Brew Tours officially launches and announces Brew Tours: Muskoka Edition for Spring 2016

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Starting May 21st 2016, the Muskoka region will be getting their very own Brew Tour.  The tour will showcase three of the main craft breweries within the Muskoka region:  Lake of Bays Brewery, Muskoka Brewery, and Sawdust City Brewing Company, as well as lunch at The Griffin Gastropub.​ So if you are ever in the Muskoka area and wanted a behind the scenes look at 3 amazing Ontario Craft Brewers, be sure to look into these tours.

Full release below. Cheers!


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BREW TOURS OFFICALLY LAUNCHES AND ANNOUNCES BREW TOURS: MUSKOKA EDITION FOR SPRING 2016.

TORONTO (March 7th 2016) – Brew Tours is excited to officially announce they are fully operational and starting this spring, they will be operating their first tours throughout Muskoka.Brew Tours officially launches and announces Brew Tours: Muskoka Edition for Spring 2016

Craft breweries have been exploding throughout Ontario over the last couple of years and with another 70 reportedly opening by the end of 2016, Brew Tours has noticed a void within the craft community. Similar to how winery tours are operated within the Niagara-on-the-Lake region, Brew Tours will be running day tours for local craft enthusiasts and tourists.

After a great deal of thought, Brew Tours decided to launch their first tour in the Muskoka community. Brew Tours: Muskoka Edition will feature Lake of Bays Brewing Company, Sawdust City Brewing Company and Muskoka Brewery. The tour will also visit the historic Griffin Gastro Pub for lunch. The Muskoka Edition has been designed to showcase the unique features of each brewery and how individually and combined they have done their part to continuously promote craft beer to larger audiences. Brew Tours: Muskoka Edition is starting May 21st 2016 and running consistently throughout the summer and into the fall.

Piers Simpkin, founder of Brew Tours is very excited for what the future holds. “Previously working within the music industry as a tour manager and booking agent, a common downtime activity I found myself doing was always looking for new local beers to try while on the road. Now that I have stepped back from touring and booking bands, I am very fortunate to be able to combine two of my passions into a new endeavor. Discovering great craft beers and creating exclusive touring experiences around the breweries has only produced positive feedback. Local residence and cottage goers to Muskoka this summer are definitely in for a great treat!”

For more information about Brew Tours, please visit http://www.brewtours.ca or follow us on twitter @brewtoursca (http://www.twitter.com/brewtoursca). We are also on Facebook http://www.fb.com/brewtoursca and Instagramhttp://www.instagram.com/brewtoursca.

A Ride Along with Brew Donkey

Brad Campeau is on a mission to make craft beer accessible to everyone in Ottawa. He’s the owner and operator of Brew Donkey, a start-up that delivers craft beer and runs brewery tours around the city. This week, I got a chance to ride along with Brad and get a glimpse into a day in the life of the donkey.

Our morning begins in the Brew Donkey- a modest single room in Maker Space North, a collective office space in the 250 City Center complex. The room is packed with boxes full of stickers, posters of various beers in the area and a few jars full of hops. Inside sits the donkey himself.

“It’s not very glamorous,” he warns me as we walked out to the minivan that he uses for all of his deliveries. As we get into the vehicle, he pulls out a piece of paper covered in his own chicken scratch with a list of beers for the day- nine different orders to be picked up from ten breweries.

Brew Donkey started in 2013. Brad was in Vancouver and Victoria and saw the accessibility to craft breweries and beer, and realized that was something that Ottawa didn’t have.

“You could visit eight or nine breweries in about a 25 minute walk, so three or four breweries a day was an easy walk. Ottawa’s not like that,” he explains.

In addition, there was wide craft selection in private beer stores that Ontario couldn’t match. Brad saw an opportunity to bolster Ottawa’s craft beer scene, and so he put together Brew Donkey.

Our first stop- Big Rig Brewery in Kanata. As soon as Brad walks in the door, he’s greeted with familiarity by everyone in sight. The most jovial of these is Brewmaster Lon, who declares that Friday is Boot day, and pours us each a sample of a new cask that he’s opened. It’s a mandarina hefeweizen, a new experiment by Lon.

“I think experimentation is super important,” Lon tells me, “but I think quality is even more important than that. Even if people are experimenting, good sound procedures and getting a good sound beer is still important within that process. I’m happy to try experimental beers, but sometimes people don’t adhere to enough quality control measures when they’re going into those things.”

His mentality is clear in the beer, it goes down smooth with a pleasant citrus touch to it that leaves the drinker wanting more. Brad picks up his order- a growler of Big Rig’s Black IPA, and we’re off to our next destination.

In addition to the deliveries, Brew Donkey runs brewery tours each weekend.

“The brewery tours were something that I initially envisioned as something to help our current delivery customers get better educated on the beers that were available for delivery,” says Brad “but at this point more often than not people are just using the tours as a great time.”

The tours go to three breweries in a given area of town, where the tourists get to go to the back room, sample beers and learn about the companies. While we drive on from Big Rig to Covered Bridge, Brad explains that the brewery tours had taken off more than he could have possibly expected. Almost every weekend, the tours sell out, he tells me over the clanking of empties in the back of the van.

