Ottawa Beer Scene.....?

Discussion in 'Canada' started by Easton70, Mar 4, 2017.

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  1. Easton70

    Easton70 Aspirant (212) Sep 26, 2015 Canada (ON)

    Hi everyone

    I am thinking about moving from Vancouver, BC to Ottawa for work. I'm originally from Scotland and have been drinking quality beers for over 30 years but Vancouver beer, and BC in general, has exploded into an amazing scene since we moved here 10 years ago.

    My question is, what is local craft beer like in Ottawa and can you recommend any breweries, pubs and beer stores for me?

    Thanks
     
  2. hoser

    hoser Initiate (0) Feb 17, 2003 Canada (AB)

    Beyond the Pale is a good brewery. Wellingtons has the most interesting tap list. The LCBO's have a good selection of Ontario brews. Great Lakes and Bellwood's are standouts in the Ontario seen but have had some good beers from Left Field.
     
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  3. polloenfuego

    polloenfuego Poo-Bah (1,887) Jan 26, 2013 Canada (NB)
    Society Trader

    I find Ottawa to be hit and miss on the local front. Beyond the Pale does some real nice stuff, but it has some real misses too. As of late I find Tooth and Nail has had some real success, and if I had to pick a brewer to watch, it would be them. In the east end, Dominion City has a beer called Sunsplit IPA that is a really nice take on a NE IPA (I think it should be called "Shut up and Drink Me").

    The craft bar scene is okay, and the best you will find is Brothers Beer Bistro. They bring in great beers from across Ontario (including Bellwoods, Great Lakes and some locals) as well as some great European and the occasional US beer. The food is none too shabby there either. There are other bars, including some local brewpubs and Craft Beer Market and Bier Mark't which are chains and heavily limited by LCBO regulations.

    The local LCBOs (essentially the best place to get beer in stores and a frickin monopoly) can be hit or miss on beers. LCBO brings in some nice beers from across Canada, the US and Europe, but then they honestly make life a pain in the ass by going through testing and then letting shit shelf rot in the warehouse. There are some LCBOs in the city that you can have good luck at almost always (Rideau, Barrhaven RioCan, Orleans Innes), but others are dicey.

    Hey, this is one man's opinion. I hope that more of my fellow Ottawans will pipe up and give their experiences as well.
     
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  4. bylerteck

    bylerteck Poo-Bah (3,353) May 17, 2009 Canada (ON)
    Society

    I hope you mean Wellington Gastropub.
     
  5. bylerteck

    bylerteck Poo-Bah (3,353) May 17, 2009 Canada (ON)
    Society

    Ottawa's beer scene as a whole has been blowing up in the last few years just like the rest of the world.

    Many breweries in the city and surrounding area are cookie cutter and not doing anything too good or doing things just plain poorly. Let's just say there is currently a Kolsch trend that really needs to stop.

    LCBO, Beer Store, and (a select few) grocery stores can sell packaged product. As pollo said, there is better selection at some stores than others, but there is no free market for booze, so what they say you have the privilege of buying, is what's available, and sometimes only in Toronto.

    Brothers Beer Bistro has the best taps and bottle selection by a mile, and there is one brewpub worth visiting called Tooth and Nail.
     
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  6. Seany

    Seany Initiate (166) Sep 27, 2005 Canada (QC)

    Heard BtP is opening a brewpub very soon. Anyone have any details on that?
    BtP and Tooth and Nail put out high quality brews consistently. Brothers is great, if you are willing to pay.
     
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  7. hoser

    hoser Initiate (0) Feb 17, 2003 Canada (AB)

    No I meant the strip joint next to Pandora's Box on Bank Street. WTF!
     
  8. bylerteck

    bylerteck Poo-Bah (3,353) May 17, 2009 Canada (ON)
    Society

    LOL
     
  9. KeKeKumba

    KeKeKumba Initiate (0) May 5, 2011 Canada (ON)

    These are basically the only places I go to now. It sounds like Bellwoods will regularly be on tap at Brothers now so that's excellent. They're a little pricey, but nowhere else in Ottawa has a tap list remotely close so whatever.
     
  10. mtomlins

    mtomlins Savant (949) Mar 12, 2010 Canada (ON)

    Welcome to Ottawa @Easton70! I moved to Ottawa from Vancouver just before the the craft scene exploded out west (I know, great timing), and I think Ottawa is at the same place now Vancouver was a handful of years ago. We are an up-and-coming scene, so you are coming at a really good time. As others have mentioned, Beyond the Pale (BTP) and Tooth and Nail (TnN) are the two best breweries and both are doing great stuff: BTP AromaTherapy is excellent and TnN's new BBA Imp Stout Fortissimo is fantastic.

    Beer Brothers and Wellington Gastropub are probably the best multi-taps, but there are a bunch of smaller, "locally focused" restaurants with nice tap lists (Bite Burger, Black Tomato, The Manx, Union 613, Craft, Hintonburg Public House, Corner Bar and Grill on Wellington to name a few). Ottawa's location is also a benefit. QC is a few minutes away for a second world of beers/breweries and restaurants that are every bit as good as what ON and BC have to offer. Vermont and NY are easy day trips, and Toronto is close and has a bunch of great traders for easy access to all the TO goodies.

