Come On, Get Hoppy!🍻
Check out Prince Edward County’s Hip, Hop & Happening Craft Breweries
Article and photos by George Amaro
If you suffer from cenosillicaphobia, fear not, for Prince Edward County’s flourishing craft beer industry has the pint for what thirsts you.
For those who may not know, cenosillicaphobia is the fear of an empty beer glass. There are probably a great many of you out there that have yet to be diagnosed by this horrific affliction, seeing as how beer is the world’s third most popular drink – after water and tea.
Thankfully, The County now has nine craft breweries – soon to be 10 – to deal with the intense, thirst-inducing malady.
Stouts and IPAs and ESBs, oh my!
We’ve gone to great pains to check out each and every one of the existing nine, so that you wouldn’t have to suffer. Now, there are many, many fine remedies such as lagers and pilsners and ales and stouts and IPAs and ESBs and Belgian-style and American-style and Kolsch-style and so on and on and on. You can get them in cans and tins and bottles and growlers and yes, empty glasses. Needless to say, there’s a cure-all for all.
We won’t get into the style of the beer, or its fine character, depth, aroma, ABV or IBU – that’s for the true zythologists at each brewery to talk to you about – and for you to discern on your own. We’re just going to touch on the vibe – or the essence– that each brewery offers while you cure yourself of your cenosillicaphobia, winter, spring, summer or fall!
The County comes naturally to beer … from 1860 to 1890, more than a third of The County’s farms grew barley to meet the large demand in the United States. Those 30 years are known locally as the Barley Days. On to the cures …
The Vibe: No Worries, Mate.
Beyond the Beer: Indoor, communal table restaurant-style seating. Wood-fired pizza. Two patios, one that welcomes dogs. Live music Sundays at six. Tours by request or spontaneously. No reservations.
The Dish: Everybody just chill and relax. That’s the main message from 555, which serves up delish pints and wood-fired pizza as their signature food staple. Inside, the vibe is as natural as it gets, with beautiful hanging plants covering the ceiling. There’s even an epic 40-year old jade plant on one of the windows – that’s what you get when the brewer also has a horticultural degree! Outside, there’s not one, but two patios, right on Picton’s Main Street – perfect for people watching. One patio caters specifically to those with furry friends in tow, and the other to everyone – it even has a sandbox in case the wee ones haven’t had their fill of the beach.
(Hot tip: Head over to Macaulay Heritage Park on a Friday or Saturday night for the Graveyard & Gallows tour if you want more info on the story behind “The Fives” name.)
Where: 124 Main Street, Picton
When:Sunday – Thursday: 12 – 9 | Friday – Saturday 12 – 10 | Hours may be altered due to crap weather or private events 🙂
The Vibe: WYSIWYG
Beyond the Beer: Couches, high-boy tables. Large patio. Brewery tours. Food trucks. Stainless-steel tasting bar. Pet friendly. Swag.
The Dish: WYSIWYG …what you see is what you get. That’s the straightforward, no-nonsense approach that launched Barley Days as The County’s first craft brewery back in 2007, and it’s still the same approach today. Beer lovers can enjoy its award-winning brews at the tasting bar, or full pints in the brewery’s cozy lounge and seating area – the humorous tin signs that dominate the main wall are sure to make you LOL! Take your favourite beer outside and you can watch the world zoom by on a patio picnic table. Those interested in learning more can take a guided tour of how beer is made at The County’s original brewery.
Where: 13730 Loyalist Parkway, Picton
When:Sunday – Thursday: 10:30 –
6 | Friday – Saturday 10:30 – 7
The Vibe: Wholesome Goodness.
Beyond the Beer: Order from Flossie’s Sandwiches (across the road) menu and have it delivered. On-site pretzels with mustard. LP record playing. Horseshoe pits and lawn games coming soon. Small group tours.
