Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Oast with the Most, Babe

Me, Day Two
It's a time-honored tradition in my family to pack up the young'ns and spend a week cramped into a dated cottage with one working bathroom and as much of the extended family as possible. The cottage is on Lake Erie but it's in Port Colborne*, Canada. So, we basically vacationed on the other side of the very lake we live on states side. If the woman next door came over to show off her boob job I would not have flinched. That said, it wasn't all bad. There were countless adults around to babysit my kids and that left us some free time to find the craft brewers of Ontario. Yes, they exist.

Tucked away, just outside Niagara On the Lake shops, amongst the various wineries you might stumble upon Niagara Oast House Brewers. Located on Niagara Stone Road, the big red barn-looking brewery is so out of place nobody would blame you for driving by and assuming it's not a real brewery - because that's pretty much what we did. However, you would be blamed for not turning around and making a visit - which is also what we did.

The Brews
The Oast House has been around for approximately 18 months. The brews offer familiar styles with a unique twist. These are definitely not your typical American craft brews that are heavy on the hops. When there, you should get the sample tray of each style. They don't have an extensive lineup so they tray is not going to overwhelm you but the flavor profile is more complex than you might expect. The Biere de Garde and the Saison are part of the Farmhouse Ale Collection and both are a treat. The Barnhouse Country Ale is their most popular brew and for good reason. Oast House also offers some great memorabilia...'70s trucker hats, baseball shirts, and winter caps to name just a few. According to the staff, the upper level of the building is under construction to host events in the near future. Speaking of the staff, they couldn't be friendlier (like every other Canadian, to be sure). They spend as much time as you like but don't push you on sales. More than one person helped and/or offered to help during our visit. Also, there is a ping pong table. In summary, the all around experience has us planning a long weekend to Niagara On the Lake to get some more of the still young craft experience in Ontario.

For whatever it's worth, we left with a bomber of each brew offered and a baseball shirt. The plan was to share the brews with other craft beer enthusiasts in hopes of encouraging them to make a trip but instead we greedily drank it all.....and feel zero guilt. We still have the shirt.

Angels smiling upon the brewery.

*It's worth noting that Port Colborne is part of the Welland Canal, a key part of the St. Lawrence Seaway that effectively killed the Erie Canal and the economy of Buffalo, NY.

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