Destination Drinking: Ontario

Written by on March 9, 2016 in Destination Drinking - 2 Comments

When someone walks into your office at 11:30 a.m. and invites you on a beer trip to Canada, say yes. 

Don’t ask questions. Just. say. yes.

I learned this lesson firsthand when the local sales representative for Esber Beverage Company invited us on their company trip to Ontario to visit five breweries over the course of 48 hours. It was at this moment my liver tried to voice some concerns but was drowned out by the sound of my heart screaming yes! — and the heart always wins.

Nickel Brook Brewery

NickelBrook Brewing

The Nickel Brook Brewery production facility is located in Hamilton, Ontario. The brewery, whose slogan is “A Miracle of Science,” shares the space with Collective Arts Brewing. This partnership has earned the facility the title “Arts + Sciences Brewing” — which I found pretty adorable. We enjoyed a catered lunch and beer tasting before taking a tour of the premises. Nickel Brook produces some fantastic, funky brews. The Green Apple Pilsner smelled and tasted like Green Jolly Rancher without the cloying sweetness and acidity you often find in similarly flavored ciders. There was talk of this beer joining Esber’s Ohio portfolio but I’m not equipped to make any promises. The Winey Bastard was another favorite from Nickel Brook. Winey Bastard is a 9.5% Imperial Stout created by aging the Bolshevik Bastard Imperial Stout in Pinot Noir barrels to make a beer that would please red wine and stout lovers alike.


Personal Favorites: Winey Bastard, Green Apple Pilsner, Equilibrium ESB, Uber Berliner Weisse

Waterloo Brewing Company

Waterloo Brewing Company is a division of Brick Brewing. Brick umbrellas over a few divisions including the Laker family of beers, Seagrams products, Red Baron, Waterloo Brewing Company and a co-pack business. Waterloo’s core lineup includes the Waterloo Amber, Waterloo Dark, Waterloo IPA and Waterloo Pilsner — in addition to a few seasonals. I got to sample each of the core beers and the Grapefruit Radler which was easily one of the best radlers I’ve had to date. This thing was made for cocktails. On our tour, we learned that Brick Brewing is one of the few breweries in Ontario to operate a bottle return program that brings used beer bottles back in for cleaning and processing. A bottle can be recycled up to 15 times using this process.

On our tour, we also learned that Brick Brewing is one of the few breweries in Ontario to operate a bottle return program that brings used beer bottles back in for cleaning and processing. A bottle can be recycled up to 15 times using this process.


Personal Favorites: Waterloo Grapefruit Radler, Waterloo Amber

 Grand River Brewing

Grand River Brewing 
Grand River Brewing is located in a historic building that was once home to an industrial knife manufacturer in downtown Cambridge, Ontario. Outside of the brewing facility, the space is fairly minimal with a large meeting room complete with a small wooden bar and antique church pews that line the walls for seating. After eating a catered dinner complete with goat cheese and prosciutto wrapped figs and IPA-cooked trout, Grand River led us on a tour of the brewery. While reusing yeast is something I’ve heard talked about fairly often in homebrewing, this tour was the first time I’d heard a “larger scale” organization talk about reusing yeast from primary fermentation for cost-saving and sustainability purposes. Very cool.

Grand River 2

Personal Favorites: Scotch Ale, Red Ale

Flying Monkeys Brewery

Flying Monkeys 
Flying Monkeys was the only Canadian brewery I was familiar with prior to embarking on this adventure, so I was pretty excited on the drive to the brewpub Saturday morning. Flying Monkeys is a family-owned brewery that operates on the motto “Normal is Weird.” Their beers are bold and adventurous, like the infamous Chocolate Manifesto Stout (think alcoholic chocolate milk in the best way possible) and the Arcadian Groove Canadian Maple Porter. All of the art and branding for Flying Monkeys is done by Head Brewer and Founder Peter Chiodo’s wife, Andrea Woods-Chiodo.

Flying Monkey’s fed us a wonderful breakfast while graciously allowing us to sample a lineup of both seasonal and specialty brews — I’m a little scared by how much I enjoyed a Chocolate Raspberry Stout at 9:30 a.m.  

Flying Monkey2

Personal Favorites: Aurora Heart, Hoptical Illusion (not available in U.S.), Saint Beatnick

Cameron’s Brewing

 Cameron's 1
The last stop on our trip was Cameron’s Brewing in Oakville, Ontario for a brewery tour and some equally entertaining games of Ping-pong. The brewery tour at Cameron’s, led by Head Brewer Curtis Jeffrey, was intimate and detailed. If you ever find yourself in Oakville, I’d suggest anteing up for the “Tour and Brewmaster Series Mixer Pack” (only $20) to receive a tour and a four-pack of Cameron’s beer for the road …or, err, home.


Cameron’s recently underwent a major rebrand and we got to view, and sample, a few of their newly launched cans. The Captain’s Log Lager, Ambear Red Ale and Cosmic Cream Ale are leading the vibrant rebrand while other beers from the Cameron’s portfolio will remain in bottles.

Personal Favorites: Deviator Doppelbock, Ambear Ale


Full disclosure: Esber Beverage covered expenses for this trip

About the Author

Abby likes beer - talking about it, taking photos of it, writing about it, but mostly drinking it. When she's not drinking beer, she's likely teaching cycling, doing yoga, snapping photos, or drinking a gin cocktail on the porch with her pup. @ahofri on Instagram, @AbigailLHoff on Twitter.

2 Comments on "Destination Drinking: Ontario"

  1. Robbie Donaldson March 9, 2016 at 12:31 PM · Reply

    Hey Abby – great to meet you and thanks for this wonderful write up!! Robbie

  2. Bill Babbitt March 21, 2016 at 8:28 PM · Reply

    I used to go to Toronto on business and could Never find a decent beer at any restaurant. Glad they are joining the craft beer movement. Hope the restaurants actually start to have them available.

Leave a Comment