    Bottle shops here are not like they are out West. The Beer Store is sh!t and should be avoided. The LCBO is really your only option and they do some things great and others terribly (there are entire forums on this topic). In Ottawa, the better/best beer LCBOs are Rideau/King Ed, Hunt Club/Merivale and Innes/10th Line depending where you live with other decent shops spread out.

    We are also a pretty friendly group, everyone except for @iguenard, no one really likes him much :wink:!! C-ya round.
     
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  11. iguenard

    iguenard Initiate (0) Jan 30, 2006 Canada (QC)

    Ok, the question was really Ottawa scene, but you would be crazy to not mention (like all you have so far) the proximity to the Quebec beer scene, with several d├ępanneurs offering hundreds of beers from around the province. Gainsbourg and Brasseurs du Temps add to an already increasing Ottawa scene, and there is promise in the Brasserie du Haut-Canada that should open its door this year.

    Both combined make for a hell of a good scene, with Burlington VT at about 4h driving distance, and Syracuse NY at about 3h30 it makes for an easily expanded experience as well.

    But the true wealth of the area is the people that make up the beer scene. We are the home to several world renowned beer experts, writers, bloggers, and their collective influence on the growth of the local scene, from a drinker's perspective, is fascinating.

    And we have killer strip bars. None of which (that I know of) have good tap lists (yet).

    Plus if you are lucky, you may see @mtomlins 's mom at a tasting.
     
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  12. iguenard

    iguenard Initiate (0) Jan 30, 2006 Canada (QC)

    Oh! and bring all the lambic @Easton70 !
     
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  13. WilderPegasus

    WilderPegasus Initiate (0) Dec 16, 2012 Canada (ON)

    The Cheshire Cat in the west end of the city has a great tap list along with great food.

    Evergreen Ales, a nanobrewery that is the smallest brewery in the city, is really good based upon a couple of their IPAs that I've tried. I'm eager to try their sours.

    Just outside the city in Carleton Place, Stalwart Brewery is brewing beer as good as any brewery in the city. Great IPAs and stouts.
     
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  14. portwood

    portwood Aspirant (209) Aug 20, 2015 Canada (ON)

    "And we have killer strip bars. None of which (that I know of) have good tap lists (yet)."

    Very helpful information, especially for the female readers out there.
     
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  15. Suprizzy

    Suprizzy Initiate (0) Feb 2, 2016 Canada (ON)

    For LCBO's the best selection is at either Rideau (by far the best) Barrhaven and then Carling/Fairlawn.

    The stittsville independent has the best Grocery line-up out there.

    Local breweries, Beyond the Pale, Dominion, Tooth and Nail are all killing it, but as it was said above they're not doing anything funky, just really good.
     
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  16. Easton70

    Easton70 Aspirant (212) Sep 26, 2015 Canada (ON)

     
  17. Easton70

    Easton70 Aspirant (212) Sep 26, 2015 Canada (ON)

     
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  18. MCBanjoMike

    MCBanjoMike Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2014 Canada (QC)

    I'm going to be in Ottawa at the end of the week, staying a little ways east of the Byward Market. From reading this thread, I'll definitely try to hit up Brother's Beer while I'm there and maybe I'll make an expedition to see Tooth and Nail and Beyond the Pale (I won't have a car, so I'd do both in one night and take a cab back). Is there anything else I should be on the lookout for this week while I'm there? Any good releases lately? I mostly like hoppy and Belgian beers, and I think I'll have easy access to the Rideau LCBO since it's close to the hotel where my conference is being held.
     
  19. Jerk_Store

    Jerk_Store Initiate (0) Feb 13, 2015 Canada (QC)

    Dominion City recently put out a string of great hoppy beers, Sunsplit, Filibuster and Northern Wish along with their Picnic Blanket. They've been relatively quiet since then (if anyone has feedback on their Canada Gose, I'd be interested to hear!). They have a Foreign Stout right now that I think I'll get a chance to try soon as well as a kettle sour :slight_smile: Perhaps @byronic has feedback on the last 2.

    Bicycle put out a Milkshake IPA, looked great on pictures but again, haven't tried it. For Belgians, your best bet is Tooth and Nail. Not a huge fan, but I think I'm in the minority on that one. Hope this helps!
     
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  20. mtomlins

    mtomlins Savant (949) Mar 12, 2010 Canada (ON)

    Agreed with @Jerk_Store, Dominion City put out some great IPAs this summer but they are long gone now (and without a car, getting there will be difficult). The reviews for Canada Gose (from that other site), are not looking that positive. Thanks for the heads-up on the Bicycle Milkshake IPA; I can't land one of the Bellwoods one's so I'll have to try this one one instead :wink: !!

