It is a pleasure to host my friends from other parts of Canada in Niagara’s wine and beer country. Throughout my career in hospitality services, I have enjoyed the opportunity to work in different tourism regions across the country, and I have made many friends along the way. Now that I have found my new home in the heart of the Niagara Region, I am always encouraging my friends from across Canada to come and visit me because I am dying to show off all the great places Niagara has to eat and drink. I recently hosted my friend Sarah, a colleague who I met when we were working in the world-famous tourism sector in Lake Louise, Alberta. I was thrilled to take her to Bench Brewing Company.
Bench Brewing Company is located on King Street (Highway 81) halfway between Beamsville and Vineland. It is smack dab in the middle of an area that is colloquially known as “the Bench,” named for the plateau of land that sits halfway down the Niagara Escarpment before the earth hits the south shore of Lake Ontario. It is a modern brewery surrounded by grape farms and wineries. It is no wonder that Bench Brewing Company dubs itself, “the beer from wine country.”
Their taproom resides within the old Maple Grove School which originally opened in 1944. The room has a very open feel with large windows that let in tons of natural light. Seating is provided at large communal tables which allow you to chat with other patrons about the beers you are enjoying. There is also a long bar with high stools where you can interact with friendly and knowledgeable staff. Seasonally, there is a large outdoor patio facing a vineyard. Sarah and I were greeted by Kristen, a local to the Niagara area and a graduate of Niagara College’s hospitality program. We learned that Kristen also spent time working in Banff National Park’s tourism sector, just like Sarah and I. It was a delight to be served by someone who was so enthusiastic for what she does and the products she pours.
Now, I know that the main focus at Bench Brewing Company is the beer…but I have to confess it is the food menu that blows me away. Forget about burgers and fries—Bench Brewing Company is doing way better than that. The offerings at this brewery are nothing short of gourmet in flavour and presentation. I ordered the BBQ Glazed Slow Roasted Brisket, which was served with creamy smoked beans and pickled vegetables. Easily one of the best pieces of meat I have ever enjoyed. Tender to the max. A meal that will have you planning the next time you’re going to come back and order it, before you’re even done. Sarah ordered the Roasted Chicken with broccoli, romesco, pickled red onion, feta cheese, and toasted almonds. The chicken was perfectly moist and juicy and boasted a huge, gorgeous piece of cooked broccoli to top it off. A very balanced, very delicious meal.
The innovation of the beers on tap at Bench Brewing Company is seemingly endless. Some of their concoctions are being matured in old wine barrels from neighbouring wineries for added flavour complexity, and the brewery is very particular about the different strains of yeast, hops, and malt that they are using for each product. I am a fan of earthy flavours and Sarah likes fruity beers. I opted for a beer with a tea component. Yes, tea. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! The ‘Rooibos Trail’ was refreshing and soothing at the same time, with wonderful herbal notes and an aroma of pineapple and honey. Sarah chose the ‘Peach Grove’ which was a dead ringer for Fuzzy Peach’s candy. We were completely satisfied by both of our selections.
Bench Brewing Company has quickly become one of my favourite places in Niagara for beer and food. To check out this brewery, as well as other great breweries local to Niagara, join a professional and educational tour with Bootleggers! Call our guest services agents for more details today at 1-866-628-5428.