What are you doing right now? Maybe you’re at work with way too much to do, inside your home with a lengthy list of chores, or drowning in debt with little money to throw down on an activity that isn’t listed on Groupon. We all have a million reasons for being stuck in the house, but once in a while we have to remember to shut off that computer, turn off the tv, and step into the outside world.
I’m always looking to discover new ways to entertain myself in city. After purchasing a Living Social deal for a brewery tour that never worked out, I stumbled upon the relatively new company (less than a year old) called Brew Donkey that offered exactly what I was looking for. I signed up for the “West Ferments” tour, featuring two breweries and a brewpub. Here’s how it went.
There are 4 ingredients needed to make beer: water, grains, yeast, and hops.
Bumping along in a classic yellow school bus, the party starts even before arriving at the first location, the Old Mill Pub near Carleton Place. Brad (Brew Donkey’s owner, operator, tour guide, and most importantly the guy who’s drinking with you) hands us a booklet with a list of the different eclectic beers from the Ashton Brewing Company that we’ll have the option of tasting, as well as space for notes. Before our first stop, we’re required to make the difficult decision of choosing four out of seven selections.
Brew Donkey is completely on the ball and calls in the order ahead of time, so the samplers are ready shortly after we arrive. Since it’s the only brew pub stop on this tour, there’s the option of ordering lunch, and while the group waits for our food we get the insider’s tour of the old mill. Our favourite selection from the brewery was the Harvest Brown Ale, so, naturally, we went home with a growler (a jug used to transport draft beer). The other samplers were delicious as well, and satisfied with the beer and cuisine, we were happily off to the next destination. ABC’s beers are also available on tap to Patty’s Pub and Quinn’s Ale House.
It doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full. There is clearly room for more beer.
Located in Stittsville on Iber Road, this business is run by a husband (John) and wife (Kathy) team. John’s turned away from government work to chase his passion: developing and brewing beer. Even though the ways in which the brews are manufactured varies slightly from one brewery to another, I now appreciate that it’s not a simple process, not one bit. Combining science, gastronomy, dedication, and a tough grind, it’s clearly not a walk in the park. Since I can personally (by hair colour) relate to the Dirty Blonde, I’ll leave you with a description. It’s an easy-drinking, malt-oriented beer with mild citrus and floral hop flavour and like us blondes, it’s quite enjoyable.
Kickstarting this proud Underdog brewery required grit, a little gumption, and a whole lot of elbow grease.
Contrary to popular belief, launching a business doesn’t necessarily require heaps of disposable cash. A bunch of educated engineers brewing beer in a basement shortly turned their little project into a full-blown microbrewery. It was hard work that meant late nights, early mornings, and no paycheck (at least for the first two years), and (attention all engineering geeks) they even developed a unique, uber cool computer program and interface to run the brewery. We couldn’t resist acquiring a growler of the Dark Horse, a rich and full-bodied oatmeal stout, bristling with bold, unbridled taste. Not only is their beer available on tap at a variety of local restaurants and bars, but you’ll have to keep your eye out for the Grindstone Amber Ale, available in the LCBO this fall.
Brew Donkey tours are regional excursions into the Ottawa craft beer scene. Included in the tour fee is the pick up and drop off at a prearranged location, transport to at least 3 breweries or brewpubs, samples and tasting paddles, complimentary water, a tasting note sheet to track the beers you’ve had, and a short on bus beer education session. They also don’t limit themselves to only tours, but sell craft beer, fine foods, and even make deliveries. Whether you’re looking to advance your knowledge of home brewing, luxuriate in the day as a craft beer enthusiast, or simply explore refreshments that are 100% local, there’s a chance for everyone and anyone to participate, with tours offered every Saturday, and all year round.