Canada, our friendly maple syrup-loving neighbors to the north. They love their beavers, Tim Horton’s, and beer! I am finally venturing to Canada to investigate their craft beer scene. I am going to be gallivanting around Ontario with my friend Tiffany Martin, a Canadian beer writer and woman about town. She has been writing about the craft beer happenings for years on her blog, The Travelling Pint and has graciously offered up her home in Paris, Ontario as a place for me to stay. Tiffany will be showing me what the Canadian craft beer scene is about.
Canada Beercation Part 2:E-Bikes, A Beaver, A Turkey, & Beer
After checking off my first Canadian brewery at Paris Beer Co., the pump is primed for more frothy findings. I am getting familiar with my home base in Paris, Ontario. This beercation is going to be different than a lot of my previous adventures. First, Ontario does not have the density of craft breweries that other places in the United States have. For instance, when I visited Colorado in 2019, I managed to hit 62 breweries during a 3-week span. This sounds like a lot, however, with the brewery density in Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins being what it is, it was quite doable.
Ontario’s breweries are further apart. Their hours are probably still somewhat reduced from the pandemic. As a result, I will be hard-pressed to visit a lot of them. However, I do plan on giving in the old college try. Luckily, I am staying with Tiffany who knows the Ontario, Canada, beer scene almost biblically. So, she has curated a list of places where we will find good beer and good people.
Heading Out to the Farm
What Canada lacks in brewery density, it makes up for is pastoral drinking settings. Today, we are headed out to some pristine locations where the beer can be enjoyed a stone’s throw from nature. However, before we are setting off for the breweries, we need to stop by a hobby farm owned and operated by some of Tiffany and Bernie’s friends, Jonah and Sabrina.
A Circus in the Trees
I already had a bit of a connection to this farm because I had enjoyed some of the eggs laid by their chickens for breakfast. Now, I get to see the chickens, sheep, and turkeys that have free range of their property. The property is beautiful and sprawling. They have gardens, a lake, all sorts of areas to relax and enjoy the outdoors. After a warm greeting, I am offered a beer. I happily accept the can of Farmer’s Daughter from Whitewater Brewing. This blond ale is refreshing and crisp and is helping me beat the heat.
Jonah and Sabrina own and operate A Circus in the Trees, which is a multi-purpose property for all types of creative individuals. Currently, they are focusing on artist residencies to help a segment of the population that was really hit hard by the pandemic. They have several spaces that are available to inspire creativity and recharge the batteries of the soul.
I cannot think of a better backdrop for someone seeking inspiration and respite in Canada than A Circus in the Trees. The views on the lake are amazing and the vibes of true hospitality are strong. Plus, Jonah and Sabrina are kind and jovial individuals.
I Was Told There Would Be No Math…
One thing that I am having trouble getting used to in Canada is calculating the temperature. I was raised on Fahrenheit. So, the Celsius is not making sense, at all. I have a hell of a time doing simple addition and subtraction in my head, so to pull a Good Will Hunting and convert Celsius to Fahrenheit is not an option. Someone said it was going to be a scorcher at 24 degrees, today. Well, all I know is that it is hot and this Farmer’s Daughter is tasting refreshing.
A Titillated Turkey on the Loose in Canada
We walk around a bit and I see, with my own eyes, a turkey the size of Saskatchewan. Jonah warms me that this full-grown fowl has a reputation for randomly taking a liking to your calf muscle if you aren’t paying attention. Jonah jokes with me that he can go and get some peanut butter to expedite the proceedings and get right to third base. I decline and remain a safe distance away from this turkey who very well might be extra randy given the 24 degree lust-inducing heat.
The intense greens of all the trees around the property along with the different wooded paths make this such a peaceful place. They even have an Airbnb that you can rent out on the lake that is only accessible by canoe. Before I decide to book that for an upcoming stay, I need confirmation that turkeys cannot swim.
The Beginning of My E-Bike Adventures
It is time for the main event and we are ready to depart on our E-bike adventure. I have never done an E-bike before, but I am ready to embrace a new experience. The pandemic taught me that when life presents you with a new way to have fun and feel invigorated, you need to seize it. I am realizing at the ripe old age of 43 that life is short, and I have to live my days with more gusto. So, despite the fact that I am nervous about riding around on this E-Bike, I also know that this opportunity could be a lot of fun.
