On a sunny day in late September, the Kawarthas Northumberland team set out to capture some fall imagery. Craft breweries made the perfect stops along the way, combining gorgeous scenery, warm hospitality, and excellent beer into one irresistible package.
Below are profiles of four of the locations we visited, but there are many more spots to choose from through the region. See our Beer, Wine, Cider & Spirits link for details: https://kawarthasnorthumberland.ca/food-and-drink/#breweries-etc
Sixteen years ago, someone bought Brandon Bickle a home brewing kit as a gift. We have that generous soul to thank for Hastings-area Focal Brewing Co., which officially opened in 2022 under the leadership of Bickle and co-owner Matt Filion.
The wide, rural landscape around the brewery makes the perfect location to sample its lineup of beers. Rock-solid classics like the pale ale, pilsner, and blonde ale share the spotlight with flavourful creations such as the Raspberry Fields Cream Ale and Stumble the Hills Pumpkin Ale.
Focal also goes the extra mile to welcome visitors with events like the annual Fokal Fest Oktoberfest celebration, and regular live music events. For Bickle and Fillion, it’s a logical extension of their passion for beer. “We brewed for thirteen years as home brewers and never produced a bad beer,” Bickle says. After tasting Focal’s selections, it’s clear the streak continues.
As you drive County Road 8 outside Campbellford, it’s hard to miss the historic mill perched high atop the ridge. The striking architecture dates to 1867, but nowadays the Fogorig farm property has been repurposed as a craft brewery and event destination.
The name is derived from Fogo, after the Scottish village that was original builder’s home, and “rig,” the Scots word for ridge. The view of forest and field from that ridge still impresses today, enhanced by a glass of one of Fogorig’s delicious brews. On tap are a rotating range of options, from New England IPAs to flavourful sours.
True to the farm roots, as you take in the sunset you can hear goats playing in the nearby enclosure. Co-owner Heather Anderson and her husband are grateful the property allows them to combine so many of their interests. “When we saw this we thought we could do all of the things we wanted to do,” Anderson says. “Brewery, restaurant, events… it sort of encapsulated everything we envisioned.”
Ganaraska Brewing Co. only arrived on the scene in 2021, but it’s fast become one of Port Hope’s most attractive propositions. From the rooftop patio overlooking the Ganaraska River to the spacious ground floor, it’s equally well-suited to enjoying the view with a pint, or taking part in events like concerts, trivia nights, and impromptu vintage arcade game challenges.
The speed with which the brewery’s Hazy Rapids IPA appeared in LCBOs attests to the quality of the beers on tap. There are options for a range of tastes, from the Easy Times Mexican Lager to the Crazy Craft ESB to the Muscles from Brussels Belgian Tripel. Food options are plentiful too, and highly sharable for when the whole table’s feeling hungry.
The diverse choices are united by a quirky sense of humour, as demonstrated by the brewery’s original comics and short films. The past couple of years have been a whirlwind, but co-owner Dave Dines seems to like it that way: “It keeps us busy, you know?”
Brewmaster Bentley Vass isn’t speaking metaphorically when he calls 100 Acre Brewing Co. his home—he and his four siblings grew up on the property. The experience sparked a desire to share the wealth, and one of Peterborough’s latest craft breweries was born.
Vass began his studies in the winery program at Brock University, but found himself drawn more to beer. After he completed the brewmaster program at Niagara College, he and his father began preparing the Ashburnham Drive location with a wraparound porch and other features to complement the swath of green space at the rear.
He hopes visitors will enjoy the space as much as he does, and in the warmer season, invites visitors to play a round of cornhole, disc golf, or ladder ball. As the weather turns cold, plans are afoot to heat the patio and add a firepit. The emphasis on enjoying the local surroundings is complemented by brews named in honour of the local wildlife—the White Tail Pilsner and Monarch Saison are prime examples.
Although 100 Acre beers are available in select restaurants, for the time being Vass is happy keeping the emphasis on visiting the brewery itself. “We really want you to remember the space,” he says. “We’re trying to drive focus to being outside and being in nature.”