Located within a one and a half hour drive from downtown Toronto the communities of Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and four townships make up the Waterloo Region. The region is a high tech hub with companies like Research In Motion (BlackBerry) headquartered here and has a thriving Amish community based throughout the Townships. City Mouse and Country Mouse live within 20 minutes of each other and they have at least one thing in common. They like craft beer! The Waterloo Region Craft Beer Ale Trail continues a tradition started over 165 years ago with Sleeman and Kuntz Breweries. Today there are nine breweries within the Waterloo Region and another three within Wellington County. Together they make the Waterloo Wellington Craft Collective, and they have a beer for everyone.
I had the chance recently to visit four of the breweries that make up the Ale Trail. One each in Kitchener, Waterloo, St Jacobs and New Hamburg. To say I had a good time is an understatement. Let’s hop on the Ale Trail.
Innocente Brewing Company – 283 Northfield Drive East, Waterloo – Brewmaster Steven Innocente honed his craft beer making techniques in Scotland winning numerous awards and upon his return to Waterloo decided he would launch his own craft brewery. Innocente Brewing was born and I insist that this is a must visit when you are in the region. My personal favourites are the Pils-Sinner and the Berry Berliner. Don’t just stop at those two though. Steven has quite a menu of brews under his belt and I dare you to find something you won’t fall in love with.
Bitte Schon Brauhaus – 68 Huron St, New Hamburg – With only six taps at Bitte Schon Brauhaus available I bet every visit there will offer you the chance to try a new brew. Specializing in German style beers they also offer beer cocktails and light snacks. Best of all it is located within the small town of New Hamburg. Before or after your tasting you should get out and walk the historic village. It is a quaint town with a great B&B within a 2-minute walk from the brewery. Stay at Puddicombe House and then head straight to Bitte Schon Brauhaus for your evening libations. Fun fun fun!
Block Three Brewing Company – 1430-2 King St North, St. Jacobs – In the heart of Amish country on the banks of the Conestogo River, you will discover Block Three Brewing Co. They offer a constantly changing bottle and draft selection that feature barrel-aged, wild-fermented, fruit-infused, soured beers as well as some of the more traditional beer styles. During my visit, I sampled the King Street Saison, East Wind (lime and coconut Wit Beer), Summer Stout (white stout) and Constellation (wine barrel aged Rye Saison). That is quite a variety. My favourite was the Constellation and the King Street Saison. What will yours be?
Descendants Beer & Beverage Co. – 319 Victoria St North, Kitchener – Located in Kitchener is Descendants Beer & Beverage Co. The brewery and tasting room is the perfect place for large gatherings of friends and family. They even have a pretty decent food menu which includes a Beer Cheese Fondue. You can also hop on a brewery tour here if you are interested in how beer is made. You will also find Descendants beer on many of the taps in local restaurants.
This is just 1/3 of the Waterloo Wellington Craft Collective or Ale Trail as I call it. There are eight more places for you to discover throughout the Waterloo Region and neighbouring Wellington County. Whether you visit them all or hop into one when you are nearby the choice is yours. I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.