Grand River Brewing

Yesterday Andrew and I went for a spin on the Cambridge to Paris Rail Trail (for my inaugural ride of the year, it was lovely, and highly recommended), and made a most excellent discovery on the way home.

Just after turning onto Ainslie Street in Galt, we saw signs for Grand River Brewing on an old industrial building, and the store was open. New beer? Exploration necessary!

So we parked and headed inside (all nice and sweaty and in our biking gear — classy!). After exchanging hellos with the guy on duty, Andrew noted that he hadn’t been there before, and asked what the guy recommended. In response he invited us back to the bar to do some tasting. Now THAT is the right answer. 🙂

Their tasting room is gorgeous, by the way. A perfect blend old and new, polished and worn, fresh and historic. We bellied up to the bar and sampled all but one of their regular brews and one of their seasonals:

We didn’t get a chance to try the Hannenberg Pils on site, but did buy some and each had one with dinner, and it was excellent. I’m definitely going to have to try their other seasonal brews as well, though the Russian Gun Imperial Stout intimidates me a bit. 🙂

The guy who served as our bartender, host, and tour guide (and whose name, regrettably, I didn’t catch, but he had a cool pinup tattoo on his left forearm), was great to talk to. Self-confessed beer geek, passionate about beer and Grand River’s beers especially, and very knowledgeable.

He told us about the histories behind each of the styles and the reasons for making each beer the way it was. Did you know that before Prohibition beers tended to be considerably stronger — like 8 or 9 percent alcohol, but even after Prohibition pressure from temperance groups kept brewers from making the beers that strong again? And the Galt Knife Lager is actually named for the building they’re in — the former Galt Knife factory.

I was actually fairly surprised to find that I really liked every one of the beers we tried, and they ranged considerably in style and flavour. The alcohol content ranged between 3.5 and 5 percent, intentionally low, since they focused a lot on brewing flavourful beers you could sit and sip. (They’re not for pounding back, and the Coors Light crowd probably wouldn’t be big fans, either.) They’re not afraid of hops, but all the beers were really nicely balanced, and didn’t tip the scales with bitterness.

We ended up buying some of each kind in bottles. They sell 500ml bottles and 1.9 litre growlers (there’s a deposit on both kinds of bottles, and they have to be returned to the brewery). Andrew also got a growler of the Mill Race Mild (Andrew really likes growlers), which is the most English style of the beers, to drink with his family, since they’re pretty solid beer snobs, and of UK extraction. We’re pretty confident they’ll like it.

Grand River doesn’t sell in the LCBO or Beer Store, though not for lack of trying. Alas, the LCBO insisted on jumping through a few too many hoops and made it just not worth it. And even so, they sell everything they make and can barely keep up with demand as it is. (We toured the brewery itself, and the guy told us they sell both from their retail outlet, and sell kegs to pubs.) A map to the brewery is here, and though they’re a bit out of the way coming from KW, we’ll certainly be making a return trip, and not just to return the empties. 🙂

Awesome to see a small, local business making a great product, and doing really well on their own terms. If you like beer, go check them out!

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