20 February 2017

Tour Durham Craft beer with the Beer Saints!

I strive to explore craft beer from around the province and this past weekend gave me a look into the amazing things happening just northeast of Toronto in Durham Region. While we tend to be hooked into the close by brewery or the latest trend on social media, it really is a good idea to hop in the car and trek outside your usual routine to see some pretty amazing stuff that is happening in Ontario Craft Beer.
Organized by my good friend, Paul the Beer Guy (Instagram and Twitter, respectively), the Beer Saints reunited to explore this untapped region of the province. His love of this area is evident and it was his hard work that resulted in a day I'll never forget. We made the trip to Paul's house and brought with us many craft beers from various parts of the province for the party and bottle share after the tour.
 Months in planning, days of waiting and finally we could head out to our first stop, Brock Street Brewing. Beer saints Away!!!

Stop 1 - Brock Street Brewing

Long touted by Paul as one of his favourite brewers, we made the quick trek from Michelle and Paul's house to the Brock Street Brewing Company to start the day off. Welcomed warmly as they tapped their weekly Saturday Cask day, we made our way in to check out their home that will soon give way to a new location downtown. Met by two of the owners, Mark and Victor, as well as engaging beer wizard/Brew Master Tanner, we felt right at home in this very busy local hot spot. Trying the Yarrow Pale Ale and talking past, present and future with these three passionate guys brought home why Paul wanted the Saints to visit. It behooves anyone who wants to experience the excitement and love of great beer and community to get to Brock Street and see that love in action. I did buy one of everything and am looking forward to experiencing all they have to offer. Onward we trekked...

Tanner is so very passionate about the beers he wants to and is creating.
Huge thanks to Mark and Victor for helping to kick off the Beer Saints tour!

Stop 2 : 5 Paddles Brewing Company

Just a stones throw away from our first stop was 5 Paddles Brewing Company, another of Paul's local haunts. A packed bottle shop greeted us as we came through the door and we made our way into the back to meet up with one of the founders/brewers, Spencer. Pouring from some bottles set aside for us, he regaled us with tales of building the brewery from scratch and even gave us a sample right from the tank of the latest batch of their signature IPA, In Your Face, which had just been dry hopped. A welcoming and engaging time, we again raided the fridge and hopped back on the bus for the journey to stop # 3.
Barrels on Barrels.
Paul the Beer Guy, 5 Paddles Spencer and a Happy Polkaroo.
Stop 3 : Second Wedge Brewing Company

A short drive later, we arrived in Uxbridge and yet another packed tap room at The Second Wedge Brewing Company. As we looked over the bottle selection with stars in our eyes, one half of the team that is the brewery, Rob, joined us and walked us through the back while relating the history of the building and their brewery. Joanne joined us  a little later and we chatted about their plans for the future and how the local community was so important to them. A constant theme from Saturday was how great it was to be involved with local artists and part of the city or region you are located in and that is what great beer is supposed to be about. They even cracked a bottle of the Porter that had been infused with Chocolate when Kathryn talked of her love of porters. We again bought one of everything and hopped back in the bus for stop # 4...
The Polkaroo's with Joanne and Rob, beauty folks!
That Tap list though!
Stop 4 - Old Flame Brewing Company
As the sun set, we arrived at Old Flame Brewing in Port Perry and were all struck by the beauty of the building. Located near the core, this young brewery is making waves locally and beyond. As Jack took us around, he regaled us of not just tales of growing a brewery, but the historic building in which it was housed. A real treat to see this passion again and a place to visit regardless of the season. Their cans are not your usual 473 ml, instead raising the bar to 568 ml, with the best bargain in Ontario Craft beer coming in at an astounding $2.95 a can. A brewery that not only wants to sell great beer, but makes sure its accessible to their fans at an amazing price says volumes about their commitment to the craft. Once again, one of everything from the fridge and it was on the road to dinner.
Jack filling us in on some local history and all things Old Flame.
A gracious and captivating host, I am excited to go back and hang out again!
Thanks Jack.
Stop 5 - Stuttering John's Smokehouse and a Surprise Visit by the guys from Manantler Brewing

Absolutely delicious and Crushable pale ale.
Time was running out on our tour and we were going to be unable to visit Manantler Brewing on our trip. As we pulled into Stuttuering John's smokehouse for dinner, we were ravenous and excited to try one of Paul's most highly recommended Durham eateries. When we sat down at our table, we were surprised to see Chris and Matt from Manantler not only bring some of their Belgian IPA, Hot Tropics, but that they were joining us for dinner. A surprise that Paul had planned all along, it was a topping on an amazing day. The portion sizes and flavours at Stuttering John's were stupendous and our group eagerly ate up both the food and the atmosphere, The guys from Manantler regaled us with tales of their journey and maybe Brett (Ifindbeerenjoyable on Instagram) and I gave them a few ides that could see the light of day...well, maybe not all of them, we are a little twisted sometimes.
It was a great way to finish the tour and we all made plans to visit this bustling new brewery soon. soon our plates were cleared and it was time for the short trip back to Paul and Michelle's for the next best part of a Beer Saint night, the exchange of beer saint gifts and the bottle share.

The Conclusion...
We arrived back at the homestead around 10 and cracked open the Sam Adams Utopia to kick off a night of great beer being shared by amazing people. The talk lasted long into the wee hours of the morning and the samples flowed freely as did the discussions of Ontario Craft Beer, life and everything else. We may have met because of a love of craft beer, but we became friends because we realised we had so much more in common. A huge thank you to Paul for putting all this together, Michelle for supporting him and hosting us in your home and to the bunch of Beer Saints who joined the tour. Robin, Jen, Dave, Tina, Brett, Danielle and of course Paul, Kat and Michelle, you guys made this a day I'll never forget.
Do yourself a favour, jump in the car and head out Durham way. The breweries are making some of the best beer in the province, the communities offer some great shops to visit and you will make new friends and memories along the way.
Until the next time,
Raise your Glass and your standards,
One Beer at a Time.

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