OttBeerBloggers on the Roads of Ontario

At the end of July five of the Ottawa Beer Bloggers took a little road trip. The goal was initially eight stops that turned into ten with more recommendations as we went along. We ended up stopping at Lake of Bays Brewing Company, Griffin Gastropub, Muskoka Brewery, Sawdust City Brewing Company, Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery, Barnstormer Brewing & Pizzeria, LCBO Barrie, 5 Paddles Brewing Company, The Publican House Brewery and Church-Key Brewing Company.

Muskoka Brewery is Serious About Barrel-Aging
Muskoka Brewery is Serious About Barrel-Aging

We asked those who went a few questions about the trip.

Do you think the trip was too ambitious in regards to the number of breweries we planned to hit?

Chuck: Not at all. It was tight but well planned. That much activity over a longer period of time would have been exhausting though.

Brian: No, especially considering the route we had to take to get to our original destination (Muskoka) and home again. It would have been nice to get going sooner on our second day, but otherwise I thought it was appropriate.

Sasha: It was a great time but definitely was too ambitious once we got to the second day I was losing interest in the visits as I was tired and wanted to get back home.

Matt: Ambitious is a good way to put it. While I would do this trip again in a heartbeat, I think spreading it out over a third day would have been a good idea. We could have been much more flexible in how we did things and would had been able to fit in a couple more visits to boot!

The Fermenters at Lake of Bays Have Interesting Names
The Fermenters at Lake of Bays Have Interesting Names

Would you have liked to visit more breweries or less?

Brian: Frankly, I think Publican House was a waste of time, though I don’t think of us expected such a minimalistic/tiny operation. Other than that I think we hit the right amount given our route.

Sasha: I would say less for the timespan – I would have added another day or 2 to the trip and added a few more breweries maybe.

Matt: I think we could have dropped 1 or 2 stops without impacting the trip too much.

Chuck: No more, no less. Always best for a unique experience, so I’d pick a different subset next time.

You Know the Barrels at Sawdust City Have Some Tasty Treats in Them
You Know the Barrels at Sawdust City Have Some Tasty Treats in Them
...and They Have Nice Cans Too
…and They Have Nice Cans Too

Favourite moment of the trip?

Sasha: There were a lot of great moment but I’d say the visit to Flying Monkeys in general.

Matt: So many to choose from! Most of which had nothing to do with beer! Like with any good road trip, we came back with a bunch of hilarious stories and inside jokes. I will always live is fascination and be slightly fearful of the words “Left of eight”

Chuck: Behind the scenes at Flying Monkeys. The private tour was more inclusive and informative than other tours. Probably because more in depth technical questions were possible.

Brian: Had to be hanging out in Flying Monkeys after hours. I really appreciated the history (art, newspaper clippings, etc) that they had on the walls and the exquisite attention to detail in both the brewery and office spaces.

The Surprisingly Small Bottling Line Under the Flying Monkeys Brewhouse
The Surprisingly Small Bottling Line Under the Flying Monkeys Brewhouse
...and a Lovely View from the Events Room Above
…and a Lovely View from the Events Room Above

Did anything surprise you about any of the breweries we visited?

Matt: I was struck gracious and welcoming the breweries were. You could tell they were truly enthusiastic about their beers and they were excited to share their stories with us

Chuck: Their hospitality. I know breweries are typically friendly and there’s no doubt these were, but the welcoming feeling we got at each was cool.

Brian: Sawdust City. I mean, wow…I knew they were putting a lot of effort (and money) into it, but what I saw, even in it’s not-quite-ready state amazed me.

Sasha: Mainly how hospitable they were to us – a few definitely went above and beyond!

What was your favourite beer of the trip?

Chuck: Barnstormer’s Galaxy stands out. It was a great show of that hop.

Brian: Toss-up between Lake Monster (Lake of Bays) and Galaxy Widebody (Barnstormer). I wasn’t expecting the Lake Monster to be so robust and was surprised by how good Barnstormer’s lineup was given their “newcomer” status.

Sasha: I’m loving the Galaxy Widebody from Barnstormer – wish I had picked up more of them!

Matt: There were so many good beers on this trip that it’s hard to choose a favorite. If I have to choose, I would say the Widebody Galaxy IPA from Barnstormer is the first one to come to mind. The aggressive hops really paired well with my meal. I would love to see what it would be like paired with Indian cuisine.

There's No Shortage of Beer Options at Barnstormer
There’s No Shortage of Beer Options at Barnstormer

What was the most unusual beer of the trip?

Brian: Ooh Mommy without question. Even our speculation about what it’d be like wasn’t close. Good, but very, very different.

Sasha: Definitely the Church-Key Ooh Mommy Cremini Mushroom Ale.

Matt: Hands down, the Mushroom Beer from Church-Key! super earthy flavour but much lighter then you would expect!

Chuck: Pretty easy to pick Church-Key’s Ooh Mommy. Never had a beer made with mushrooms before.

Would you do a beer road trip again?

Matt: Absolutely! Sasha and I are planning one for when we head down to the East Coast next month!

Sasha: Absolutely! We’re going on one in 2 weeks!

Brian: Absolutely.

5 Paddles was One of Our Last Stops
5 Paddles was One of Our Last Stops

Did you bring home the beer you thought you would? Any surprises to what you brought home?

Chuck: Yes. Mostly because of the LCBO stop. But it was hard to pass up stopping in that area. They tend to get more selection than Ottawa. Or at least different selection.

Matt: I was surprised by just how much beer with brought back with us. Every stop provided a new brew worth picking up!

Sasha: Way more than expected – didn’t expect to hit the LCBO in Barrie while we were there too.

Brian: I wasn’t really planning on visiting an LCBO, but I’m glad we did. I found a few beers that simply aren’t available at home. Everything else was pretty much inline with what I’d planned on.

This is what We Brought Home...Well Most of It
This is what We Brought Home…Well Most of It

Want more details or more pictures from this trip? Check out the complimentary post over at For Barley or For Wort.


About OttBeerBloggers

A group of friends that found each other through writing about craft beer. @OttBeerBloggers

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