Ontario Beer Stops for Fishing Trip

Discussion in 'Canada' started by biker30x, Jun 10, 2016.

  1. biker30x

    biker30x Aspirant (258) Feb 1, 2006 Illinois

    In about 2 weeks I'll be driving into Ontario for a 10 day fishing trip with family. We come in at Fort Frances, drive north to Dryden and then up to Perrault Falls.

    Last time, I stopped at the Dryden Beer Store and was amazed at the wide selection of Molson, Labatt, Sleeman (and for high-end craft) Alexander Keith. This time, I'd like better.

    I pulled a bunch of beers from the "best IPA in Canada" and the "Canada's top 100" threads and tried to run them on the Fort Frances LCBO site. So far, it looks like my best options are Fat Tug, Red Racer and Lone Pine. The Dryden LCBO has tons of "not available".

    If I understand correctly, the ONLY place (other than the brewer) to get beer in Ontario is the Beer Store or the LCBO (while some grocery stores in the east apparently sell, doesn't sound like it's made it to my route yet). Is there any other location in Fort Frances, or is LCBO my best bet?

    While IPAs & DIPAs are my favorite, I love trying other styles and especially trying stuff I can't get in Chicago. Are there any other Canada beers that I must try that would be at the Fort Frances LCBO? So, telling me that the best beer in Canada is "whatever" and is only available in Halifax will only make me sad.
     
  2. bdemarco

    bdemarco Initiate (153) Aug 6, 2015 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    From the looks of it, it's slim pickings out there. Here's a rough list of stuff you might like, but keep in mind they could be pretty old, who knows how fast stock moves out there.

    Fat tug
    Red Racer ISA and IPA
    Muskoka Mad Tom and Detour
    Sawdust city Lone Pine and Golden Beach Pale Ale
    Flying Monkeys Hoptical Illusion


    I don't know the rules for Americans bringing beer into Canada, but this is also a very good option for you. Check this out.
    http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-voyage/ivc-rnc-eng.html

    Lake of the woods is probably the closest brewery on your travels, though I haven't had anything by them.
    http://lowbrewco.com/

    Good luck!
     
  3. andrenaline

    andrenaline Poo-Bah (2,039) Nov 14, 2009 Ontario (Canada)

    Yeah you're coming into an area where the selection is sparse. What you and bdemarco identified is probably the best, though the Fat Tug is starting to get a bit old (unless they got a new shipment). LCBO is your best bet for craft, I would be surprised if there's anything worthy at the Beer Store. Fort Frances selection will be worse than Dryden. If you were coming through Thunder Bay you would have more options. Lake of The Woods will likely have distribution there but so far the only one that I've had that's better than average is their Blueberry Ale. Unfortunately, you won't be ticking off any top Canadian beers there, but definitely grab any of the ones bdemarco flagged if they're available.

    At least the fishing should be good though!!
     
  4. bylerteck

    bylerteck Poo-Bah (2,857) May 17, 2009 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    BYOB. You're venturing into a sparsely populated part of our gigantic country. Craft demand in those parts is extremely limited and the LCBO will have beers that represent that. Freshness in anything 'good' will also be questionable.

    Please don't let that form your opinion of the beer scene in Canada. There are tremendous beers coming out of many breweries here. Regulation and size are just impediments for us.
     
  5. Electros

    Electros Meyvn (1,071) Feb 20, 2007 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    This has the most up to date brewery list in Ontario:

    http://www.momandhops.ca/

    Also:

    thebeerstore.ca
    ontariocraftbrewers.com

    Craft options up there is probably low on selection, but most LCBO's and Beer Store's carry the bigger craft brewers like Muskoka, Amsterdam, and Unibroue. There is a been a wealth of beer releases from small brewers across the province in 16 oz. cans, so you might get lucky and hit a store that surprises you.

    Lake of the Wood, and Sleeping Giant are up that way. Both have a solid selection of brews.


    Good luck!
     
  6. biker30x

    biker30x Aspirant (258) Feb 1, 2006 Illinois

    Some great ideas. And as for thinking my route represents Canada or Ontario - I've been to Montreal & Ontario City (day trips, but still) you guys know beer! That's why this feels like I'm walking past a great brewpub without stopping. We're all bringing a case each of great Chicago area beer, so no tears. (More costs duty) But I love tasting stuff I can't get at home.

    I probably won't be able to get the crew to divert to any brewpubs off the route (they're Fishermen) but I'll hit the LCBO hard!

    Last time, the Dryden Beer Store was like a Pep Boys in a bad neighborhood, stocked with beer a gas station would be embarrassed to sell (but I got to see Chris Pronger's home rink, so...)

