London's Craft Beer Scene and beyond!
London's craft beer scene has matured nicely over the last couple years and with more additions of breweries and craft beer bars. It has become a destination to put on your list as you won't go thirsty. We spent a few days exploring a part of what London has to offer including delicious food, fantastic Kombucha and a new brewery we had yet to discover.
Read on and discover a little of what London, On is serving up …
London Brewing Co-op is a regular stop when we venture to London they are a great example of local and every beer they brew contains at least some locally grown malts or hops. We were excited to be a guest at their Truly Local Craft Beer Fest. Yes it had a lot of "local" craft beer but this festival that takes the meaning of local to a new level. It's celebrating beer truly grown here alongside food and Cocktails. Meaning majority of ingredients in the beers showcased at this festival are grown within Ontario and close to London area. It shines a light on the hard work and risk-taking of local farmers, maltsters, and Brewers who are investing time in growing local and making a truly local beer. Thanks for a new spin on a beer fest guys and gals and creating truly local beer.
Ask any London resident to recommend a local craft beer bar and Milos' Craft Beer
Emporium is sure to be at the top of their list. With over 20 craft beer taps, no tv's
or loud music and fresh farm to table food it's easy to see why. As we met up with a few local friends for dinner and some drinks we were joined by Milos himself for some nice conversation and learned a little more about how he has landed his own craft beer bar pouring the finest of choices from across Ontario and beyond. I enjoyed a Black Lager by Budweiser Budvar from a city in Czech, not to be confused with the yellow water from American brewery Anheuser-Busch, to accompany my delicious in house made sausage I ordered Paper Tiger a crisp dry hopped Pilsner by the popular Toronto brewery Bellwoods which paired nicely with my in house made sausage. The food is fantastic so make sure to grab a bite as it is farm to table and only the freshest ingredients! I appreciate nothing more than a welcoming establishment that takes care of its beer lines and takes pride in not only what their beer lineup but their food and community as well. Cheers Milos you've done a fine job!
Toboggan Brewing Co. is smack dab in the downtown core of London and operates as a larger restaurant that serves up offerings from other breweries in addition to their own brand of beer. Each time we visit it is a packed house and an ever growing list of Toboggan Beer. Historically London was the Toboggan capital of Canada and as a child tobogganing was a favourite activity of mine so it was quite novelty to order a flight of beer served in a small replica toboggan, I felt like a true hoser. They have started to expand on some styles and are brewing more variety of beer and to be honest I had noticed an improvement in their beers since I had first tried them several years ago. Their Lunatic Fridge IPA gave the hops more of a starring role than I remembered and everything I had was a nice representation of the style. Nothing to out of the ordinary or experimental but a great place to go for grabbing a beer and knowing what to expect in your glass.
After being open for 10 months I finally had the chance to check out Storm Stayed Brewing and I was so impressed as well as a little annoyed at myself for taking so long to get there. Storm Stayed is the newest addition to the London scene and the name refers to an east coast slang of being stuck inside due to weather so it was perfect that we landed there on a very stormy night. There is something to be said for a brewer with a chemistry background as all breweries i've visited so far with that have had the cleanest, tastiest, bang on beers I have had. With 13 offerings on tap there was a great variety and was so thrilled to see some showcasing the malt such as porters, English Mild and stouts.
My flight was FANTASTIC and all the beers were incredibly well done; it included Sunburst, NEPA, Toil & Trouble, English Mild, Paddington Brown, Porter with cocoa & vanilla and The Hunter, American Porter.
They also have a variety of in house syrups that they offer to add to their Berliner Weiss like they traditionally do in Germany. I was excited to learn that as I didn’t realize they added syrups traditionally and was neat to taste almost a sweet & sour mix.
I'd rank these guys one of the best breweries I've visited in 2018 so I suggest you go and discover it for yourself.
Craft Farmacy has knocked it out of the park with both their beer list (not a typical list of craft beers you see everywhere) and their selection of oysters and other menu items is phenomenal. Everything about here is bang on! Oysters & Beer are one of my favourite pairings and though stouts are always my first choice to pair up with raw oysters you can't go wrong with Saison, Gueze, or even an IPA with a nice malt backbone would work especially if you like a good dose or horseradish, lemon and hot sauce on your oyster. Though keep in mind to not overwhelm the elegant and subtle nature of the oyster's flavors with a beer pairing that's just too intense. With their large list of Craft Beer and cocktails you have lots to choose from to make sure.