    Something within walking distance would be The Manx on Elgin. It is a nice multi-tap pub with good, reasonably priced food. The tap list and food are definitely better at Beer Bro's (to each their own), but The Max is cheaper if you're on a budget.
     
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  21. Easton70

    Easton70 Aspirant (212) Sep 26, 2015 Canada (ON)

    Thanks for the heads-up. I'm in the process of moving now and have begun to taste Ontario beers. I drove from Vancouver a couple of weeks ago and stayed at the bottom of Bank Street in an AirBnB so I manged to taste a few including a couple of Beyond the Pale's beers in cans from LBCO (or whatever it's called). I'm currently back home in Scotland tasting the beers of my youth (Deuchars IPA for one) so I look forward to getting back to Ottawa in August.
     
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  22. Easton70

    Easton70 Aspirant (212) Sep 26, 2015 Canada (ON)

    Thanks for the feedback, mtomlins. Having spent one week in Ottawa before I flew to Scotland, I stayed close to Bank Street and sampled a couple of bars but you may be able to answer a couple of questions based on what I saw there: what is Clocktower Brewpub and Ashton Brewing like?....be honest.
     
  23. mtomlins

    mtomlins Savant (949) Mar 12, 2010 Canada (ON)

    I am a huge fan of Clocktower...for the wings (half-priced Thursday happy hour)! Every now and then, they come out with a decent seasonal, but I honestly would never go there for the beer. I would much rather go to a multi-tap restaurant. As for Ashton, I have very limited experience with them. They seem to brew safe, mediocre beer for the masses. If these were the only two breweries in my area, they would be fine, but BtP, TnN, Dominion have them easily beat and with our proximity to QC, NY and VT, I have no reason to drink their stuff.

    Safe Travels!
     
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  24. Seany

    Seany Initiate (166) Sep 27, 2005 Canada (QC)

    Will be in Ottawa Friday and was going to skip Bicycle, but looks like milkshake and On the Lam are both available. Worth a stop now maybe??
     
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  25. bylerteck

    bylerteck Poo-Bah (3,353) May 17, 2009 Canada (ON)
    Society

    Don't bother
     
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  26. Jerk_Store

    Jerk_Store Initiate (0) Feb 13, 2015 Canada (QC)

    Can't really vouch for them. Milkshake one is certainly on trend and hazy looking, and Lam has (I believe) "Vermont" in its description. Does it make tgem worthwhile? Worth a shot
     
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  27. Seany

    Seany Initiate (166) Sep 27, 2005 Canada (QC)

    Thanks! Not far out of my way, so will likely stop in. Will let you know.
     
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  28. iguenard

    iguenard Initiate (0) Jan 30, 2006 Canada (QC)

    Hey @mtomlins , @pushkinwow , we should give Easton a welcome tasting. Opportunity to open up some old locals he would have missed... kind of a history lesson in a few pints :slight_smile:
     
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  29. Easton70

    Easton70 Aspirant (212) Sep 26, 2015 Canada (ON)

    Sounds good to me. I'm pretty open for the next couple of weeks. Cheers
     
  30. bylerteck

    bylerteck Poo-Bah (3,353) May 17, 2009 Canada (ON)
    Society

    I had On The Lam at HPH. VERY malty for a 'Vermont' style.
     
  31. Jerk_Store

    Jerk_Store Initiate (0) Feb 13, 2015 Canada (QC)

    Good to know, thanks for the heads up! "Vermont" is being thrown around quite a bit lately...
     
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  32. steasdale

    steasdale Initiate (23) Aug 13, 2014 Canada (ON)

    .... only four hours from Vermont .... is the real selling point!
     
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  33. TheHammer

    TheHammer Poo-Bah (1,609) Feb 15, 2009 Canada (ON)
    Society

    At some point I'd recommend driving out to nearby Perth. The Perth brewery as a solid Amber and Maple Ale that I enjoyed, although I wasn't quite as keen on the rest of their lineup.
     
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  34. pushkinwow

    pushkinwow Initiate (0) Dec 20, 2006 Canada (ON)

    Sounds good to me...out of town for a week at a cottage soon (I know life is tough) but we can make something work...especially if @Easton70 brings back a nice single malt to share (or even if he doesn't).
     
  35. bylerteck

    bylerteck Poo-Bah (3,353) May 17, 2009 Canada (ON)
    Society

    Apparently this was a packaging error and what I had was NOT On The Lam. So maybe worth looking into.
     
  36. Jerk_Store

    Jerk_Store Initiate (0) Feb 13, 2015 Canada (QC)

    Random question, does anyone know how many microbreweries there are now in Ottawa?
     
  37. rejtable

    rejtable Initiate (84) Apr 20, 2011 Canada (ON)

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  38. Conrad

    Conrad Disciple (342) Nov 29, 2005 Canada (ON)

    About 18. I have been a beer geek in Ottawa for many years (40+) and am gratified to see so many new craft breweries. Some do not make it. Gone but not forgotten are Heritage and Scotch Irish. Stay on top of your internet searches for new names and locations. Or better yet, go to the annual Craft Beer Festival to sample their wares.
     
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