Bernie explains the controls to me. He urges me to go at my own pace until I am comfortable. However, it doesn’t take long for the adrenaline of cruising down the paths at a good clip for me to really get comfortable. Before I know it, I am careening down these country paths that are surrounded by trees and farm fields with a goofy smile on my face.
Not only is it fun, but I am now bumping up the speed and engaging the throttle to really feel the excitement of the Canadian countryside. Bernie is leading the way to our first stop as I am finding it easier to keep up with him. Before we know it, he is pulling off the road and I discover a quaint little farm brewery before me.
Canada’s Meuse Brewing
Meuse Brewing Company is a farm brewery located in Scotland, Ontario, that has a small brewing system and sources a lot of their brewing ingredients from the local community. Belgian beers are the inspiration for most of what Meuse Brewing has on tap. We are lucky enough to meet one of the co-owners, Estelle, who happens to be tending bar today.
After the exhilaration of my first E-Bike ride, some refreshing farmhouse ales are definitely appealing. The bar is located behind the brewing building. There is seating a variety of seating that spans the grassy outdoor taproom. The colorful umbrellas, the chickens, and the energy of people sitting around the bar socializing is so enjoyable. There is a palpable energy when you sit at the bar and immerse yourself with the organic energy of conversation with strangers.
To my left, there is a nice couple who moved to Scotland five years ago from Edmonton named Jan and Hruus. Next to them, there is a woman who actually owns her own butter tart business, Butter Forever, named Shari. To my right, next to Tiffany and Bernie is Dave, does sales for Jackass Brewing. We are all of different ages and backgrounds, but we have gathered together because of craft beer and that is a wonderful thing.
Time For A Flight at Meuse Brewing Co.
I order a flight and sample some beers before I decide on what to do for a full pour. It is a hot one, and I don’t think that the high temps are doing the beers any favors. I think that they are all suffering from a bit of low carbonation. What really sticks out to me is the definitive flavors and aromas of each beer. Of the five beers I try, there are definitely some highs and lows.
My favorites of the bunch are the farmhouse saison, the Chévere Coffee Stout, and the Peach and Apricot Saison. My least favorite of the beers is the IPA because it delivers no resin or bitterness for balance. I am starting to think that this might just be a Canadian thing because I found the same thing at Paris Beer Company in their beers that were advertising bitterness in the flavor.
Tis the Season for Saisons
The wheelhouse styles are obviously the saisons. There are three of them on tap-a farmhouse, a cherry, and a peach apricot version. For me, the farmhouse saison is the perfect for the moment. Being outside amongst the sun and the field makes me almost feel like I could be in Belgium. The big tip-off that I am still in Canada is the friendliness of those around me.
The first, a farmhouse saison, is a great beer. There are some wonderful lemon esters that give it a brightness. I love the dry finish and the hint of tartness from the years. The cherry saison is really hitting the dry and tart flavor notes. This particular beer is lacking in effervescence. I am not sure if that is the temperature being so high or a carbonation issue. The peach & apricot saison has so much wonderful ripe peach fleshy flavor and is balanced out by the bitterness of the apricot skin. The peach aroma really is quite enticing in this beer.
Chip Nuts: Canadian Snack Magic
As I am drinking, Bernie happens to say something about chip nuts. My interest is piqued. Now, being a good American, I love chips and I love nuts. Hearing that Canada has combined the two sounds like the greatest kind of witchcraft. Bernie procures a bag of Chip Nuts from Estelle who sells them as a taproom snack. Chip Nuts are a revelation. They are peanuts covered with an intensely crispy chip exterior to create, what I believe to be the perfect snack. If I wasn’t smitten with Canada before, these crunchy bad boys are doing the trick!
Milk in a Bag?!?!?!
This amazing snack is a Canadian thing. This opens the Pandora’s Box conversation that leads into bagged milk. Yes, you read that right. Grocery stores in Canada sell milk in clear plastic bags. The logistics of this is definitely causing my brain to hurt. I am imagining gallon-sized Capri Sun juice style things of milk. If you have ever had a Capri Sun, you know how problematic that little straw can be. I have been drenched by many a bag of juice in my day because I lack the surgeon-like precision to pierce the bag flawlessly.
Also, in America, when I buy milk at the store it comes in a plastic jug with a lid. I am imagining that you open the bag of milk and then you just have to drink the whole thing. How do you seal up the bag once it is open??? Well, all of these questions are just making the locals howl with laughter. I am loving the conviviality of this moment. It is this moment when I ask if I can feed the chickens.
