Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Food Trends: Ontario Craft Beer

The beer scene in Ontario is like finding a band in the 1990s before record labels began creating false indie labels or buying small record labels for the cachet.  Of course, you can say that Molson is already starting to do the former but this movement has not quite hit critical mass.

It is only a matter of time before Ontario has its own beer star gods like Garrett Oliver from Brooklyn Brewery.  Already there are some notables that have been very good drinking.  The Flying Monkeys in Barrie is an example of a brewery that is doing all the right things.  It is presenting flavourful and slightly off kilter and clean brews.  Their Smash Bomb Atomic will be in LCBO shortly after dealing with the label police there.  Having had it from their brewery and on tap several places, the citra hops used give a wonderful fruity flavour to a decent base.  Definitely worth a try if you like an India Pale Ale.  So if you are an Alexander Keith's drinker and used to their brew of IPA, give this one a chance.

Another brewery that will not be having anything in the LCBO for a while but definitely worth finding a tap is Spearhead.  Their first regular offering is what they are calling a Hawaiian Style Pale Ale.  It is a difficult to describe beer and one that we avoided when it first came out due to the marketing.  It didn't seem like a serious beer but I was really wrong.  The flavour of pineapple is there but not in the 1970s "polynesian" way.  It is subtle and adds a refreshing edge to an already good beer.  When talking to some of the brewers, it is apparent that their intention is to have beer that goes with food.  The beer is more of a sipping and engaging drink that helps and compliments meals.  I am really excited to hear that they have many more recipes that they will be looking at releasing shortly.

These are only my current favourite breweries in Ontario.  There is a revolution that has been happening in Quebec especially around Montreal.  The idea of supporting local and looking for the next best things has to extend to drinks as well.  Get out there and find some of these gems.  This time, I don't even care if they sell out -- I'm looking at you Fugazi.