Ontarians have long been lovers of beer, and for Ontario beer lovers there is no better time to be alive than today. In the past 10 years, the number of craft breweries in Ontario has exploded and the Niagara Region is not to be found off the wagon. Craft breweries, or microbreweries, are independently owned producers of artisanal beers being made in small batches with the utmost care. Already renowned as a producer of world class wines, the Niagara Region has fast become a producer of top quality craft beer as well. Let’s shed some light on five of Niagara’s microbreweries: The Exchange Brewery, Oast House Brewers, Niagara College Teaching Brewery, Silversmith Brewing Company, and Syndicate Restaurant and Brewery.
Silversmith Brewing Company
Silversmith Brewing Company opened its doors in 2011 and is located in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake. It is easily recognizable, as the manufacturing facility and brewpub are inside an old church from the 1890s on Niagara Stone Road. The interior boasts exposed beams and brick walls and the exterior features vine-covered brick and a small hops plantation at the front door.
Silversmith Brewing Company is known for its signature Black Lager. The Black Lager is a multi-award winning beer that conforms to the Bavarian Beer Purity Standards of 1516 which legislate that beer is to be made from only four natural ingredients: water, barley, yeast, and hops. Dark in colour but light in body, the Black Lager is mild with a flavour of toasted malt. It finishes crisp, clean and dry, the way a classic Lager should.
For more information, visit http://www.silversmithbrewing.com/
The Exchange Brewery
The Exchange Brewery is one of Niagara’s newest microbreweries, having opened its doors in 2016. It is located in the heart of the historic ‘Old Town,’ adjacent to the clock tower. The name ‘Exchange’ is a nod to the facility’s history, as the brewery is housed in the original site of Niagara’s first telephone exchange. The telephone theme is carried into the naming of the beers, which do not have names per se but are labelled by numbers or symbols that would be found on a telephone. The lower the number, the more approachable the beer, and the higher the number, the more flavourful and intense the beer will be.
The Exchange Brewery also stands out for making some barrel-aged beers (indicated by use of a symbol instead of a number) and for using local Niagara fruit in its production.
For more information, visit http://exchangebrewery.com/
Niagara College Teaching Brewery
All brewmasters get their start somewhere, and Niagara College is proud to offer programming that is fostering the next generation of beer makers in our region. The College’s ‘Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management’ program is the first of its kind in Canada. All beers are made by the students inside a 1500 square foot teaching brewery. Brews can be produced in a large 1000L system or in one keg at a time for small, experimental brews.
The Niagara College Teaching Brewery is always brewing something new and its beers are available to the public at the onsite retail store located near the new Outlet Collection At Niagara mall off the QEW. There is no shortage to the diversity of styles coming out of the program. Everything from Bitters to Bocks, from Ciders to IPAs, and Saisons to Porters can be found at the Niagara College Teaching Brewery.
For more information, visit https://www.ncteachingbrewery.ca/
Oast House Brewers
Oast House Brewers can be found in the big red barn on Niagara Stone Road, just northeast of East West Line. The barn itself is rich with agricultural history, having first served as a fruit packing shed in the late 1800s, and later as the original site for the Farmer’s Co-op Bank before being purchased by Oast House Brewers in 2011. Oast House Brewers was founded by a small group of beverage professionals (a brewmaster, a winemaker, and a couple of sommeliers) who, after working abroad and later returning home to Niagara, felt that Niagara was missing a quality producer of craft beer and sought to fill the gap.
Today Oast House Brewers features a commitment to producing beers of terrior (a sense of place, deriving from the land) by using yeast native to the area, onsite well water, local Niagara wine barrels and local Niagara fruits. Oast House Brewers is proud to produce Farmhouse Ales with a 100% commitment to bottle-conditioning their beers.
For more information, visit https://oasthousebrewers.com/
Syndicate Restaurant and Brewery
Syndicate Restaurant and Brewery is found on famous Lundy’s Lane in the City of Niagara Falls. This upscale restaurant is also a functioning microbrewery and some of the beers are used in the preparation of the cuisine. Syndicate Restaurant and Brewery offers a wide range of beer styles and is proud to showcase culinary delights that are prepared from locally sourced farm products.
All produce is sourced under the ‘farm-to-table’ philosophy and all beef, pork and poultry products are sourced locally as well. All beef product is raised without the use of additional hormones, is grass and grain fed, and is dry aged for a minimum of 14 days. Enjoy some of Niagara’s finest cuisine and best beers, all under one roof!
For more information, visit https://www.syndicaterestaurant.ca/
By: Michael Twyman, Sommelier and Wine Smart Guide for Niagara Vintage Wine Tours and Bootleggers.