For as long as farmers in The Great Waterway have been able to work the land, there has been beer (those unfortunate dry years during prohibition aside, of course). The tradition of brewing in Upper Canada is centuries old, with the first barley seed arriving in Canada in the 1600s and the barley export boom during the late 1800s. In recent years, craft brewing has experienced a renaissance and for brewers and beer lovers, it is an exciting time to live in The Great Waterway. The geographical location lends itself to ideal conditions for growing barley, rye and even the humble hop, allowing brewers to include local ingredients in their beers.
With consumers reaching for spicy and hoppy India Pale Ales and refreshing, innovative seasonal beers, breweries here have responded enthusiastically. I caught up with Gananoque Brewing Company, Barley Days Brewery and Rurban Brewing to find out what India Pale Ales they’re most proud of and what exciting seasonals they have in store.
What India Pale Ales are you working on right now?
Kristina Miller, Gananoque Brewing Company: Bell Ringer IPA, a west coast-style IPA can be found on tap in Kingston, Toronto and Gananoque or at our brewery in Gan. Made with Canadian-grown Cascade, Chinook and Centennial hops, it is hoppy, unfiltered, unpasteurized and raw. We use local hops when we can, which are grown on a farm located 20 minutes from the brewery.
Brett French, Barley Days Brewery: Our IPA is actually brewed as a seasonal beer. County IPA is a very aromatic beer, with a highly fruity and floral aroma. Prince Edward County was once a known hop growing region, and in the past few years more and more hops are being planted. Our County IPA is grown with 100% Prince Edward County hops, and depending on the kind of growing season we’ve had, County IPA could be out as early as September.
A.J. Rorabeck, Rurban Brewing: As the first brewery in Cornwall in almost 100 years, we are excited to be in the final stages of getting ready to start brewing in our 10-barrel brewhouse. As early as August, an India Pale Ale will be ready. This fall, we will have an American Pale Ale, named “Late”, that could be said to walk the line into IPA territory. We currently source our hops from the larger producers, but there are local producers with whom we have been chatting, and we’ll be excited to work them in the future!
What seasonal beers are you excited about?
Gananoque: Our Rusty Shark Session Ale is exciting because it made from locally grown ingredients, including Red Fife Wheat, Rye Malts and hops grown and harvested at Ironwood Organic Farms. Part of our “Terroir Series”, it is light in alcohol yet retains a taste familiar to craft beers. We are also piloting a Rye Pale Ale and a Cream Ale, with the Rye Pale Ale made using locally grown rye.
Rurban: We plan on brewing 16 beers a year, a takeoff on a a traditional German seasonal rotation of beers. With four beers per season reflecting four seasons of the year, we can pay some Canadian homage to each.
Barley Days: Two fun seasonal beers I’m proud of are the Sacred Mule Sparkling Ale and the Eye of the Beeramid. Sacred Mule is a beer that was fermented with a sparkling wine yeast from Lighthall Vineyards. Eye of the Beeramid is a collaboration with Pyramid Farms, who specialize in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and Kombucha. When we first started talking about the idea of a collaboration the idea of a kraut beer or kimchi beer, it just didn’t have the same appeal as a Kombucha beer. This is a beer that you still get the health benefits of Kombucha from!
What do food do you like to pair your India Pale Ales with?
Gananoque Brewing: The spice in our Bellringer IPA pairs well Indian dishes, like a coconut-based curry. I’ve also made a jalapeno hummus with our IPA!
Rurban Brewing: IPA can be a tricky beast to pair with food, because of its intensity. I’d pair our IPAs with anything fatty and intense, like grilled red meats, Southern BBQ, cheesecake or blue cheeses. I’d also just as soon pair an IPA with itself!
Barley Days: My favourite IPA pairing would have to be with English fish and chips or anything really spicy!
Both Barley Days Brewing and Gananoque Brewing Company offer tastings and tours at their breweries, so you can try their IPAs and take home your favourites. Barley Days new patio is the perfect place to enjoy a flight or a pint and Gananoque Brewing even offers delivery to Gan or Kingston. Follow the breweries on Twitter (@barleydaysbrews, @ganbrewingco) for news on the launch of their seasonal beers.