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The Merchant Ale House Restaurant & Brewpub

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The Merchant Ale House Restaurant & BrewpubThe Merchant Ale House Restaurant & Brewpub
67 Ratings
The Merchant Ale House Restaurant & BrewpubThe Merchant Ale House Restaurant & Brewpub

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

98 St. Paul St
St Catharines, Ontario, L2R 3M2

(905) 938-0725 | map

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 16 |  Reviews: 14
Reviews by sulldaddy:
Photo of sulldaddy
4.68/5  rDev +12.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Visited this pub while in St Catherines for Canadian Henley. Easy to find downtown on a one way street. Parking on street isnt too bad. Walking in there is a long rectangluar bar in front of door and several table chair setups around bar. The decor is all exposed hard wood with a nice stained grain finish. Some various breweriana and posters are used as decor as well. The front of the bar also has several large open windows facing the street which allowed for a nice breeze to come in as we ate near the front corner.
The beers are a great lineup of local/regionals and about 5-7 house beers, I only drank house brews and was happy with both of them.
Service was incredibly friendly and quick Also knowledgeable about the beers they offer and made suggestions. Some of the house beers were kicked during our visit or I would have tried more. We had great salads as a precursor to our meals and then I had a very good stirfry dish with great slices of fresh veggies and chicken. My wife was also very happy with her dish. Overall the service was excellent, food yummy and beers great. I will go every year we travel to Canadian Henley for sure!!
the only downer was I think the pub is closed on Sundays as we tried to setup a visit with 15 folks via phone call so try to visit on other days.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Shorthillsbrewer
4.16/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

A crafty little pub, good beer and tasty seasonals, cozy atmosphere and good food. Brewmaster is top notch and enjoys to talk beer.

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Photo of tso200
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%

Photo of Rback
2.8/5  rDev -32.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 2 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

Beer was a definite plus. A solid IPA & ESB. Food was slightly above average pub food. Atmosphere was like many other bars nothing special but nothing to drive you away. Service was poor. Waiter/bartender was either distracted or didn't want to be there. Food cost was outrageous, Won't be back

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Photo of Mr_Hoptimistic
4.14/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I was pleasantly surprised by this little gem. Tried 4 of their beers and loved each of them. Old Time Hockey Ale and Blonde Bombshell were probably my favorites. There was also a blueberry beer that came with actual blueberries floating in our pitcher, which was very tasty as well.There's something for everyone. Food was good, too. We enjoyed a mountain of nachos. Will return regularly.

EDIT August 2014:
I have returned to the Merch several times since my review over a year ago. My opinion has stayed the same. Their beers are solid. Drunken Monkey Oatmeal Stout is my new favorite, IPA is a closed second, and Old Time Hockey has a comfortable home at third. The food has remained consistent. And I enjoy their "guest taps" from other breweries to try out.

Wicked little hang out.

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Photo of hopsolutely
4.08/5  rDev -2.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

A very pleasant surprise in downtown St. Catherines!

Beer is of excellent quality, although several styles I wouldn't personally choose. The "west coast" hop finish of the ESB was delightful. Samplers of all draught taps (including non Merchant Ale House) are reasonably priced (for Ontario). Service is friendly and beer-knowledgeable, and fully understood my excitement over a stout named "drunken money"!

Was only able to enjoy samplers and sandwiches over a lunch time period, but would love to return for a full night's celebrations!

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Photo of Ralphus
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

I have been to the Merchant Ale House once every 2 years or so for the past 8 years. It's amazing how little has changed, which is a good thing.

The beer continues to excel. There are lots of different offerings, all in good shape and true to their styles. Most recently I enjoyed their blueberry wheat and IPA, while my friend was sold on the ESB.

Food has actually gotten significantly better. I had the shephards pie recently and it was the best implementations I've ever had - hands down. This is not your out of the box version and for the price and location I was completely floored. My friend had a pizza and he was gushing about his meal.

