good. The blonde was fruity and crisp with a mild hop kick and easy to drink. I brought a six-pack of cans of this with me to hang out on the lake and it was great for sharing while floating on the lake.
The Belgian table beer originally tasted and smelled like dijon mustard to me. Though as it warmed up it tasted more like stone fruit, I wasn’t a fan of the beer overall. The mustard notes never completely left it. The pale ale had a mild biscuit malt character with a base bitterness and mild fruit hops, a solid pale ale.
Everything I tasted was fairly low alcohol at Williams Street. They had a delicious blonde ale and the pale ale was quite nice as well.