Chow Time For the Chickens
I have been watching the chickens roam around the entire time I have been here. All various shapes, sizes, and calls, these feathered sentries have been watching and waiting for someone to come over to their coop to feed them. I don’t know if it is the Chip Nuts or the beer, but I am in fine spirits and ready to commune with nature. I am walk over there and they sense their day is about to get better. They flock to me as if I am the pellet-pushing Pied Piper of Canada. They are so happy and begin shuffling each other out of the way to get to the food. This is the first time I have ever fed chickens, much less at a brewery.
Would You Like Coffee With That?
My flight is polished off and I am ready for a full pour. I opt for the coffee stout, Chévere, because it is smooth, flavorful, and oddly refreshing given the fact that it is a scorching 24 degrees. The coffee provides roast and complexity without the acidic bitterness or astringency. I know that they used Altitude Coffee in this beer and that is probably a contributor to the amazing flavor. The texture of the beer is just right for the style and it is making me quite happy.
Biking Is Good For The Soul
After we finish our beers, we say goodbye to our new friends and get back on our bikes. It is a ride back to Jonah and Sabrina’s and then onto Flux Brewing. The ride back goes even quicker. Maybe it is not just the battery for the E-Bike, but rather, my recharged soul that is giving me the extra kick to go fast. We arrive back at the farm. Jonah and Sabrina ask us what is next. Tiffany suggests heading to Flux Brewing, which is just a hop, skip, and a jump away. We mount up our two-wheeled caravan and head for more beer.
A Beaver Sighting: It’s A Canada Thing
When we first arrived at the Circus in the Trees, Jonah was bemoaning his dilemma of whether or not he should dispose of the beaver on his property. These ambitious and industrious amphibious marvels are as cute as can be. However, they are also constantly trying to build a dam right where the lake flows into a little creek and that messes with the feng shui of that part of his property. He says it wouldn’t be hard to give the little critter a humane death and rid himself of the little wood chipper.
When we get back from our jaunt to Meuse, Jonah quietly signals us to walk over to where the lake meets the creek. Sure as Canada has 3 vowels in its spelling, the beaver is busily carrying sticks over to the area where it wants to create a dam. I could not, in a million years, want to bring an end to this cute little animal’s life. I am happy that I don’t have to make that decision. Jonah just shakes his head.
We are en route to Flux Brewing Company on our E-Bikes. I become acutely aware of how lucky I am to be having such an amazing experience with wonderful companions. Today is illustrative of why it is important for a human to go out and experience new things. Adventure can come in many forms. One person’s thrill is another person’s doldrum. I think that the truly adventurous souls in our lives actually find a lot of joy in exposing others to their methods of adventure seeking.
Today was the first time that I feel like I got to really see Bernie in his element. As he was explaining the E-Bike to me and coaching me on the particulars of riding it, I saw his ear to ear smile. I love how craft beer can bring people together. My first E-Bike ride through the Scotland countryside is something I will remember forever. Now, as I zip along on the bike path cloaked in the late afternoon sun, I am all smiles. One of my favorite quotes is, “Not all who wander are lost.” I feel like my wanderings have led me to some special places already on this trip. I cannot wait to see where else the spirit of adventure will lead me in Canada!
Flux Brewing Company
As we chain up our bikes in the parking lot of Flux Brewing Company, we head into the taproom. One of the co-founders, Jeremy Hansen, is there and is nice enough to show me the brewhouse so I can snap some pictures. Flux Brewing Company has beer out in cans and does a brisk taproom business, as well. Flux Brewing is not that old and survived the pandemic shutdown no worse for the wear. After my brief tour, Jeremy grabs me a beer and I sit down out on the patio which overlooks a small pond.
By now, everyone in our group has a beer and is having a wonderful time in the early evening Canada sun. The magic of connecting with people outside with good beer is something I wish I could bottle so I could have that same feeling in the dead of January. We are all enjoying ourselves. I encounter another Canadian snack staple, the ketchup potato chip. However, this version is a sweet and spicy version and I am instantly obsessed with it.