Craft Farmacy was a perfect blend of atmosphere, delicious food, fantastic beer and cocktails. It is on top of my list of restaurants to return to and am happy to recommend it to you as a must to enjoy good company with even better food!
Forked River Brewing was one of London’s first craft breweries to pop up and still has quite a variety to choose from as always so it's the perfect place for a flight or two! From a refreshing blonde ale to a barrel aged imperial stout there is something for all tastes! Owned by London residents and University of Western Ontario graduates they are were happy to move on from their jobs at the University to further expand on their home brewing hobby. I guess you can say they have paved some of the way for other breweries by being the first (2013) to open up and start serving some more, at that time, bolder beers to London. They knew London had Craft Beer Geeks hiding throughout and with some other craft beer bars popping up they helped grow that population and continue to offer a wide variety today!
As breakfast is my absolute favourite meal to eat out at we had to search for the best! We ended up having an amazing breakfast at the most adorable, vintage restaurant called The Bag Lady. Decorated with antiques, collectibles and vintage games it reminded me of growing up with collectors like my parents and was fun to look at while sipping your coffee out of vintage mismatched mugs! It’s a must visit but be sure to show up early as you're not the only one that wants to eat here but trust me if there is a wait it is well worth it.
I had what I like to refer to as the Breakfast of Champions; The Bag Daddy's Big Stack! Which was two slices of sourdough french toast filled with spinach, 2 scrambled eggs, swiss cheese, honey ham, maple bacon, tomato and avocado slices topped with hollandaise sauce. Open weekdays 7:30-3pm and weekends 10-2pm to satisfy your hunger and need for vintage!
My only previous taste of Kombucha was from a guy on the beach in Costa Rica who had made his own batch, it was odd but with it’s growing popularity and known health benefits I was excited to visit Booch and learn more about this popular fermented beverage. What a cool experience from the moment we walked in the door. The staff was so fun and helpful and helped in learning about and tasting Kombucha. Kombucha is not beer but there are lots of similarities between the two such as both being brewed and a fermented product! Though it is known to boost your immune system and improve digestion alongside a few other health benefits it actually tastes quite good and comes in a variety of fun flavours. It was quite a cool operation at this "brewery" and though it originated in China over 2000 years ago it is back and growing in popularity.
Kombucha has a very small trace of alcohol compared to beer since it ferments sugar into alcohol and CO2, but then uses oxygen to convert the alcohol into organic acids. So drink it all day everyday! Visit their storefront or you can check out their site to see what retail carries their product. Regardless of these differences, brewing kombucha and brewing beer aren’t really all that different. We take care of our SCOBYs (kombucha) or yeast (beer) and in turn, they take care of us and make us happy. So please raise a glass of either and celebrate the wonders of fermentation.
Anderson Craft Ales is a family owned microbrewery just around the corner from London Brewing co-op. I emphasize family run as I have had the chance to meet a lot of the family and they are a fantastic group of people who stand behind the beer they create and each other. At our most recent visit we got to tour around with Jim, the father and check out the additions to the brewery and the fall beer lineup. I conquered a fear of heights as I scaled up the ladder to view the newest fermenter
from the top and sipped away at their beautiful Stout served on Nitro in the taproom. A moderately full mouthfeel, balanced hops and roasty bitterness with some malty sweetness, while again flavours like coffee or chocolate are detectable. With the addition of Nitro it adds more silky creaminess to the Stout and takes a slight edge off of the beer.
There is something to be said for their simple marketing of their beer as you don't have to hunt to discover whats inside with names stating exactly what they are. IPA, Amber Ale, Brown Ale etc but thought the cans are simple what is inside is anything but. They are made traditional to style and packed full of balanced flavour showcasing both malt and hops throughout. I also give Anderson's the credit for bringing back the 355ml can to the scene. I love them as they cool quicker are a great size to sample several and don't get warm by the end if you are casually enjoying them on a hot summers day and easy to transport.Cans are a great option when it comes
to packaging beer as they are 100% impermeable to sunlight and the seal around a can lid is much better at keeping out oxygen than a bottle cap. Cans are better for the environment and fully recyclable. So be sure to stop by Anderson's to explore their line up of beer and all the fun events taking place in their taproom and grab some cans to take with you to enjoy not only that fantastic sound when opening but the thirst quenching contents inside.
Well I hope that is enough to convince you to take a first time or return trip to London and keep you there exploring for a few days! We stayed at the Residence Inn by Marriott downtown which was a great middle point to all stops and easy to catch an Uber. Thanks again to Ontario's Southwest for setting us up with the perfect 3 day itinerary and be sure to check out there site for more places to explore!