By: Mike Jacobs
Disclaimer: We cannot overstate how important it is that you do not drink alcohol and ride. You could hurt or kill yourself, or others. Zero alcohol is the only safe amount. However, we definitely think you should buy a bunch of beers from all over Ontario, take them home or back to your hotel and enjoy them while your bike takes a breather.
Ontario’s craft brew scene has exploded in the last five years—where there once were 30 or 40 independent brewers, there are now over 300, all competing to produce something truly worthwhile, different, or just with a better looking can. We’ve collected a list of our favourites on the best motorcycle routes in the province—what better reason could you have to go for a ride than to sample the best brews the province has to offer?
On the Georgian Bay Coastal Route, Trestle Brewing Company has made a name for themselves with their Golden Ale, a crisp clean European pilsner. They also serve a delish IPA, Helles Lager, Rye Porter, Imperial Stout, and Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout—if you like the bready and the bitter flavours, they’ve got you covered. But the best-selling feature of riding down to Trestle is their patio, looking over the bay in Parry Sound.
On the way to Cruise the Coast you’ll find Hamilton favourite Fairweather Brewing Company. Creativity, colour, and style are on tap here, as you’ll find some of the most captivating labels AND flavours in the province. Their Instagram does a great job of showcasing the endless novelties they’re able to conjure, but the best way to experience it is in person. Their Dream Pop sour ale, dry hopped with Citra and Mosaic is mouth-watering, and their American Pale Ale (Grace) and Stout with Coffee and Coconut (Sea Legs) are just music to our taste buds. Available in growlers too!
Now operating out of the Café Meteor on the Lake Temiskaming Circle Tour, Whiskeyjack has made a name for themselves with their spicy Witbier, and their American Pale Ale with hints of grapefruit. What we love most is the location here. Just walking distance from Millionaire’s Row in Haileybury, you’re bound to fall in love with the surrounding communities of Temiskaming Shores—a rare place in the North. Big enough to have plenty of options for places to stay, eat, or things to do, but small enough that people still smile at each other on the street. Check out the Presidents’ Suites for a local place to stay with plenty of character, or the Edgewater Motel.
These guys can trace the heritage of their brewery back to 1907, and it shows—a lot of care and craft goes into the five brews the Northern Superior Brewing Company regularly produces. Their Northern Superior Canadian Lager is the crisp, clean drinking beer that keeps them in business, but we love the 17 North Wheat Ale and the 11pm Traditional German Black Ale. Grab a couple as you start the Grand Algoma Tour, or on your way home!
All about Sudbury—we love the subtle nods throughout the Stack Brewing lineup that acknowledges the home of the Big Nickel. Stack is named after the Superstack—the second tallest chimney in the world, tallest in the western hemisphere. Their Saturday Night beer can only be a shout-out to Stompin’ Tom Connors legendary song “Sudbury Saturday Night”—ah, to be drinking at the Townehouse Tavern, wiping the foam off your lip and listening to Stompin’ Tom. Sudbury is a rocking town—take home a piece of that!
New Ontario was a brewery back in 1907 that burned down in 1915—however, these guys seem to have a better handle on things. North Bay is on both the Lake Temiskaming Circle Tour and the Lake Nipissing Circle Tour you can grab a couple Bear Runners—their blonde ales, or the Sap Sucker maple brown ale—when you can get it. Stop by their shop, you won’t regret it.
Located on Ride Lake Superior, Ontario’s only bucket-list ride, the Sleeping Giant Brewing Co. is probably best known for their Northern Logger, a Kolsch-style beer that is easy to drink. Their downtown brewery sells all kinds of amazing tchotchkes and there’s plenty of parking. We also highly recommend Mr. Canoehead, not least because of its throwback to that hilarious Canadian comedy routine.
Based out of an stunning old firehouse on the main drag of cottage country lakeside town Kenora, Lake of the Woods Brewing Co. is a Lake of the Woods institution and perfectly captivates what life on the lake in Northwestern Ontario is all about. On the Nor’Wester route as part of Ride Lake Superior, you’ll find their Sultana Gold a perfect drink for late nights on the dock, but we recommend Forgotten Lake, their blueberry ale, as the collector’s drink.
Deep in the Northern wilderness of the mining town of Timmins is Full Beard, a testament to hardworking northern guys and gals, and a great stop on the Great Legends Tour. Ontario 705 is named after the area code that covers most of the North, and we think that most people in the North would be happy to drink this brew too. We also love The Bearded Prospector, a cream ale that is smooooooth.
What we love about Manitoulin is the way time seems to slow down once you ride over that swing bridge—or take the big canoe over from Tobermory. The riding here is great, with quiet back roads and long leisurely drives to the middle of pleasant nowhere; but be sure to pick up a couple of the Manitoulin Brewing Co.’s Bridal Veil or Cup and Saucer brews before you land there. You don’t want to rush things.
Each of these breweries brings something great to the table, but in the end, it’s all about the ride—so collect your cans, toss them in the saddle bag and park your steed in the garage before you crack one open in front of the fire. You won’t regret it.