COLUMN BY BRIAN PRESTON.
The Travelling Sommelier, Portland, ON at 613-272-3129, firstname.lastname@example.org
This fall I discovered Bridge Masters Brewery in Perth at 29 Beckwith Street East after visiting the Perth Royal Canadian Legion across the street. There was this lovely building with a patio and tables by the old Bridge Master’s house alongside the Tay River and Canada’s oldest swing bridge. I was greeted by Jaana, the General Manager, and met the brewmaster, Brendan Cline, working hard with the vats where you could smell the malts and brewing process going on for the next batches of brew. The brewery opened in April 2023 by owner and sommelier, Peter Blier, in what used to be the old Wampole Pharmaceutical Building, known for cod liver oil, etc., and with very handy shipping by the Tay River next door! This has turned another historical place into an added stop on the Perth Walking Tours that the town can be proud of.
Now let’s get into the beers! First, I tried their first and lightest beer, Walk Don’t Run at 4.7%abv, a German style Pils (pilsner): straw to pale in color with a malty sweetness in aroma and flavor and just the right touch of hop bitterness with Noble-type hop aroma and flavor. Brendan uses Pilsner MalZ common to German beers like Pils and IPAs known for its subtle sweetness, stable haze protein and always good in winter sippers. Other hops he uses include North American Simcoe, Citra, New Zealand Nelson and Galaxy, along with some British and Canadian malts. Each adds a different taste and textural quality to the beers. Go to their website to read the labels with the stories behind the labels on the cans. Better yet, visit and buy them as I was quite impressed by Brendan’s mastery of the brewing arts and the variety of brews he makes.
Next up was Steamer St Louis’ Cream Ale, a smooth rendition true to a cream ale style that I like. Then it was on to Little Red Wagon Amber Ale at 5.5%abv, with a rich, malty backbone displaying complex flavours of biscuit, toffee, and hints of dark fruit that showcase the brewmaster’s skill. Lastly I tried the Raspberry Social, a Raspberry Hibiscus Wheat beer at 4.7%abv. If you want something unique and very pleasing as a dessert beer on its own or with dark chocolate, this is the one! There are other beers on their website so check it out.
While I was there, Brendan was making ‘Wee Heavy’ style beer he is naming ‘Kilty Pleasures,’ a Scottish peat smoked malt barley strong beer. I can hardly wait to try this one. On the horizon he will be putting out a Stout with chocolate espresso profile, and a West Coast IPA Keller beer. He has enough going on without ranging into Seasonals just yet as wants to meet his customer demand with his production capacity.
They are open 7 days a week with a restaurant menu featuring, for example, Thursday pop-up dinners where pints are $7 with a $5 munchie menu – 6 types of hot dogs by Chef Jamie Troutman of Stone Cellar. They also serve Perth’s own Top Shelf Distillery drinks and wines by Scheuermann Winery in Westport, and they have merchandise and gift items. It is a happening place, so come out and support your local business!