Beer, Wine & Spirits: 4 Degrees Brewery

Tasting with Nick Ritchie at 4 Degrees Brewery. Photo credit: Brian Preston.
Posted on: May 20, 2023

We had a chance recently to sit down with Nick Ritchie of 4 Degrees brewery, at opening when the place wasn’t yet rockin’, to do a tasting and talk about the line of beers they now make. When last I was there, it was to feature their opening with a few stalwart beers that are still popular and in the lineup. Beers like:

Livin’ North of 7 – which they describe as North of HWY 7 where you can escape into the outdoors to unlock your inner wildness, unload and find your true primal self. True North of 7 is an easy drinking Helles* Lager with subtle hoppy flavours and a crisp finish. *‘Helles’ simply means a bright, malty alternative that retains the crispness of a lager without the spicy hops found in a Pilsner. Like all lagers, Helles is made with a unique yeast variety, so it’s distinguished from ales during the fermentation process. 

Livin’ South of 7 – on the other hand represents South of HWY 7 embracing a world measured in city blocks and cross streets, a place humming with power and endless possibilities. True South of 7 was designed with the urbanite in mind and is bolder in flavour and colour, with amber hues and a smooth caramel flavour.

Frost & Wood ’55 – Known worldwide for manufacturing state of the art farming equipment and munitions during World War II, Frost & Wood helped to place Smiths Falls on the map from 1839-1955. Frost & Wood ’55 is an oak infused lager with 5.5% abv and 62 IBU. This is a tricky lager to make using 3 long spiral oak pieces to give just the right amount of oaking without overpowering the brew. They have done a great job and it is a balanced lager with pleasing craft beer balance.

Old Slys ’69 – Flowing through town and connecting communities together, the Rideau Canal has offered over 180 years of hometown pride and adventure. Old Sly’s lock station and all the others along the Rideau Canal are time capsules of technology and beacons of pride for anyone who has ever witnessed the cranking of the crab. Old Slys ’69 is a hoppy IPA with 6.9% abv and 65 IBU.

Hill 70 – On August 15, 1917, the Canadian attack to capture Hill 70 opened with a massive artillery barrage. The Primary objectives were taken in 5 hours. German troops counterattacked no less than 21 times over ten days. Each time they met a wall of Canadian bullets and shells. Canadian efforts kept large German forces pinned down in defense of the town of Lens. When the major fighting came to an end around August 25, 1917 Canadian casualties (missing, wounded and killed) were nearly 10,000 men but the Germans were expelled and the high ground dominating Lens remained in Allied hands. The Battle of Hill 70 is, unfortunately, one of Canada’s forgotten victories. Hill 70 is an easy drinking Belgian blonde ale that is dry and crisp with notes of apple, pears, banana, cloves and spice, and a sweet, fruity, complex background with a clean finish; 7% abv and 21 IBU. This one you can find in LCBO!

Trash Panda – A limited season run, Trash Panda is a high gravity Oatmeal Stout (“Gravity” refers to higher sugar content meaning more food for the yeast to consume and turn into alcohol). It uses Victoria malt and Chocolate malts and Munich light oats. It is dark in colour, and easy drinking with a smooth finish at 5.9%abv. It was gorgeous: deep dark chocolate cereal nose with a touch of caramel on the palate, full bodied but not heavy. Nick smiled with pride when I said that I liked it better than another locally produced version! By the way, ask Nick the back-story about how he named this beer; I shouldn’t give up family secrets!

Then there was Spunky Monkey Smash*, an American Pale Ale with another very creative original label produced by a local artist. *Smash IPA is an acronym for (Single Malt and Single Hop). Only one type of malt and one type of hop is used in an attempt to showcase the single hop variety. It was Citra hop and that light citrus nose and taste profile came through. It was medium yellow in colour with a fine mousse/head and it is a great, light summertime brew coming in at 4%abv.

Lanark Highlanders Rugby – A smooth lager, similar to their Helles Lager, with cereal grain and honey notes on the finish. 5.0% abv and 18 IBU. 4 Degrees Brewery also supports local causes and local sports teams as in the case of this local rugby club. They also support other local small businesses and carry Mighty Valley Coffee, roasted nearby and available for sale at the brewery! (340 grams for $21)

And for fans of St Patrick’s Day, we even tasted their seasonal Paddy O’Furniture, a golden summertime lager meant for the patio and easy drinking with friends. I even broke my rule and tried their green beer Northern Leprechaun, a light lager at 5.5%abv which was pale green and quite light and refreshing.

I was impressed with how Nick labeled cans of beer as we spoke. It looks like a hot dog roller and the label simply sticks and rolls around the can! I had never seen this method before. They also have new ideas and are currently hosting Trivia to support the Heritage House Museum every fourth Friday. Soon they will be starting Snack-cuterie and Chocolat-cuterie – a take on charcuterie boards to accompany beer tastings – and live music on Saturdays! Stay tuned as this is a happenin’ place, and you won’t be disappointed as they now have a large selection of beers to suit all tastes!  

4° Brewing Company
275 Brockville Street, Smiths Falls, ON K7A 4Z6, Canada.

Hours of Operation
Monday – Tuesday Closed for Brewing
Wednesday – Thursday 1 – 6pm
Friday – 1 – 7pm
Saturday – Sunday 1 – 6pm

Column by Brian Preston

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News