It’s been a while since we last visited Kingston on Apartment613! Although we do hear from readers in that neck of the woods every now and then and we share the 613 area code with our neighbouring town, after all.
Today’s post will shine a light on the Limestone City for our readers in Ottawa-Gatineau. We’re checking out Kingston’s craft beer scene. If you’re reading this from Kingston, please leave a comment to let us know what we may have missed!
Kingston has a long history of beer brewing, going back to the 1790s. Today, Kingston is home to eight breweries and one cidery, all dedicated to honouring—and putting their own spin on—the Canadian craft brewing tradition. Explore the breweries, taprooms, and patios of Kingston, or take a guided tour of some of our favourites.
KBC: a Kingston original
The Kingston Brewing Company opened in 1986, and it is now Ontario’s oldest brew pub with beer, cider, and soft drinks all made on premises. As well as its famous Whitetail Cream Ale and Dragon’s Breath Ale, the business offers a variety of ales, lagers, and IPAs. Enjoy your beverage with a meal inside or outdoors on one of the prettiest courtyard patios in Kingston.
Stone City Ales: taking locavore food and drink seriously
Stone City Ales takes the idea of creating local products seriously. As well as small-batch beer brewed on premises, Stone City offers food made with ethically sourced meat and seasonal, local produce. (It also has a good selection of vegan options on its menu). Among its popular beers on tap is Wolfe Island Common, made from hops grown at Wolfe Island Hopyards, just a short ferry ride away from Stone City’s downtown Kingston location.
Skeleton Park Brewery: something old, something new
Skeleton Park Brewery celebrates Kingston’s long brewing history: founder Trevor Lehoux researched and recreated 150-year old recipes from Kingston’s past. Skeleton Park’s Heritage series boasts an English ale, Bohemian pilsner, and an amber ale. These staples, available year-round, are complemented by seasonal and limited edition batches.
Daft Brewing: fun in the sun
Operating out of a former five-bay car garage in Kingston’s Williamsville neighbourhood, Daft Brewing’s vibe is fun and unpretentious. Their offerings change constantly, but there is always a wide selection for everyone, from die-hard aficionados of grisettes and sours to the new-to-craft-beer drinker. And in keeping with their social nature, Daft’s patio is often the place to be in the summer for DJ sets, drag shows, and yoga classes.
Kingston’s west end is now hopping, with three breweries and a cidery: take your pick!
Riverhead Brewing Company: adventurously brewed
“Adventurously brewed” is the motto of Riverhead Brewing Company. Lime, pineapple, hibiscus and peach are just some of the flavours profiled in its selection of beers. As well as IPAs and amber ales, Riverhead offers a milk stout and a Hefeweizen, as well as a selection of fruity hard seltzers.
Fine Balance Brewing Company: a beer for every palette
There’s something for all palettes at Fine Balance, which brews up three types each of IPA and ale, a New Zealand pilsner, a Weizen (German-style wheat beer), and its Raven Meets Wolfe lager, which marries malts from Raven Trading from the Czech Republic with crystal hops from Wolfe Island Hopyards.
Spearhead Brewing Company: breaking from the ordinary
Spearhead’s brewers like to create beers that break from the ordinary, but give a nod to beermaking traditions. They have five mainstays, from a Hawaiian-style pale ale to a New England IPA. These are complemented by seasonal or small-batch special brews. A portion of the sales from Queen of Wheat (which evolved from a partnership with activist and drag performer Rowena Whey) go to the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity. Spearhead offers tours of its brewery for small groups: the tours are free, but donations to Hospice Kingston by visitors are welcome.
Hard Way Cider Co.: the magic of apples and oak barrels
Kingston’s newest beverage maker is doing things a little differently. Hard Way Cider Co. combines a variety of Ontario apples, aged in oak barrels from distilleries and wineries, to create a selection of six dry and bone-dry artisanal ciders. Its Catawampus premium cider has a hint of black cherry: aged in Kentucky Bourbon barrels, it has a unique and complex flavour.
MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Company: bound by brotherhood, brewed by tradition
Our last stop is just outside of town. The hops, wheat, and barley used in their beers are grown right here on the MacKinnon family farm. The MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Company, Ivan and Daniel MacKinnon, have matched their family’s farming traditions with their own engineering and brewing skills. Their offerings include a traditional Canada ale, an English pale ale, and a unique peppermint stout. The farm also hosts the “Back to the Farm” beer and music festival, a popular event every August.
Bonus Round: Kingston’s Good Time Tour Company
If you’re visiting Kingston with friends this autumn, you can take a guided tour of three of Kingston’s breweries, thanks to Kingston’s Good Time Tour Company. The tour is just over three hours long and costs $150/head for groups of six or more. Let someone else do the driving and savour these favourites:
Stop 1: Skeleton Park Brewery: tour of the brewing area, 4 oz. tasting from the bright tank, choice of pretzel bites with mustard or chips and salsa, and a Skeleton Park pint glass.
Stop 2: Spearhead Brewery, offering a free sample of any Spearhead beer plus one pint of your choice, and one snack option per customer (menu varies day to day).
Stop 3: Daft Brewery, offering three x 5 oz. tasting flight per customer, three cheese samples, and one pint of any Daft Beer.
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