Flux Flexes Quality Beers
The beers I have at Flux Brewing are all quite good with one exception. Of course, I tried five different beers and only one of them was bad. If I can have an 80% success rate at a brewery, I am fine with that. Flux is the first brewery that I have found in Canada so far that wows me with their hoppy beers. They also have some great malty offerings. So far, Flux is really heads and shoulders above the other breweries I have visited.
The Session IPA, The Gateway, has some really nice citrus notes while not being astringent. Session IPAs can get out of whack quickly and this one definitely stays in its lane. The Flipside is also tasty with distinct balance between citrus flesh sweetness and piney bitterness. The texture of Flipside is also really nice.
A Slam Dunkel
I am also impressed with their Dunkel, which is called Our Choice. Dunkel is not a beer style that the masses are clamoring to drink. However, brewers love this style because, when brewed well, it showcases malt in a rich and satisfying way. I imagine that plenty of people who try it wind up loving it. The Jacked up coffee porter is also a wonderful marriage between the coffee and beer. Popular or not, I am happy that Flux has this beer as part of their repertoire because it is quite delicious.
The Jacked Up is an adeptly balanced coffee porter that harnesses all the roasted goodness of the malt and the coffee to create a wonderful beer. Again, we see an appearance from Altitude Coffee Roasters in a coffee. Kudos to Flux for using a fantastic local company to source their coffee.
While the beers are tremendous, overall, it is really the company and the scenery that makes this brewery visit a smashing success. The time spent at Flux amongst great people and delicious beer is fun and goes too fast. Before we know it, it is time to bike back to the farm and get back to Paris. I really love the staff at Flux because they are knowledgeable about their beer and friendly with their service.
A Twilight Wing Ding at the Paris Pub
We ride back to the farm and say goodbye to Jonah and Sabrina. When we get back to Tiffany and Bernie’s house, we definitely have a hankering for some food. So, we get the bikes and ride down to the Paris Pub for the Thursday night wing special. Now, I knew about the wing special because when I was here for breakfast, merely 12 hours earlier, I saw it advertised on their menu. The Paris Pub is a place to get a cold beer and some high quality food. Their new chef has a background in fine-dining and it definitely showed with my presentation of food on my plate for breakfast.
Now, it is dark out and I am not concerned about how the food looks on the plate, I just want to enjoy some wings and beers with my friends. We order up some beers and are enjoying the perfectly crisp air out on the patio. We see a lot of hustle and bustle on the street. There are quite a few teens all dressed up and I learn that tonight is prom. Thinking about still being in school at the end of June instantly gives me the shakes. We enjoy our crispy wings and then it is time to head back to the homestead.
Mr. B’s Wild Ride in Canada
I am in fine spirits now and about to embark on my first night-time ride. Bernie suggests sticking on the sidewalk because it is dark and I am ready to burn some rubber. I hit the throttle on the E-Bike and the jolt of speed propels me on into the night. The sidewalk on the bridge is not as wide as the road and I thank god for the fat tires because I am not necessarily riding in a straight line. Instead, it is a chaotic careen up the hill. I embrace my need for speed and am off to the races.
I remember roughly where Tiffany and Bernie’s house is and so I go my own pace up the hill. Suddenly, out of nowhere, about 10 meters in front of me, I see a car door open up and several young ladies pour out of a white sedan. I have to take evasive action and one of the gals comments, “Wow, those are some thick tires, my dude!” I speedily ride by with a hint of a wobble past them and yell, in true Michael Scott fashion, “That’s what she said!” Behind me, I hear the group giggle hysterically and one of them exclaims, “I think that was the guy from The Office!” Well, now I have the giggles, and I realize that I might have taken a wrong turn because Tiffany and Bernie are nowhere to be found. I spend a moment trying to mentally retrace route, when I begin to see two more bike lights moving in the darkness behind me. I tell Tiffany and Bernie about what happened and they laugh.
We get off the bikes and realize that the full day of laughter and exploration has made us all quite tired. We say goodnight and head to bed. Tomorrow is a big day because we have to head to a weekend-long beer festival. So, a good night’s sleep will be necessary. I fall asleep laughing with the memory of my nighttime E-Bike ride. Prost!
Dan Beaubien has been involved with Beerploma since 2014 although his passion for craft beer dates back to 2006 when he started traveling for beer. He mostly covers craft beer events, festivals, brewery openings/releases, and beer reviews. Dan has a soft spot in his heart for authentic British Style ales, IPAs, and all things barrel-aged. If you have any questions or comments about this article feel free to email Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org .