Bye-bye stouts, hello saisons and lagers! A sunny day on a deck is just that much more enjoyable with a lighter craft beer and brewmasters in South Eastern Ontario are happy to oblige, releasing a raft of refreshing and crisp beers that toast spring.
“It’s great to see the growth of the craft brewing industry in regions throughout Ontario,” says Cam Heaps, co-founder of Steam Whistle Brewing and Chair of Ontario Craft Brewers. “Breweries like the ones in South Eastern Ontario are an economic catalyst, stimulating development and creating jobs in our communities. Our goal is to eventually have a craft brewery in every city and town in Ontario.”
Celebrate spring with eight craft beers to try right now.
County Road 1 Blonde Ale and Farmhouse Saison 33 | County Road Beer
This Prince Edward County newcomer was co-founded by the Hinterland Wine Company. Here, each one of their four beers (a blonde, pale ale, saison and stout) is a new release. Nothing says spring in The County better than their aptly named Farmhouse Saison 33, a bottle conditioned 6.6% brew with a sweet nose and balanced hop additions. Their County Road 1 Blonde Ale has proven to be a best seller (so snap it up when a new batch is released!)
Ursa Minor Black Lager and Ursa Major Black IPA | Barley Days Brewery
Ursa Minor and and Ursa Major are two exciting releases from this Picton brewery. At 4.9%, their black lager Ursa Minor is everything you would expect in an easy drinking lager. Beer drinkers tend to have very strong feelings about black India Pale Ales, which can make for lively conversation when sampling Ursa Major, their 5.3% dry hopped brew. Galaxy hops are unmistakable in Ursa Major, but for IPA lovers, it’s star-studded perfection. As their names suggest, these two were inspired by the starry skies that grace Prince Edward County. Brewmaster Brett French has big plans for summer with four beers on deck. “The first being a fan favourite making a return, the Sacred Mule Sparkling Ale, made with yeast from local winery Lighthall Vineyard,” says French. Barley Days will also be collaborating with County Canteen for a summer release and on tap are two Kolsch-styled beers made with local hops.
Where to find it: in 341 mL singles at the brewery. barleydaysbrewery.com
Fruhlingsfest Golden Lager | Rurban Brewing
Andy Rorabeck has been busy since Cornwall-based Rurban Brewing opened last last year. “Since January, we’ve released the following one-offs: Solstice Cocoa Cranberry Oatmeal Stout, #Hopkisses English-style IPA, White Tail Brown Ale, Darkness in Light Pale Stout and just released Fruhlingsfest Golden Lager,” saays Robock. “We’ve got two more one-offs on the way and three more planned past that for the near future!” Literally translated as Spring Fest, it’s the Fruhlingfest – their take on a Munich Helles – that sings spring. Robock crafts this one traditionally and the result is a balanced and delicately malty golden German lager.
Where to find it: At the Rurban Brewing retail shop 416 Cumberland and on tap in selected locations in Cornwall, Lancaster, Morrisburg and Carp. rurbanbrewing.com
Valkyrie European Lager and Single Handed Simcoe | Stone City Ales
I visited Kingston’s Stone City Ales on a special day: all of their own beers were on tap (the Princess Street brewery often has guest taps). Of course, that leaves you with the difficult decision on what to bring home. You can’t go wrong with Valkyrie, a European lager they hopped heavily with Hüll Melon and Hallertau Mittelfrüh. Crisp and refreshing, it’s a beer also bitter enough to satisfy tame my IPA-loving taste buds. If you’re looking for something hoppier, pick up Single Handed Simcoe. Using only the aromatic Simcoe hops, it’s a simple (I’ve even heard it called humble) easy-to-drink pale ale. stonecityales.com
Spring Forward Belgian Saison | Wild Card
One of the things I always look forward to about a visit to Trenton’s Wild Card Brewing is seeing what one-offs they have on tap. One of Nate Card’s most recent successes is Spring Forward, a Belgian Saison brewed using haskap berries grown near Belleville. The beer’s refreshing tartness comes from the berries, which Card says delivers a pink lemonade sourness. This is a beer that is easy on the eyes, with cloudiness typical to a Belgian Saison, but with a pretty purple hue. In fact, the beer was so popular at Quinte Craft. Card will be starting another batch soon. wildcardbrewco.com
Where to find it: Wild Card is setting up shop at their new location at 38 Gotha Street in Trenton. Follow along on Facebook for updates.