This article was originally published in the May 2015 print edition of Ottawa Magazine
The region is frothing over with breweries. Jordan Duff sips his way through the city — and beyond — to gather all the info you need to map out a year’s worth of suds-driven tours
Just a few short years ago, Ottawa was home to a mere handful of breweries and brew pubs. Today we have more than two dozen, with still more on the horizon before the year is out. We’re living in the golden age, my friends! This is a fantastic time for craft beer nerds and casual beer fans alike. And if you can’t find a personal favourite brew at your regular watering hole, visit the source to stock up. Seeing the magic happen at the brewery and talking beer with the owners is always a good decision.
Beyond the Pale Brewing Co.
Ottawa’s hippest brewery continues to churn out exciting experimental brews to complement their mainstays of Pink Fuzz, Rye Guy, and Darkness. I hope you’re thirsty, because their upcoming move to City Centre will include an increase in production from a 3½-barrel system to a 15-barrel system. Try it: If you’re lucky enough to visit the brewery when a barrel-aged treat is available, don’t hesitate! 5 Hamilton Ave. N., 613-695-2991. beyondthepale.ca.
Bicycle Craft Brewery
Passionate owners Fariborz and Laura Behzadi are the creative force behind one of the city’s newest breweries, where they apply their combined skills of art and science to a wide variety of brews. Try it: Ask for Base Camp Oatmeal Porter if you’re wanting a medium-bodied dark delight — or be pleasantly surprised by their delicious one-offs. 850 Industrial Ave., 613-408-3326. bicyclecraftbrewery.ca.
Big Rig Brewery
Big Rig has recently become Bigger Rig, with a second brew pub opening in the east end at Gloucester Centre and a Kanata production facility in the works. The latter will collaborate with other small local breweries to create some liquid gold. Try it: Keep your head up while shopping at the LCBO — their award-winning Black IPA will soon be available. 2750 Iris St., 1980 Ogilvie Rd., 103 Schneider Rd. bigrigbrew.com.
Les Brasseurs du Temps
An amazing Gatineau brew pub, BDT has been delivering fine pints and food since 2009. Work your way around the clock by ordering the Horloge: 12 sample-sized brews served on a round platter. If you can’t make it to the brew pub to enjoy the beer museum or their 250-seat waterfront patio, you can now find their beer in four-packs throughout Quebec. Try it: Keep an eye out for a double white ale with brettanomyces (a unique non-spore forming type of yeast): Brett du Hull. Best. Name. Ever. 170, rue Montcalm, Gatineau (Hull sector), 819-205-4999. brasseursdutemps.com.
Broadhead Brewing Co.
The hard-working bearded lads over at this Nepean brewery have made some moves this year, getting their Grindstone Amber Ale into the LCBO. The brew shop has a wide range of styles, including tasty seasonals and experimental beers. Try it: If you enjoy a nice roasted stout, bet on the Dark Horse. 14-81 Auriga Dr., 613-695-9444. broadheadbeer.com.
Clocktower Brew Pub
An Ottawa mainstay, this brew pub covers the centre well, with locations in the Glebe, New Edinburgh, the ByWard Market, and Westboro. They’re also on the baseball field this summer, teaming up with the Ottawa Champions of the Can-Am League. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a fly ball in your pint while watching a game at the Ottawa Stadium. Try it: Bytown Brown is my favourite regular, but be on the lookout for seasonals such as The Pumpkin and the Oyster Stout. 575 Bank St.; 89 Clarence St.; 422 MacKay St.; and 418 Richmond Rd., 613-680-5983. clocktower.ca.
Dominion City Brewing Co.
When this brewery opened in 2014, their popular beers sold out as quickly as they were brewed. Now DCBC has quadrupled its production to try to keep pace with demand. Visit this friendly Beacon Hill brewery, and bend an elbow at their handsome Kickstarter-funded tasting bar. Try it: You really can’t go wrong here, but Earl Grey Marmalade Saison and Two Flags IPA are musts. 5510 Canotek Rd., 613-688-6207. dominioncity.ca.
Kichesippi Beer Co.
Beer and sports are the perfect pairing, which is why Kichesippi partnered with local baseball team the Ottawa Champions and with the Ottawa Sports and Social Club (OSSC). Watch tap lists across the city for beer with the hashtag #SupportTwenty20. Formerly available only as Stock Ale at the Manx, 20 percent of sales go to charity. Try it: Their new Staff Picks series will see one-off brews designed with input from staffers. 866 Campbell Ave., 613-728-7845. kbeer.ca.
Located in the former Hard Rock Café building, this new Market brew pub pairs its craft beers with rustic decor, live music, and gastropub food — in short, satisfaction for all the senses. Try it: Give up your regular pint (just this once) for a refreshing summertime beer cocktail on the patio. 73 York St., 613-722–1454. lowertownbrewery.ca.