Service is good given that the place fills up pretty quickly. Staff are friendly and knowledgeable.

If you are in St. Catherine's - GO!

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Photo of DrDj
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Okay, this is my local. I was there the day it opened, and am very loyal. No bias here. John is a solid brewer, hindered only by the limits of his brewing set up. He consistently churns out great beer, and expands his roster with equally excellent brews. The IPA is a knockout, nice and floral hoppy (fuggles? goldings?) and the ESB is a solid representation of that. The others are great, too, I just drink the IPA and ESB most!

The food is also pretty good. It's basic pub fare with some added twists--platters of dips and bowls of beans and meat.

I don't eat meat so I rely upon my carnivorous friends for their positive evaluations (my picky sister was picky, but everyone else is happy).

They just expanded their menu and it's great, too.

Staff are also excellent. They're friendly, knowledgeable and all around great. As a testament to the Merchant's friendliness, they also have very low turnover, which means the staff know the beer, know the customers, know the food and know how to do their jobs well.

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Photo of beerbuddah
4.65/5  rDev +11.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Went here with my girlfriend today for a pint or two and a bite to eat. She got two pints of the blueberry wheat beer, and I got the cask conditioned ESB. We also got the deep fried pickles and a plate of chicken nachos. It all came to about 35 bucks, which seemed reasonable, and well worth it. The bartender/server let me try a few beers before I chose my pint. The blueberry wheat was great, although it was tough to get a sip from my girlfriends kung-fu grip. It wasn't too sweet, not an overpowering blueberry flavor, very good actually.

The ESB was great, tons of hoppy flavor, very little carbonation very fresh, nice and bitter at the end. Apparently they'll have a few of their beers cask conditioned throughout the year, so look out for the Drunken Monkey - the barkeep said it's a big hit.

Overall, great experience. We'll be back soon.

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4/5  rDev -4.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

went on a friday night to meet a fellow ba'er from canada to give him some bells hopslam. very nice place.. being an american it was nice to see no american beers on draft and just the local canadian kinds...the bartender gave some good size samples if i asked to sample..

menu was decent size for a small ale house..

the atmosphere was nice and calm. the waitress was very nice and polite and could answer some beer related questions i had for her.

parking was a little hard to get being i had no clue of where to park..

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Photo of headlessparrot
4.63/5  rDev +11%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

The Merchant Ale House qualifies as the only reason I returned to St. Catharines for a second work term (though this says less about the Merchant than it does about my fucked up priorities).

Located in the downtown area, spread over two floors. Brewing equipment and Merchant-branded materials on the wall (often bags of malt or hops leaning against walls). Old-time-y decor. I love the atmosphere--just a place to grab a few beers, have a meal, and talk. Dart boards available, as are televisions. Weekends tend to be a bit rough, with bands playing and occasional cover charges (and the impossibility of actually sitting down unless you showed up at 6), but weekdays are generally golden.

Quality and selection are good. The Merchant brews their own beer on premises, and has several other brews on tap. All micros, though their definition of micro is arguably stretched (i.e. they occasionally have stuff from Brick, which just barely qualifies as 'craft'). Two lines dedicated to cask-conditioned brews, though typically only one is running, and often times they're out. Look for interesting experiments with the cask beers (for example, there was a brief experiment with Niagara's Best Blonde on cask, dry-hopped--a huge difference in flavour). Their own beers aren't the pinnacle of greatness, but they're respectable, and often interesting. Aside from the usual blonde and brown ales, they've got a solid oatmeal stout and are often experimenting with flavours (i.e. ginger beer, hazelnut ale). They have a pretty close relationship with Niagara's Best Beer just down the street. No North American lagers to be found anywhere, thank the heavens.

Service is excellent. Very friendly and very knowledgeable. I've had conversations with chefs and bartenders; they know their beer and often have good stories (the tale of Steelback's attempt a few years ago to get a dedicated tap for their brand is worth a chuckle).

