Visiting Ottawa? Here's your must-try craft beer list
Dominion City is one of the craft breweries located in Ottawa. (CTV)
Published Friday, June 30, 2017 12:52PM EDT
OTTAWA -- If you're one of the 450,000 people expected to visit Ottawa for Canada Day, you might not to want to miss getting a taste of the capital's craft brewery scene.
While you can't take alcohol onto Parliament Hill, there are three separate events on July 1 that offer the chance to sample some of what the city has to offer: the Dominion Day party at the Experimental Farm, featuring retro games and a performance by singer Kathleen Edwards, the Brewery Market's Canada Day beer festival in the hip Hintonburg neighbourhood, and the Kanata Festival of Beer, which closes with a fireworks display, in the city's west end.
Of course, the long weekend isn't your only chance. Jantine Van Kregten, spokeswoman for Ottawa Tourism, recommends people go to a restaurant or pub where they can get a flight of beer to sample a range of breweries.
"If you fall in love with Dominion City's Earl Grey Marmalade or Beyond the Pale's Pink Fuzz, then knock yourself out. But this way you get to try a bunch of different tastes," she said.
One of the buzziest beers in town is Dominion City's Picnic Blanket, a raspberry rhurbarb saison released only for the summer.
Sasha Dunfield, who runs the website OttawaBeerEvents.ca, says that's her current favourite, and that she'd serve it with a raspberry dessert like a crumble.
Dunfield praises Ottawa's local craft beer scene for its family-like feeling.
"Although they are competitors, they help each other out and support each other. Also, of course, they are making fantastic beers. The challenge for small breweries is keeping up with the demand in a burgeoning market and getting their beer on tap when there are so little accounts... but it's slowly changing!"
In a bid to assist you in choosing which pints to try on your visit to Ottawa, CTVNews.ca surveyed some of the city's best-known breweries to get their recommendations for can't-miss beer. Here are the results.
1. Dominion City Brewing Company
Dominion City's Josh McJannett says he's excited about the company's new Peace, Order & Good Government brew, set to launch on Canada Day.
"It's a dry-hopped kettle sour that's tart and juicy with an almost Five-Alive citrus quality. We brewed it as one of our patriotic releases for Dominion Day, our annual July 1 craft beer fun-tacular," he said in an email to CTVNews.ca.
McJannett recommends serving it with a mango chicken curry to play the beer's acidity "off the tang in the sauce and the hop flavours working against the spiciness of the chiles," or with a cheesecake.
He says he's enjoying beer from Stalwart in Carleton Place, west of Ottawa, and is looking forward to Stray Dog Brewing getting up and running in Orleans.
"People love great beer in this city and they know quality when they see it. They've found a taste for delicious, boundary-pushing beer and their expectations about complexity and quality of execution have never been higher," McJannett said.
"We love being part of it."
2. Beyond the Pale
If you're a fan of the hoppy IPA-style suds, Beyond the Pale's Rob McIsaac says the brewery's Aromatherapy is his current favourite.
"Definitely a staple in my diet," he wrote in an email to CTVNews.ca. Drink it with "food that can stand up to it. Spicy food is good. Red meat. And definitely fried food."
McIsaac recommends checking out some of the tap rooms in Ottawa, including at Tooth and Nail (in the Hintonburg neighbourhood) and Dominion City (in the city's east end). He says Beyond the Pale is opening its own tap room close to downtown Ottawa on Canada Day.
"It's been a long time coming and we're pretty excited. We’ll have a bar and some seating inside, along with a patio outside," he said.
"This is a great time for beer in Ottawa. We were behind other cities for a long time, but have taken big strides to catch up over the past [five] years.... There's a great camaraderie amongst the brewers, who are all trying to push the market forward. The biggest challenge is to keep trying to make better beer. And to maintain the quality and service as we scale in size year over year."
3. Tooth and Nail Brewing Company
The biggest concern of most small brewers is a good problem to have: figuring out how to keep up with demand.
"We have an unbelievable and ultra-supportive customer base here in Ottawa, which makes brewing enough beer our biggest challenge," said Tooth and Nail's Matt Tweedy.
His current favourite at the brewery is Solo Mission, a single-hopped American Pale Ale.
"This version uses Waimea hops from New Zealand and has a wonderful balance with orange citrus leading the way to a silky mouthfeel," Tweedy said, advising it be served with carnitas.
Asked which other brewery is his top recommendation for visitors, Tweedy was stumped. "Not a fair question. [Too] many great beers and breweries to include."
Jen Beauchesne of Beau's, one of Ottawa's longest-standing breweries, says her favourite of the company's beers is a decade-old classic: the Lug Tread Lagered Ale.
"Tasty like an ale, crisp like a lager, so it’s the best of both worlds. [Twenty plus] awards, and an Ottawa classic now available across Canada," she said. "Soooo good with something off the grill from Ottawa’s Seed to Sausage."
Beauchesne says it's hard to choose just one other local beer, but visitors should try Beyond the Pale's Pink Fuzz or Tooth and Nail's Vim and Vigor Pilsner.
The best thing about the local scene, she says, "is how supportive the local restaurants and pubs are – you can find more local craft on tap every day. [The] biggest challenge is keeping up with all the new breweries opening!"