If you’re old enough to remember Hull’s Le Bop, you’re now (legally) old enough to visit its reincarnation as a brew pub. Gainsbourg brew pub gives thirsty Ottawa-Gatineau residents another local option. Owned by the people behind the Chelsea Pub, this is a further fantastic opportunity to sample the Quebec beer scene. Try it: For a refreshing brew, order their dry-hopped pilsner Zeste Nelson Sauvin. 9, rue Aubry, Gatineau (Hull sector), 819-777-3700. gainsbourg.ca.
Mill St. Brew Pub
Mill St. Brew Pub is aptly housed in a historic mill overlooking the Ottawa River. In addition to the gorgeous location and fine grub, it offers several brews available at the LCBO, plus a few Ottawa-inspired seasonals. For those who frequent the brew pub more often, inquire about earning your MBA (Masters of Beer Appreciation). Try it: Got ties to the Ottawa Valley? Tip back a taste of their Irish Valley Red. 555 Wellington St., 613- 567-2337. ottawa.millstreetbrewpub.ca.
Nita Beer Company
Welcome, Andy Nita, to Ottawa’s beer scene! Though newly opened in 2015, Nita is already planning to expand capacity and introduce a canning line. They hope to help their clientele navigate their beer selection by using a ski-rating system — from green circles to black diamonds. For the serious home brewers out there, they’re also planning to share their yeast harvest through the Members Of Barleyment. Try it: Hophead? Celebrate your love for hops with OPA! 17-190 Colonnade Rd., 613-688-2337. nitabeer.com.
Whiprsnapr Brewing Co.
Whiprsnapr’s hard-working attitude came in handy when it was time to open up in Bells Corners this past year. Brewer Ian McMartin returned to Canada from Germany and reintroduced himself to his college hobby: brewing beer, obviously. Soon he had compiled a repertoire of fantastic beer recipes, found some business partners, and opened a brewery. Try it: Visit the shop for a slew of brews, including Inukshuk IPA, UNF stout, and Carol Anne Irish Blonde Ale. 106-14 Bexley Pl., 613-596-9882. whiprsnaprbrewingco.com.
WORTH THE DRIVE
Ashton Brewing Co.
Opened in 2011, ABC is a family-owned and operated brewery in downtown Ashton. If you can’t make it out to the Old Mill at Ashton, try Quinn’s or Patty’s Pub on Bank Street: both serve up the delicious lineup of Ashton beers, including their creamy vanilla stout. The ever popular Blueberry Wheat will be available from May until September. Try it: Matt’s Berries, a summertime fruit beer brewed with berries from Rideau Pines Farm, will be unleashed on patios as soon as the summer weather permits. 113 Old Mill Rd., Ashton, 613-257-4423. ashtonbrewpub.ca.
Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co.
This short write-up can’t do Beau’s justice. The support this brewery has provided to fellow breweries, home brewers, artists, charitable organizations, and their hometown is heartwarming. And Beau’s beer warms everything else. Popular Lug Tread is available across Ontario, but the hike out to Vankleek Hill is worth the drive for insider tours, merchandise, and the chance to try specialty one-offs and seasonals. Always the innovator, Beau’s recently hired a resident chef. Bruce Wood creates feature beer dinners, writes recipe cards for beer releases, and is working on a line of Beau’s condiments to be released later this year. Try it: Treat your dinner guests, or yourself, to any brew from the Wild Oats Series. 10 Terry Fox Dr., Vankleek Hill, 613-678-2799. beaus.ca.
Covered Bridge Brewing
Founded by former home brewer John VanDyk, this Stittsville brewery opened in 2013. Named after a bridge down the path from VanDyk’s Stittsville home, Covered Bridge offers a wide range of local brews. Try it: If you’re into the dark, sweet, smooth stuff, CB brews a delicious Double Double sweet stout and a delectable maple porter, La Cabane à Sucre. 6-119 Iber Rd., 613-915-2337. coveredbridgebrewing.com.
Cassel Brewery Co. Ltd.
This eastern Ontario gem is quietly located between a train station and a bowling alley. This year is poised to be a big one for the brewery as they upgrade their brew house and expand the brewery after purchasing the neighbouring building, which even comes with a functioning car wash! If you can’t get out to visit (though you should), watch for their wares in the LCBO and at local establishments. Try it: The light, sweet Golden Rails is a delightful honey brown that’s easy to settle into for an evening. 715 Principale St., Casselman, 613-369-4394. casselbrewery.ca.
Whitewater Brewing Co.
Three friends, two names, and one dream — to open a brewery. Chris Thompson, Chris Thompson (no relation, not a typo!), and James Innes met while whitewater rafting in the Ottawa Valley with Wilderness Tours and, years later, took their friendship to the next level and opened a brewery together. Try it: All their beers are reminiscent of enjoying a cold pint on the water, but I believe their Farmer’s Daughter’s Melons will be a summertime patio hit. 22 Fletcher Rd., Foresters Falls, 613-582-7227. whitewaterbeer.com.