    I welcome any other suggestions

    Thanks
     
  7. Coronaeus

    Coronaeus Crusader (751) Apr 21, 2014 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    Yikes! I knew the selection in some of the out of the way LCBOs was lousy, but a quick search of what is available in Dryden is soul destroying. The only beer that I can see that has current stock there that isn't macro or macro owned micro (Mill Street) is the aforementioned Sawdust City Lone Pine IPA. It is certainly serviceable if relatively fresh. I'm guessing they have other things. The LCBO search functions are notoriously crappy.

    If I found myself out that way, I'd probably give anything by Lake of the Woods or Sleeping Giant a try if available, just to try the "local" stuff. The Lake of the Woods website seems to indicate that their beer is in both the Fort Frances LCBO and Beer Store:

    http://lowbrewco.com/

    I wish I could add to what has already been suggested.

    Good luck and enjoy the fishing.
     
  8. Electros

    Electros Meyvn (1,071) Feb 20, 2007 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    You could see if there is anyone on here that is near your route willing to part with some of there stash.
     
  9. brewseum

    brewseum Initiate (91) Nov 11, 2004 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Hey...I never expected a post this fresh and on point regarding these areas! My father in law always hits the Fort Frances LCBO for the obligatory box wine,and I've been slightly surprised each year with their increasing beer selection over the past ten years. I always bring SOME sort of special bomber,but this year I'm just going cans for easy transport.

    Thanks for the updates and advice here! Very helpful.
     
  10. Electros

    Electros Meyvn (1,071) Feb 20, 2007 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    Just out of curiosity could you update this thread with what you bought and your thoughts on the beers.
     
  11. Electros

    Electros Meyvn (1,071) Feb 20, 2007 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    Also anything from flying monkeys, collective arts, and nickel Brooke are good choices.
     
  12. biker30x

    biker30x Aspirant (258) Feb 1, 2006 Illinois

    Just a couple days till we head up. Packing a couple cases of cans - one from Chicago spots and another of what's left of a recent trip to Indianapolis.

    Don't know precisely when we'll cross and our leaders are impatient to get to fishing, so a swap won't work. But we'll hit the Fort Frances LCBO hard with a list from this thread, the ipa thread & the "100 best in CA" thread. I've been told here & by others not to rely on the LCBO search function. So we'll just be surprised by what we find.

    I'll definitely report on our haul and how we like it. The
     
  13. Coronaeus

    Coronaeus Crusader (751) Apr 21, 2014 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    You can also give the following website a try for searching the LCBO. It tends to better reflect current stock in the various outlets:

    http://drinkvine.com/

    That said, you are probably better off just bringing a list of things with you as you plan, and keep your fingers crossed.
     
  14. bdemarco

    bdemarco Initiate (153) Aug 6, 2015 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    I used boozewatch.ca which helped me find what was craft in the store he was going to.
     
    Coronaeus likes this.
  15. Coronaeus

    Coronaeus Crusader (751) Apr 21, 2014 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    This site is great. I hadn't heard of it before. Thanks!
     
    bdemarco likes this.
  16. andrenaline

    andrenaline Poo-Bah (2,039) Nov 14, 2009 Ontario (Canada)

    I apologize in advance for the disappointment you're about to endure. I'm hopeful that you're able to get something half decent. Please be sure to post your haul!! :slight_smile:
     
    Electros likes this.
  17. biker30x

    biker30x Aspirant (258) Feb 1, 2006 Illinois

    I went in with a very optimistic "get" list and fairly pessimistic expectations. We hit the Fort Frances LCBO. It had a walk-in cooler with all the beers and inside, the back wall was all "Canada Craft" and almost all of that was 16oz cans. I wound up with 10 or 11 different selections, bought 3 or 4 of each with a buddy and our total bill was just a bit over $100ca - very reasonable. Anyhow, in order of my preference (most to least) here's what we got:

    Fat Tug (Driftwood)(22oz Bomber) Spicy pine and rich malt with a hoppy finish. Poured a clear golden that usually says "thin" but this had a lush mouthfeel and excellent balance with just the right carbonation. We all agreed, this was a beer we'd buy again and again (sadly we returned home on Canada Day and everything was closed).

    Lone Pine (Sawdust City) Hops. Big hoppy nose, sharp hops hit first but are supported by a rich malty background that balances all of the hop punch. Surprisingly well balanced after the initial hop attack.

    Mad Tom (Muskoka) Poured a hazy golden with very little nose. A sharp hop front end with a solid malty spine. Rich and lush mouthfeel. Very nice.

    Hops & Robbers (Double Trouble) Hazy golden. The hops and malt were both there and very well balanced, but the star of this show was the background of citrus and tropical fruit. Wish I hadn't bought only two of these!

