Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Drinking Beer in Collingwood

Once strictly viewed as a winter destination on account of the incredible Blue Mountain ski resort, Collingwood, Ontario has transformed itself into a haven for day-trippers and vacationers alike during all four seasons. Home to attractions like the Blue Mountain Village (complete with shopping, restaurants, hotels and an adventure park featuring the Ridge Runner mountain roller coaster, a ropes course with zip lines, the Apex Bagjump, and gondolas to the top of Blue Mountain), Scenic Caves, Scandinave Spa and a variety of other attractions, there is no shortage of ways to fill you days.

The town also features an incredible trail system. During our stay we trekked along the Heather Pathway which does a loop through the better part of the town and starts and ends at two magnificent lookouts over Collingwood Harbour.

With the development of four season tourism along with a strong community of both seasonal and full time residents, an array of beer, wine and spirit manufacturers have also found their homes in Collingwood. The town is home to three breweries; Canadian Mist Distillery, makers of the excellent Collingwood rye whiskey; and an array of wineries.

Never missing the chance to try local beer, I visited two of the three local breweries during my visit and found the following gems. I look forward to checking out Collingwood Brewery on my next visit.

Formally known as Denison’s, the brewery re-branded and are now named for the method of launching ships used in Collingwood for generations. Side Launch has experienced impressive success in the Ontario beer market. Their lineup is focused and features mainstays that are quality approaches to traditional beer styles, along with a revolving selection of seasonals.


One of the brewery’s three mainstay beers, and likely their most popular, Side Launch’s wheat is a German Hefeweizen, and likely one of the better efforts at the style amoung Ontario breweries. Banana predominates on both nose and flavour and is backed with strong yeast character. Coriander and other mild spices round out the flavour.

Dark Lager

I’ve been drawn to this style (traditionally called German Dunkel), of late. The beer is pure malt on the nose with the flavour of light caramel, bready malt and a little bit of brown sugar. The beer leaves you smacking your lips long after your sip.

A brand new entry into the Ontario beer market, Northwinds opened a little over a year ago and offers a great selection of food and beer at their brewhouse. You won’t find these beers in major retailers, but the variety of beers on tap is astounding. While there were a few misses, the following beers really grabbed my attention.

Brew Mountain SMaSH Series (Centennial)

A great entry in the American Pale Ale category. Thin body with plenty of citrus on nose and flavour. Grapefruit and floral/piney notes predominate with the centennial hops really coming through as advertised. Great for summer.

Old Baldy Farmhouse Ale

With so many saisons on tap I feel brewmaster Andrew Bartle must have been a homebrewer. While lacking the usually yeast forward character of many saisons, this entry brings the hops to the forefront with the hot taste of rye malt coming through. Unique and tasty.

Side note! If you are looking for a truly unique place to eat while around the Collingwood area, check out Hai Sai in Singhampton (20 minutes south of Collingwood). Managed by restaurant legend Michael Stadtländer, Hai Sai is completely and utterly surprising. Both food and décor are out of the ordinary and definitely worth the trip off the beaten path.


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