The date is July 1st, 2015. 148 years have passed since Sir John A. MacDonald and his pals completed all the necessary paperwork for Canada to become an independent nation. In honour of this momentous occasion, “Dominion Day” was celebrated every year until 1982, when PM Ben Mulroney Sr. changed the name to “Canada Day”. Dominion City Brewing Co., based right here in Ottawa, decided to take back Dominion Day. And boy howdy, they nailed it.
Inviting 600 of their closest friends, many of whom were unironically dressed like Bob and Doug Mackenzie, the good DCBC folks put together a whimsical day and evening of pure Canadiana. Games, grub, music and beer were all on the menu. A canoe full of ice cold stubbies greeted you as you arrived. Grab your chorizo or wine and garlic sausage and suddenly you found yourself knee deep in Dominion Day. The torrential rain did little to keep party-goers from enjoying the outdoor games of peach basketball (But I need these baskets back!) or washer toss. A tip of the toque to the second-coming of Steph Curry in line in front of me for peach basketball – he sunk about two-dozen consecutively. I ran out of beer waiting my turn, and immediately threw up a brick.
There were dryer options inside, including Cross Country Canada (impossible), table hockey and maple syrup sampling. What was particularly delightful was the artwork lining the SAW Gallery inside – tributes to Dominion City and their craft. The artwork was of such high quality, I nearly commissioned a portrait of myself so that I may finally appear beautiful. There was also a live band cranking out great sounds, and one of four bars pouring tasty suds.
The highlight, for us at least, was sampling the four (!!) brand spanking new beers that debuted. First up was Devil’s Brigade, a Belgian style Golden Ale that poured a hazy gold, with heavy aromas of bananas and cracked peppercorns. Next up was Paper Salesman Pale Ale, which can be best described as a slimmed down version of the Dominion City standard 2 Flags IPA – with that familiar caramel sweetness supporting a resinous, piney offering. Picnic Blanket Raspberry Rhubarb Saison followed. This beer impressed by achieving something I was skeptical of – extracting the flavours of both of these unique ingredients. The end result was a beautifully pink, highly carbonated beer that after the initial tartness, gave way to a sweet and dry finish. The beer of choice however, was the Honey Bear & Friends Granola Porter. Not just for it’s fantastic name – but for it’s luxurious chocolaty and nutty notes on the nose, and on the palate. This is an expertly made, full-bodied porter – which I am about to leave work early to attempt to purchase the leftovers of.
When it was all said and done, the 600 revelers consumed 768 sausages, destroyed 3 peach baskets and lost one Canadian Goose decoy. As they are the definition of Canadian, the DCBC people wanted to defer the spotlight from themselves and highlight their partners that made Dominion Day possible: Town, Rex, Ministry of Coffee and Social Affairs, Culture Kombucha, Moo Shu Ice Cream and, of course, the Ottawa Fringe Festival for hosting at Arts Court. Truly an amazing collaborative effort.
If you were there then you get it. If you weren’t, you’re gonna want to get in on the fun in 2016.