The food is much better than it has to be. In fact, it's delicious. My second favourite fish and chips anywhere, great pizza, and quality ingredients in general. They take a bit of a haute approach to pub fair, while still keeping prices reasonable (try Tuesdays, with a special $6 entrée menu). Fries are great, but greasy.

I cannot stress enough how much I love the Merchant Ale House--in a town filled with so many dives and college bars, it's gratifying to see a place like this establishing themselves so well.

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Photo of CanadaBlue
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I was in the area so I decided to pay them a visit.
It's a small brewpub right downtown St. Catherines. The area is nice - lots of people and other bars in the area. The atmosphere inside is cozy and welcoming.
There are quite a few local guest taps as well as four or five of their own.
I had Dark Wheat and the IPA. Both were OK, nothing exceptional, just regular OK. I tried a sample of the Strawberry Blonde - now that was intense and unique.

Oh - and the food was really good,

Well worth a visit if you are in the area!

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Photo of cloakNdaggar
4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

This place rocks!

Good Beers, the seasonals are always worth trying. They have a good list of guest taps.

Great deal on steak on Thursdays, I think it's like $13 for a steak dinner and a house pint.

Service is knowledgeable, friendly, and some of the server chicks are good lookin'.

Price is fair.

Atmosphere would have got a perfect 5 from me, but I get annoyed when I go there to enjoy a pint and conversation amongst freinds and then they want to charge me cover tfor some random band that may or may not be any good. Then the music is played way too loud for a place like that and that size.
Other than the band issue, the atmosphere is just right.

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Photo of BrewSomerville
3.93/5  rDev -5.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

One of my favourite spots.

Atmosphere is great, it has nice decor with the unfinished wood look. The Beer is brewed up stairs, and the tanks are down stairs. I didn't rate the atmosphere as great though, because of the bands that come in sometimes (not my thing). It's a small brewpub so the music really doesn't need to be that loud. Dart boards are there (upstairs & down) which I like.

The service is friendly and knowledgable about the Beers they have. Very hard working staff, I have seen one server take care of the whole place up stairs and down and I didn't even have to wait long for my Beer.

The selection of Beers is good. They have one thing on cask sometimes, usually Arkell Best Bitter, but it would be nice to see more cask ales (not that I don't like the Arkell Best Bitters, cuz I do). They have a handful of house selections and a list of other microbrews as well. The selection is varied and of good quality.

I usually just go for the Beer and sometimes a snack, but I know the steak is really good. The pricing is fair.

Overall, I like this place very much and I will be back soon.

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Photo of Sammy
3.88/5  rDev -7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

If you are in the Niagara Falls area, this is worth a stop. Before it gets dark, as its in a depressed tough blue collar town, considered the worst spot in Canada. The bar is very nice, with seasonals that have a good reputation. I lucked into the IPA. The food and the beer is cheap, parking is very easy, and service is tremendous. Some of the dishes were made with beer. John the owner and brewmaster is committed . There were about 12 guest taps, a good selection of what he can get, as he knows his craft beer. There was good variety and the place is limited to choice not for lack of trying.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Atmosphere here is grade A, what a nice little brewpub small setup with the kettles located upstairs and the fermenters and serving tanks tucked away downstairs. Old school real pub style unfinished wooden floors really liked the flow of the place, on the stereo the bartender was rotating a few CD's one of them being Sublime my favorite band. Selection here is great micros from Wellington, Big Rock, Niagara Falls Brewing, Arkell, Creemore Springs you can't go wrong with this selection plus they brew their own tried Old Time Hockey ale, Drunken Monkey Oatmeal Stout, and their ESB all very drinkable and solid all around. Food was delicious at lunch here one day had a sourdough steak sandwich with some fries and my lady had tasty looking burger on half of a French bread loaf.

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The Merchant Ale House Restaurant & Brewpub in St Catharines, ON, Canada
Brewery rating: 3.45 out of 5 with 67 ratings
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