Microbreweries are coming of age

Posted on: January 18, 2018

Brian Preston
The Travelling Sommelier, Portland, ON

Headshot of Brian PrestonHow often do we prefer to have a cool beer instead of wine to accompany certain foods, which frankly, go better with beer? These include many cheeses and very spicy foods where the wines would be blown away and the tannin and acid levels conflict rather than complement the food. We all know that craft beer production and producers have increased steadily in Canada over the past couple of decades. Many of us believe that this has to do with increasing prices of mass produced beers which, if you blind taste them, you would be hard pressed to identify them because of their lack of distinct taste.

The LCBO recently reported that craft brewers have seen a 45 per cent growth with a 400 per cent increase in sales since 2006-2007. I believe one of the main reasons has to do with the great taste and variety of beers that you can get for about the same price of premium mass produced beer.

Ontario has over 180 microbreweries at last count in 2017 and Eastern Ontario is a hive of craft breweries. I was over at a friends’ and he served me a Mocha Stout from a 330ml can that was labeled Perth Brewery in Perth. A family business run by founder Terry Steeves, his partner Cathy Brown and his son Jeremy Steeves. The Perth Brewing “u-brew” operation began producing beer and wine in 1993, and it is one of the largest facilities of its kind in Ontario. Inspired by the growing demand for local craft beer, the company recently doubled the brewing fermentation tank production capacity still allowing them to produce their all-natural beer in small batches including seasonal beers such as the current Citrus Wheat and Pistachio Dark Lager. Regularly produced beers on a rotating basis include:

  • Last Duel Lager: Easy drinking, crisp and clean
  • Honey Lager: Crisp flavour with a hint of local honey
  • Euro: Clean, refreshing European style pilsner
  • Bonfire Black Lager: Light bodied, easy drinking dark lager
  • Easy Amber: Well-balanced red ale. Smooth, rich and toasty
  • Hopside IPA: Dry hopped with whole leaf Amarillo hops for lots oʼ hoppy aromas
  • Mocha Stout: Intense with lots of coffee, chocolate & vanilla flavour

 

The beers are available at Perth Brewery (121 Dufferin St., Hwy 7, Perth), where they are available in 473ml cans. They have opened the Tap Room where you can have a pint, a tasting flight and take a tour.

Jeremy was kind enough to take me on a tour of the premises and I was able to see some batches of beer in various stages of production. One was in the wort stage with that lovely aroma of fermenting grains wafting into the air. Another was being racked ready for canning, which was a surprise to me as I had only ever seen bottling lines. I tasted the Last Duel Lager, Easy Amber and my favourite, Mocha Stout.

The Last Duel Lager was the first bottom fermented brew I tasted and while light and crisp, it had good flavour too, unlike some lagers you try that have little or no taste. Next was the Euro, which was less sweet than our North American-style Pilsners, and it left a clean and refreshing feeling in the mouth. It had a bit of that characteristic European bite, a pleasing package on its own or with some semi-soft German cheese and some medium Dutch Gouda.

The Easy Amber was the first top fermented beer I tried and it lived up to its billing and was far better than the mass produced ʻredsʼ Iʼve tried. This ale had a nice fine head and smooth texture that went down with a bit of caramel on the taste, but with a cleansing finish. Lastly, I had the Mocha Stout, my personal favourite only because of its unique chocolate and roasted coffee nose, its creamy light brown head, rich and smooth texture which was full of flavour. It pairs well with rich beef stews, chili, and even with a dark chocolate dessert! I will be back to try some of the other brews and I encourage you to take that short drive to discover this gem of a microbrewery.

The prices range from $15 to $19 for six cans to $54 to $56 for 24 cans (tallboys) depending upon the beer you select. Give them a call at 613-264-1087 before you head out to see if the beers you want are available. To arrange for a visit or for more information, go to www.perthbrewing.ca.

This article was first published in the January 2018 issue of Hometown News. For more articles from our January 2018 issue, pick up a print copy at a local retailer (find a list of locations here) or read our digital version.