The Ontario craft beer (OCB) industry has reached a maturity where we may now regularly evaluate trends within the market. The largest city in the province has even established a week dedicated to the product and lifestyle (Toronto Beer Week); small cafes to four-star establishments are choosing – and even devoting – themselves to tap local kegs over corporate; and the advent of the term ‘staycation’ has entered into travel and tourism lingo meaning more folks are wanting to taste, tour, and turn to local craft beer in their leisure time.
Although our province has inherited many brewing styles and inspirations from abroad, a trend of note this past year is all too Canadian. Could it be in the weather?
Resulting from our geography – and elements of our lifestyle built around it – we have arrived at the naturally successful and expanding trend in Ontario craft beer that is: Seasonals.
Think of a refreshing May 2-4 (Neustadt Bruce County Lager); a sweltering Canada Day (Lake of Bays Pale Ale or Barley DaysLoyalist Lager); our October Thanksgiving (Muskoka Harvest Ale); the festive holidays that just passed (Black Oak Nutcracker Porter) – or even icy late January (Kingston Brewing Co. Sir John Eh Scotch Ale); there is an Ontario craft beer to pair with each season. This trend speaks to an increase in demand lending to growing availability; and don’t forget, with a niche product quality must always reign supreme – all promising news for Ontario beer drinkers and brewers.
Overall, the industry has seen a wealth of exposure, in general, due to the advent of microbreweries popping up all over North America with an intelligent; passionate; and casual camaraderie that is easily promoted by today’s social tools courtesy of the Web; but more importantly by regional demographics demanding quality brew they can call their own.
Other Ontario craft beer trends include:
- Brewery collaborations: Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. and De Koningshoeven (Belgium) prepared a commemorative beer – Vrienden – at the request of the Dutch Embassy in Spring 2010 to celebrate the Liberation of Holland by the Canadian army
- Heavily hopped IPA (India Pale Ale) styles: Railway City produced a Double Dead Elephant this past year with twice the hops of the original; while Flying Monkey’s brews two aptly named: Smashbomb Atomic IPA and Hoptical Iullsion – which are starting to sell in the LCBO
- Local product and produce: Muskoka Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout used local hops and berries for this brew; while local maple syrup appears in Barley Days Sugar Shack Ale
The preceding was contributed by Kaylea McCarron - Visit Kaylea’s Foodie.ca archive
Want to start your own brewery? Visit us at startabrewery.ca