It’s becoming almost a weekly activity for me to receive news of a new Ottawa brewery opening and then working with the beautiful people at Apt613 to help spread the news. To be clear, this is no complaint but praise for the outstanding growth of the brewing community locally. What’s even better about all this growth is that new entrants to the craft beer scene are working hard to differentiate themselves from the established crowd. We don’t just have new breweries, we have good new breweries. Case in point is the newly opened Tooth & Nail Brewing Company, located at 3 Irving Ave. in Hintonburg.
The first thing that sets this brewery apart is its location as an urban brewery in an up-and-coming neighbourhood. The brewery offers small plates and appetizers that are crafted by your server right behind the bar #fresh. Not only is T&N serving food, head-brewer and co-owner Matt Tweedy has designed charcuterie plates to pair with each of the in-house beers. A focus on local ingredients like artisinal meats and cheeses is an added bonus and anything pickled is a sure sign of success.
Proving the point, fresh hummus was being blended up as we toured. Oh and if by chance your date isn’t as beer-geeky as you are, wine is available. This brewpub helps fill a gap in Ottawa where food and beer are both crafted on premise. Not to forget our friends BDT, Big Rig, Ashton, Mill St., Clocktower and 3 Brewers but further growth in this brewpub subsector would be great.
Matt explained that he and his wife Dayna are through-and-through beer nerds and have worked in the industry for years. Matt cut his teeth working with several breweries including King and Beau’s. Through travel, work and seeking out new beers, they’ve seen the creativity and care in the breweries of others. They based their business on some of their favourite watering holes across Toronto, the US and Europe.
The result is a comfortable and welcoming environment that allows patrons a space to socialize and appreciate fine beer. As parents, Matt and Dayna also wanted to make sure the space was welcoming to families as well. While Matt explained this family friendly vibe to me, a father and his young son wandered into the brewery to ask if it was open. I don’t know if this was staged by T&N or just incredibly timely, but either way, it looks like that approach is going to be very successful.
A sure sign of a great brewer is attention to detail. There’s an art to brewing, to be sure, but the understanding of ingredients, timing, temperature, etc. is a detail-oriented science. Before we took a step into the brewhouse, Matt explained the effort that went into furnishing of the space.
The tables are made of old cable spools and the bar a solid slab of faux poured-cement. Simple lighting allows the exposed beamwork of the ceiling to shine through while old maps (found during renovations) and blueprints adorn the walls. The chairs were discovered in a Vancouver vintage shop and shipped cross country. This is a long way of saying if Matt and Dayna put a fraction of that care into their beer that they do into the space, we’re in for something good (they do and we are).
This took me way too long to get to the beer (I believe it’s called building suspense) but here we go. Stamina is a Belgian style ale that is sweet and tasty without the high ABV of your typical Belgian, allowing it to be more sessionable (read: you can drink more!). Tenacity is a delightful Pale Ale with a fantastic hop-forward bouquet on the nose but a gentler profile across the palate: it’s cautiously hoptimistic. Rabble-Rouser IPA is a treat. Not only is it my style of IPA with charming fruity and tropical notes, Matt served me a glass right from the fermenter. This immediately legitimized all the beer writing I’d ever done. Housewarmer is a collaboration beer done with Beau’s that celebrated Matt’s time working with the brewery and welcomed the future success of T&N. Dammit Beau’s is good at that friendly neighbour stuff.
The last piece of the brewery that I was shown is possible my favourite: the hop light. This, potentially artichoke-shaped, light hangs in the front window and will glow green when the brewery is open for business.
Long blog short, go try Tooth & Nail.