After a short drive south, we arrive at Stittsville’s Covered Bridge Brewing, where we’re greeted by a smiling John Van Dyke, co-owner of the company. Brad picks up a Black IPA for the delivery- apparently they’re a popular item this week. After the beer is bought, I get a chance to talk with John.

“We’re getting a lot of great beers out there, which I think is only a good thing for people around Ottawa and for brewers.” says John. “I think it’s probably the best way that we can encourage people to start drinking craft beer and drinking locally. If we can kind of convert some of those people that are normally drinking some of the big name brand stuff over to craft beer that’s great.”

With some covered bridge in hand, we’re off to Broadhead Brewing.

Brew Donkey, like any business, isn’t without its struggles. Due to Ontario’s strict liquor laws, Brad isn’t allowed to hold any inventory on the beer. If he keeps beer overnight, he technically becomes a distributor, not a delivery service. This means that all beer has to be picked up on the day of delivery.

Sometimes, people place orders for beers that are sold out by the time Brad does a delivery day. Others think they can order beer for instant delivery at any time.

Another challenge is expanding delivery limits. Brad uses area codes to determine his limits, but many of the communities surrounding Ottawa are on the edge of massive area codes. Promising delivery to rural communities can be difficult, especially considering most people will only order a few beers.

Today, Brad’s deliveries will start on the east end, but I can’t tag along that far. There’s only two more breweries to go before he drops me off.

The first of these is Broadhead, a bustling brewery with DIY equipment and a handful of people seemingly on their lunch break picking up some beers. Here, Brad hands in a couple boxes full of empties. If you order from Brew Donkey, he’ll bring your craft empties back to the breweries as well. After giving in $100 worth of empties, he grabs a growler and a can and we’re off to Nita Beer.

Nita is a new company off of Collonade drive. Brad tells me that they’re targeted at creating beer for the active sporting community. Upon arrival, it becomes clear what he means. Their beers are each labeled with skiing difficulty signs according to how heavy their flavour is .

Andy Nita is the owner of Nita Beer. When we arrive, he has just finished updating the new Brew Donkey online store with a trio of new stouts, Perfectum, Omne, and Trium.

“We released three stouts based on good things come in threes,” says Nita “The Trium one I like the best, it’s actually a spiced stout that has cloves and cinnamon in it. The cinnamon cloves was kind of like ‘well there to be a lot of those ingredients in Irish cooking, so let’s fire it in and see what happens’”

We pick up a growler of their OPA, an IPA and hit the road once more. After Brad drops me off, he’s going to swing by a pub to meet with an Ashton Brewing Company representative, and then off to the Clocktower before working his way to the East end.

Once all of the beers are picked up, Brad will begin his deliveries in the evening, and then do it all again on the next delivery day.

As promised, the day wasn’t particularly glamorous but it allowed me a sneak look inside of one of the most exciting aspects of Ottawa’s growing beer community. Brad says that Brew Donkey has been well received by the small population that know of it. The brewers themselves have nothing but praise for him.

“It’s really good for us,” says John from Covered Bridge, “People in the east end can try our stuff even if we’re not on tap there, and that just creates more demand for us, so yeah it’s a good thing.”

Big Rig’s Brewmaster Lon was even more enthusiastic.

“He is the Don Quixote of craft beer. He is Don Quixote on a donkey, driving beer to the windmill every day, it’s beautiful,” Lon smiles “He’s bringing beer to the people.”

The Northumberland Hill Brewery

During my trip to Cobourg, I decided to swing by the 9 week old Northumberland Hill Brewery. The brewery is located at 1024 Division St, in a small unit just off the main street. Upon arriving at the brewery, I was greeted by two gentlemen, one being Rick Bailey, the brewmaster and owner. Rick, who was very busy helping the flood of customers walking into the retail area of the brewery, was very friendly and was able to talk to me about the brewery and business inbetween helping others.

The brewery has a small footprint but utilizes the area very well. Upon entering, you will notice the bottle fridge, which was full with 5 beer selections. As the brewery is very new, things are slowly starting to come together. The retail area is being built, where they will offer flights, glassware, and apparel. The sampling area was a bar top infront of a large chalkboard which displayed all the brewery news, it also displayed beer that are coming soon and what they are currently sampling. During my time there, I sampled all their offerings, all of which were very different and unique.

When the brewery died down, Rick took me into the brewhouse. The brewhouse uses 300L tanks, which after the brewing process, ends up with about 250L of beer per batch. Though the brewery isn’t large, they have a wide range of beers that they are currently offering, and the list is always growing. Northumberland Hills Brewery (NHB) has truly been found by the locals. During my time there, the customers never stopped coming in, and Rick tells me the brewery was busy all weekend. Its great location combined with their well balanced beers, will surely make for a successful combination.

I wish I had a chance to spend more time there and speak to Rick longer, but my short time there has me wanting to go back. With their ever growing new beers being brewed, you’ll be sure to get something new everytime you head into the brewery. So be sure to head over to Northumberland Hill Brewery and pay the guys a visit, you won’t be disappointed.