Brewtripping Bowmanville

Have you ever had a “that was worth it” moment?

After a commute that took twice as long because of horrible Toronto traffic, we really needed one of those moments as we stepped through the door of Manantler Brewing Co.

Bowmanville, a town of about 43,000, is the type of town you hope for when exploring a new brewery. The outskirts of town has the big box stores and cookie-cutter development, but the downtown has all the character and history that we’ve come to expect from Ontario towns. Great old buildings, easy to park and explore on foot and lots of one-off family owned stores. And surrounding Bowmanville is wonderful agricultural property and plenty of farms that families can explore. We drove by one that was overloaded with families as they picked out pumpkins and went on hay rides.

Tucked away in a reclaimed factory, just off the main street, is Manantler Brewing. They’re a young brewery, but their beer had caught my attention on social media. I’d see enough people raving about them that a visit was overdue.

In true Brewtrippers fashion, we took advantage of a Groupon put out by Manantler. And it was a hell of a deal! For only $22, we had a brewery tour and each got a flight of samples and a Manantler pint glass!

The brewery is in a great space. It’s in the basement and has lots of room to enjoy samples (no bumping elbows with other people), and even had electric drums set up if you’re so inclined to show off your musical skills from Rock Band.

Trevor led the tour and was great. He clearly loves what he does and is passionate about the brewing process. Both the craft beer newbie and aficionado get something from this tour.

Now, the beer. Oh man, they’re doing amazing work! Manantler’s lifespan can be measured in months, but they’ve already delivered 47 different beers. But on this visit we did three samples.

Wheat Er Hosen

A lot of breweries have removed the sour element of a traditional German wheat beer. Manantler hasn’t. The sour in Wheat Er Hose. isn’t  overbearing. The first few sips give a nice subtle sour tone, but then calms down into a wonderfully easy drinking Weiss. This is a great beer.

Wheat Er Hosen from Manantler Brewing
Wheat Er Hosen from Manantler Brewing

Three Legged Dog Belgian Tripel

At 9.5% ABV, this one packs a punch! I need to try this one several more times to fully get my head around the flavour. It’s somehow both complex and simple. There’s definitely a sweet and sour green apple flavour that is most prominent. But there are more flavours happening there. Really good beer, and is a style we haven’t really had before.

3 Legged Dog Belgian Triple from Manantler Brewing
3 Legged Dog Belgian Tripel from Manantler Brewing

The Dark Prince Black IPA

This is Manantler’s award winner. On first sip you know why. It’s a wonderful confusion of your senses. As it pours, you’re expecting a porter or stout. This beer is very dark. But then you smell it and you’re hit with grapefruit and citrus. When you finally taste it, you have no idea what to expect. And again, it confuses you. The texture and mouthfeel is a bit thicker, but with traditional IPA notes. It’s a wonderful beer and we immediately grabbed bottles of it to bring home.

The Dark Prince Black IPA from Manantler Brewing
The Dark Prince Black IPA from Manantler Brewing

The atmosphere at Manantler is great. The small brewing space is easy to see while sitting in the tasting bar, and all the staff are ready to talk all things craft beer. They also have a wonderful tip-of-the-cap to other Ontario, and beyond, craft breweries. On their wall are numerous bottles from other brewers, which Trevor described as being beers they take inspiration from. We could’ve stayed there all day to be honest, but eventually had to move on.

Inspiration wall. Other Ontario beers as well as Manantler's releases
Inspiration wall. Other Ontario beers as well as Manantler’s releases

Quite some time ago we’d bought a Groupon for the Bowmanville Zoo, so we decided to use it before it expired. To be honest, we’d bought the Groupon before the televised incident of zoo director Michael Hackenberger swearing at one of the zoo’s baboons. Had it been after that, it’s very unlikely we’d have bought tickets. And we’ll leave it at that.

Down the street from Manantler is The Village Inn, which is a cozy pub with a great patio. Premier league soccer and NHL hockey were on the TVs and the staff were laid back but also really quick. The service was very nice. The standard big brewers were on tap, but they also had Manantler and 5 Paddles Brewing Co. on tap as their craft options. I couldn’t resist another Manantler brew and tried their Shelf Conscious Amber. This was the most mainstream tasting of their beers, which made sense with it being on tap in a pub. Had a nice bitterness, but was very drinkable.

Walking along and shopping in Bowmanville’s downtown is a great option when you visit. Being a bit outside the major urban areas, the town also offers conservation areas if you’re looking to escape into nature.

As seems to be happening across the country, this rather sleepy town is home to a great craft beer destination. Manantler is brewing excellent beer, in a very cool space, and is owned and operated by great people. Getting this beer into the LCBO for wider distribution is something we hope to see soon. More people need to be drinking their beer. We can only imagine what this young brewery will do next!

We spent a lot of time in traffic to get to and from Manantler Brewing. But it was totally worth it.