I’ve always considered Ottawans to have a strange obsession with patios. To confirm my suspicion, I turned to outdoor-drinking expert and founder of the Ottawa Brewery Market, Taralyn Carner, for insight on this city’s love for patios: “Our downtime is precious, and the summer months are so fleeting,” says Carver. “What’s more relaxed than beers in the sun with family, friends and neighbours? Nothing. It’s like a vacation in your backyard. Self-care at its best.” Fleeting warm weather and relaxation are strong drivers to put people out on patios. And, of course, once on those patios, there tends to be a beer that is ordered.
So to help connect the two, below you will find five breweries that have fantastic patios.
BTP’s signature white picket-fence logo-ing wraps around their new patio, which offers a wooden oasis within the asphalt parking lot desert of City Centre.
Brewery co-owners Shane Clark and Rob McIsaac are thrilled with the response the new outdoor seating has received. They offered two theories on the local obsession for patios: either Ottawa’s patio-love is driven by our “$#itty winters” or that the low-density of development has created favourable conditions for sun-kissed drinking spots.
The BTP patio is like a communal backyard in urban Hintonburg. Picnic-style seating, umbrellas and gentle lighting set the mood for those stopping in for a pint. They also have a new partnership with The Smoque Shack that allows visitors to enjoy BBQ on the deck. Completing the backyard-feel is an ever present game of cornhole, waiting for the competitive-leisure athletes to hurl a beanbag. It’s like a big suburban backyard in the middle of Hintonburg.
Yet, this patio is but one of many BTP brewery expansions. The addition of a huge glass garage door opens up the brewery to more light and connects the indoor seating to the new outdoor options. A new kitchen is underway and the brewery will soon to able to output even more cans of their flavourful beers.
But for now, the patio opens up the space to more seating and events like Crafts & Drafts and the Patio Olympics.
Another new patio comes via Beacon Hill’s Dominion City brewery. Tucked away in the Canotek industrial park, the brewery has built a treehouse for adults. Co-owner Josh McJannett explains how they worked with the space they had, designing a patio that works with the few trees on the premise and provides the best seating for those watching the neighbouring soccer field. “I think offering that sense of imagination for people is really the ballgame when it comes to differentiating an experience,” says Mcjannett “Our treehouse patio felt like it fit the bill and we’re pretty excited to see people enjoying it now.”
Much like their BTP neighbours to the west, DCBC sees the patio as a part of a larger expansions. “We have an enormous amount of green space on our doorstep,” notes McJannet “Thousands flock to the Shefford Park each week for soccer, beach volleyball and hockey tournaments at the Sensplex and a new bike path directly connects us to the Ottawa River parkway.” We’ve been slowly building up the experience since we opened by extending our hours, renovating the tasting bar, offering delicious food and just generally creating a space that feels welcoming and unique. The ability for people to enjoy delicious beer and food outside in a cluster of trees overlooking the park is a pretty cool experience.”
A wooden platform in a parking lot isn’t the first image a patio conjures, but the ingenuity and continuous investment in their location is another example of DCBC staying genuine to their brand and their neighbours. McJannett sees why this, or any Canadian, community annually races to the start of the patio season. “I don’t know if patios are necessarily an ‘Ottawa thing’, but I’d say that in a city where it’s winter eight months of the year, we’re a people who know how to enjoy a beer outside when the opportunity presents itself!”
And while the surge in local breweries adding patios seems like a 2018 phenomenon, there are some established patios already out there.
Beau’s brewery knew that being located outside of the major urban centre meant creating a destination to bring fans to the brewery and providing a place for them to relax while enjoying food and drink.
“We built the Beau’s patio in 2010,” says Jennifer Beauchesne, Communications Director and Employee Owner. “Being in Vankleek Hill we know we are a destination brewery for most of our visitors, so we wanted to create a space that allowed people to relax and extend their visit, that still felt like part of the brewery.”
“We went for a rustic feel, used lots of wood beams, barn board and corrugated metal, and it’s built by hand. One of our brewers brought in and planted the hops that grow over two sides of it now, so it’s got nice shade and we’ve added some rain and sun shelter too so you can be out there even on meh-weather days. One of the best things the patio adds for us that we were previously missing is a space for groups to gather.”
Driving the 100km to the brewery deserves a spot to take a breath before making the return journey. Friday to Sunday, food service is available on the patio from noon to 6:30pm and the patio menu rotates monthly. Plus, importantly, a dozen beers on tap.
In Gatineau, Brasseurs du Temps offers a massive patio that is fittingly snuggled in along Brewers Creek. The creek earned its name as it’s the original site of the brewerey of Philemon, Hull’s founder.
The outdoor space lets more fans of BDT to order food or a 12-flight beer sample, the famous Horlage. “Our patio seating capacity is 250, doubling our capacity in summer with the patio open!” Brewery president Alain Geoffroy, “At night, our patio has a fairy aspect with its lights, the coloured wall of the building, plus the creek and lights on the bridge.” Plus the brewery is a surprisingly short bicycle ride from Ottawa’s core.
Eager to join the patio party is Hintonburg’s Tooth and Nail. Their application for a minor variance is in front of the the City of Ottawa’s Committee of Adjustment at the time of writing. For those wishing to get a sneak peak, the renderings and plans are in front of the pub’s washrooms.
Head brewer Matt Tweedy thinks the patio will be a great enhancement for the brewpub: “We are looking at a small patio out front facing Wellington and the artist’s rendition looks fantastic. We have received an overwhelming amount of verbal support for the patio from nearby residents and community members, and are always looking for as much support as we can get!” He also points out that with so many other breweries offering outdoor seating (like those mentioned above), T&N needs to keep up with its industry colleagues.
New patios, old patios and patios soon to come. Whether a uniquely Ottawa-scene or just an aspect of the summer we appreciate, drinking outside is just the best.