Canadians love their coffee. As a nation, we drink on average three cups a day. But in Waterloo Region, it is independent coffee roasters and vendors who are staking a claim as the favourites of local coffee aficionados.
According to Ontario Craft Brewers, there are over 80 microbreweries in Ontario and nine of them are located within the Waterloo Region. Waterloo Region’s Craft Ale Trail continues a 165 year brewing tradition that started in the 1830s with Kuntz and Sleeman Breweries. Plus Kitchener-Waterloo is home to the largest Bavarian Oktoberfest celebration in North America comprised of 9 days of all things hoppy! With all of this under two hours from downtown Toronto, Waterloo Region’s Craft Ale Trail is one of Ontario’s best kept secrets. Pick up your passport and let’s get stamped.
In no particular order, here are a few of the breweries I visited during my recent visit to the region. They cover the entire Waterloo Region from Kitchener-Waterloo to the Township of Woolwich.
Innocente Brewing Company – 283 Northfield Drive East, Waterloo – A must visit when you are in Waterloo. Brewmaster Steven Innocente honed his craft in Scotland winning many awards including best home brewer in Scotland. Doors opened in May 2014 and in just 2 years they were voted Waterloo Region’s “Favourite Craft Brewery 2016”.
From the best Pilsner I’ve ever tried to my personal favourite, a Sour Beer named named Berry Berliner, the brews at Innocente Brewing will keep you coming back for more. If you like it hoppy don’t worry, they have a double IPA named Two Night Stand that is sure to please.
Bitte Schön Brauhaus – 68 Huron St, New Hamburg – In the small town of New Hamburg you will find a small German-styled brewery with six rotating taps. Keep coming back here, because chances are good that what’s being poured is not what you tried the previous time.
My personal favourite was the Huron Street Hefeweizen, but they were also pouring a Maibock if you want a larger hop profile. Need a little snack to go along with your beer? Not a problem, as they serve up light fare as well as a small list of beer cocktails. A Shandy or a Radler perhaps for the designated driver?
Block Three Brewing Company – 1430-2 King St North, St. Jacobs – In the quaint town of St Jacobs you will find Block Three Brewing Company, a stones through from the Conestogo River and in the heart of Mennonite Country. What started out as a beer club has grown into a destination microbrewery. Focused on Belgian style beers, they also craft barrel aged and sour beers, plus many one offs for their rotating taps.
My favourite is the King St Saison and the Constellation which is a wine barrel aged Rye Saison. Feeling adventurous? Try the East Wind their Lime and Coconut Wit Beer.
Descendants Beer & Beverage Co. – 319 Victoria St North, Kitchener – Back in Kitchener you will want to schedule a stop at Descendants Beer & Beverage Company. With the largest tasting room I’ve visited so far, Descendants is a place to come and hang out with your buddies after. With music pumping in the background order something to eat and crack open one of their signature tall boys, Harbinger, El Buscador or Reynard the Fox. My personal fav is the Reynard the Fox.
Every day from 3 to 5 pm is Hoppy Hour so time your visit and enjoy your favourite beer on special.
This is only four out of the nine microbreweries in the Waterloo Region. Fill up your passport, drop in into one of the boxes at the breweries and you may just win a special prize from the Waterloo Wellington Craft Collective. That is a win win in my books. Even if you don’t win a prize you just sampled some amazing local craft beer!