Crafting local brews

In many ways, the growing popularity of craft beer is like going back to our roots, before Prohibition 100 years ago when small breweries were the norm.

Today, the resurgence of micro producers speaks to a desire to go both local and organic, to appreciate quality and ambiance, and to have choice – lots of choice.

There are more than two dozen small breweries in the Ottawa area alone, and in Ontario the sector has grown by more than 13 per cent a year for the past five years.

Since summer and beer are such a natural pairing, and since the Ottawa Beer Fest takes place at Lansdowne Park from June 16-18, we’ve highlighted some of the most-talked-about breweries around to tempt your palette.

Nita Beer

Nepean. One of the newer breweries in town, founder Andy Nita has a bit of fun by rating his beers according to ski hill difficulty as a way of marrying two of his passions: brewing beer and skiing at Calabogie.

Clocktower Brew Pub

The Glebe. One of the region’s oldest breweries, having been established in 1996 Clocktower is known for its “pop-ups” or special beers brewed for local events and people such as a Start Trek brew produced for last year’s Comicon convention. There are now six locations, but the brew house is in the Glebe.

Tooth and Nail

Hintonburg. This new kid on the block is quickly making waves. Its Vim and Vigor was voted the best pilsner in Ontario and the company won four awards at last year’s Canadian Brewing Awards.

Bicycle Craft Brewery

Industrial Avenue near St. Laurent Boulevard. Still fairly new (it started in 2014), this brewery has quickly established itself for its atmosphere and passion for brewing.

Big Rig Brewery

Iris Street near Ikea. Named after one of its partners, former Ottawa Senators defenceman Chris Phillips, Big Rig has expanded from its initial location to include an east end brew pub and a Kanata production facility. Try Big Boot Hefeweizen.

Beyond the Pale Brewing Company

Recently moved to City Centre. Brews include Morning goat: a mix of beer and coffee to “start the day,” while its Pink Fuzz is said to be a favourite among craft beer fanatics.

Perth Brewery

It’s a little out of town, but worth the drive. Or you can find Perth beers at several locations in town. One of the oldest craft breweries in the Ottawa Valley, brews include the seasonal and award-winning O Canada, a maple ale made with maple syrup from Temple’s Sugar Bush in Lanark.

Kichesippi Beer Co.

Westboro/Carlington (by appointment only). Another pioneer on the local scene, this brewery includes a brewmaster who was so enamored of German beers that he spent time in Bavaria learning how to make them. Its Wuchak White is a limited-time brew made just for patio season.

Dominion City Brewing

Gloucester. Around since 2014, Dominion has quickly established itself as a go-to craft beer spot in the east end. Try the Earl Grey Marmalade Saison, which is not nearly as fussy as it sounds.

There are plenty of other craft breweries to check out as well. You can find more here.

Not sure what type of beer you might want to try? There are pubs in town that specialize in craft brews, giving you many options to choose from. Here are a few:

Craft Beer Market

Lansdowne Park. Has more than 130 beers on tap and a full food menu.

Elgin Beer Project

Elgin Street in Centretown. A new spot, there are dozens of beers to choose from.

Brothers Beer Bistro

ByWard Market. A more curated selection of choices, Brothers is known for its craft beer offerings, whether on tap or bottled. Also offers bistro entrées and charcuterie plates.

Bier Markt Ottawa

Sparks Street. Just steps from Parliament Hill, this eatery offers more than 150 beers from over 30 countries. There’s also a new menu, sharing boards and live music on weekends.