Ontario’s Tri-Cities, and nearby Guelph, is home to many wonderful craft breweries. A craft beer fan doesn’t have to go far to find locally made brew in this region. And it’s a region we plan on exploring a lot.
But this brewtrip was a little different! I made the short drive to Kitchener to attend the official opening of Waterloo Brewing Co.’s new brewhouse.
The $9.3 million expansion at parent company Brick Brewing Co. Limited’s facility on Bingemans Centre Drive was completed two months ahead of schedule, and offers numerous improvements over the previous Waterloo Brewing Co. brewhouse.
Getting to see those improvements firsthand was a fun experience. And with us, a small and new beer blog, being invited to attend, Waterloo Brewing Co. showed us they understand the importance of including the grassroots of the craft beer community. It was especially surprising to be invited considering they are the craft beer division of Ontario’s largest Canadian-owned brewery.
Having the opportunity to speak with local city councillors and MPs in attendance let me see how valued breweries are as economic drivers. Local representatives were very happy to see the expansion for both reputational and economic reasons. And with no public dollars involved, the expansion is especially good for the community, the most notable benefit being that over $5 million was spent locally during the brewhouse construction with local trades, supplies, contractors and consultants.
The brewhouse itself is very nice. Part of a large facility, including a retail store, it’s been built to allow scaled production: Small enough to do seasonals and specialty batches, but large enough to meet the production demands of one of the larger craft beer producers.
Before touring the new facility, I got to enjoy an Authentic Amber which had a nice subtle, bitter finish.
The Amber, along with all other beers under the Waterloo Brewing Co. brand will be made at this new location. Compared to their previous facility, Waterloo’s new brewhouse is three times larger and can produce five times more beer. All this is done while also using 50 per cent less natural gas, 30 percent less electricity and producing 50 percent less waste water than the previous brewhouse.
Luigi Fantin, director of engineering and maintenance, led our tour and was clearly in love with his new facility. Loaded with new Krones equipment, the brewhouse was designed with efficiency in mind. For example, they’ll now be heating their mash with hot water rather than steam. Then, the steam produced from the heating process will be captured, condensed and reused for heating future batches.
And then came the most exciting part for me: an exclusive tasting of Waterloo Smoked Applewood Roggenbier! This seasonal brew will be available in select LCBO and Beer Store locations across Ontario next month, so I really took the time to savour it. This is a very smooth beer to drink. There is a definite grainy smell, nice dark colour and small head. There is an equally grainy, smoked flavour, low bitterness, but also not especially spicy. For someone like me who likes a beer that feels like a warm hug, this is great. I’m excited to finish off the growler in my fridge!
And you’re even getting our regular free activity suggestion, even if this wasn’t a typical brewtip. One of my favourite free things to do in Kitchener is taking a walk in Victoria Park. It’s a beautiful urban green space that you can spend hours in. Downtown Kitchener is only a couple blocks away from the park, so it’s very convenient.
Café Pyrus is a delicious vegan café only steps from the park that vegans and non-vegans alike will love. Grab a drink and some food, find a bench next to the pond and just relax. Bring a book and you’ll be there all day.
Kitchener-Waterloo and the surrounding communities have so much to offer visitors. From grabbing a growler at one of the many local breweries, to taking in one of the many festivals, you won’t be disappointed. It was great that Waterloo Brewing Co. invited me out so I could be reminded of everything the region has to offer.
We’ll be back soon!