    Golden Beach (Sawdust City) Pours clear golden with a thin nose and a thin head. Really nice pale ale with a strong hop profile. I put it above Red Racer (which was sort of similar), because this one advertises itself as exactly what it is - an easy drinking summer beer for people who like big hoppy IPAs.

    Fire In The Rye (Double Trouble) Pours rich red with a spicy nose. First taste is bread-y spicy rye, then hops and finally malt. The rye beer lovers really liked this and the rest of us enjoyed it as well.

    Red Racer (Central City) Pours clear golden with a thin piny nose. Tastes like an over-hopped lager. The hop profile was mostly sharp spice rather than rich resinous and there was very little malt to balance. Not a bad session or lawnmower beer, but not something I would reach for first.

    Hoptical Illusion (3 Monkeys) Poured darkest of any of the above but failed to deliver the promised rich flavor that would indicate. Again, not a bad beer, just suffered mightily in comparison with the top 4.

    Sultana Gold (Lake of the Woods) (pre-filled Growler) Saw this at the general store near our fishing camp and had to get it to "send a message" that craft beer sells. The growler is a neat souvenir, the beer wasn't so great. Poured clear yellow. Much thinner than Golden Beach and less complex. reminded us more of the big boys (Miller, Bud, Alexander Keith) than fine craft beer.

    Forgotten Lake (Lake of the Woods) Only bought 1 can thankfully. Poured a hazy cranberry reddish purple. Tasted thin and fizzy with a hint of blueberry up front if you searched for it. Almost no finish at all. Not "bad" but certainly "meh".

    So, did we drink the best beers Canada has to offer? Dunno. Drank the best IPAs Fort Frances had to offer and would without question reach for at least 4 of them again (and again). We really enjoyed nearly all of what we bought and (perhaps the key test) we brought home much of the Illinois beer we brought up and almost none of the Canadian beers we brought. Even with the limited offerings of the FF LCBO (sadly no Imperials, Seasonal, or other limited releases) we agreed that Canadian IPAs are some solid stuff. WAY better than 3 years ago when we only hit the Dryden Beer Store where Alexander Keith was the best on offer! Getting home the other day and grabbing a sixpack of local craft double IPA at the grocery store, I really felt for Ontario, where you only get the beers that the LCBO and Beer Store choose to sell you.

    Thanks, Canada. And thanks BeerAdvocates for your help and guidance.
     
  18. bdemarco

    bdemarco Initiate (153) Aug 6, 2015 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    Awesome, yeah Fat tug when it's on, it's one of the best in the country as a regular. Glad you got a better taste than last time.
     
  19. dabeerbuddha

    dabeerbuddha Aspirant (288) Feb 4, 2016 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    Glad you caught a few decent beers. Besides the LCBO and the beer store we do get to purchase brewery direct. That really only happens in the bigger city centres however the fishing is better where you were. Hope you caught more than a buzz!
     
    Redrover likes this.
  20. biker30x

    biker30x Aspirant (258) Feb 1, 2006 Illinois

    Here I go again. Next month I'll be going up north fishing with the family. Our route takes us past Fort Francis, Dryden & Vermillion Bay (which all have LCBOs). I MUST have Fat Tug. I hope I can find Hops & Robbers Double Trouble, Red Racer, Muskoka Mad Tom, Sawdust City Lone Pine, Hop City Hopbot in at least one of those locations.

    My plan is to contact the Fort Francis LCBO directly and see if I can order 2 cases of 22oz Fat Tug for pick up on the day I pass through, then just pick up whatever else they might have. I'm tempted to also order Red Racer Imperial IPA (couldn't get enough of that at the Central City brewery when I was in Vancover last year). Will the LCBO be willing to take and fill my order for pick up on a specific day?

    Looking at the LCBO site something called Woodhouse IPA seems to be available at all the locations - worth it?

    Is there anything else that's a) likely to be on the shelf at one of those LCBOs and b) I shouldn't pass by if it is. While I focus on IPAs, I pretty much love most styles - so if there's something that's "best of breed", I'll happily pick some up to try.

    Thanks
     
  21. MarkMcElman

    MarkMcElman Initiate (123) Apr 12, 2018 New Brunswick (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    I friend of mine recently traveled to Ottawa and placed an online order to have a number of beers delivered to one of the stores in the city. These were selections not usually available there. I think it need 10 business days or something like that.

    Might be worth a look.
     
  22. dabeerbuddha

    dabeerbuddha Aspirant (288) Feb 4, 2016 Ontario (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    I thought of the LCBO.com route as well but he's talking about LC locations that are 20 hors away from Toronto, not the 5 hours Ottawa is. One of our TBay members might have a better guessimate how long orders take to get there.
    Besides there are only 11 Fat Tug online at the moment.