The Dish: One of The County’s freshest faces on the beer scene has a clean, simple, down-to-earth vibe about it. Maybe it’s all the wood that lines both the inside and outside of the Gillingham facility, or the fresh, quality suds named after family and friends. Perhaps it’s the helpful, knowledgeable owners, and the old-school vinyl LPs that are played the way they should be – one complete side at a time. It could be because of the beautiful patio that overlooks a nearby vineyard, and a fire pit that’s perfect for good friends and good conversation. Or, maybe it’s because of Nigel, the brewery’s ankle-licking Boston Terrier/French Bulldog mix … you’ve been warned! It’s probably all of that and a bit more … you decide.
Where: 1316 Wilson Rd, Hillier
When:Sunday – Monday: 11:30 – 5 | Tuesday – Wednesday: closed | Thursday – Saturday 11 – 6
The Vibe: Chill Ville.
Beyond the Beer: Plenty of indoor seating in two rooms. Granite bar. Chips & dip. Located just off the Millennium Trail.
The Dish: There’s a reason that The County’s newest brewery is located down an out-of-the way, narrow, bumpy and dusty country lane … it’s a reflection of its relaxed, laid-back, unpretentious style. That chill-and-let-chill attitude is also ingrained in Matron’s beer, design and space. The old warehouse has been re-born as a shiny, modern, beer-making facility, with a tasting room that features a relaxed minimalism – and an equally cool, black lab-mix named Rhubarb … or Barb/Barbara as she’s now referred to in her advanced years. And coming next year, an outdoor beer garden.
Where: 65 Barkers Lane, Bloomfield (Turn at the Hatch Gallery)
When:Sunday: 11 – 5 | Monday: 12 – 6 | Tuesday – Wednesday: closed | Thursday – Saturday 12 – 6
The Vibe: Hip & Happening.
Beyond the Beer: Plenty of indoor, restaurant-style seating in two rooms. Long bar. Open-air-garage-style doors. Full kitchen (no reservations). Open early for breakfast. Open late. Large-screen TVs to watch the big game. Wednesday darts. Patio. Outdoor ice rink, skateboarding non-winter. Beer-it-forward board. Soft-serve ice cream. Swag.
The Dish: This is the cool place to gather with friends and watch the big game, or just hang out with some great, traditionally-made beer and delish food … I’m talking to you, garlic aioli and parmesan fries! The former Midtown Meats warehouse features soaring ceilings, making for a large, yet inviting and intimate space for anyone and everyone – from 416 hipsters to local families. Midtown is open late – or as late as it gets in The County (11 p.m. on weekends) – and starts early with breakfast at 9 a.m.
Where: 266 Main Street, Wellington
When:Sunday – Thursday: 11 – 10
| Friday – Saturday 11 – 11
The Vibe: Best Family Picnic Ever.
Beyond the Beer: Indoor and bar seating. Large outdoor space with picnic and high-boy tables. Outdoor kitchen and smoker. Fire pit. Live music on Saturdays and sometimes Sundays. Children’s playground. Outdoor games including ping pong, horseshoes, bocce ball, tether ball. Pet friendly (off patio). Retail shop. Located at the north-east end of the Millennium Trail.
When you walk into Parsons, it’s like stepping into a picnic with your favourite friends and family. There are people sitting at picnic tables everywhere, chatting, laughing and enjoying the fine beer and food. Others are frolicking with their kids on the playground, or throwing horseshoes, or playing ping pong. Some are gathered by the fire pit, or around the outdoor bar, or watching the “asado” slow cook. And that’s just outside! Inside are more tables and a wooden bar with 18 taps – all housed in 150-year old heritage lumber buildings.
Where: 876 County Road 49, Picton
When:Sunday – Thursday: 11 – 6 | Friday – Saturday 11 – 7
The Vibe: Surf’s Up!
Beyond the Beer: Indoor seating area and bar. Large patio. Outdoor kitchen (Thursday – Sunday) and rotating food vendors. Live music Saturday and Tuesday nights. Beach volleyball (Thursday league). Yoga Sundays. Ping pong. Pet friendly. Ad hoc tours by request. Swag.
Surfing culture and a stoked tropical vibe dominate the scene at Prince Eddy’s. It’s a very laid-back space to enjoy a frosty one with all your fave dudes and dudettes. Chill on their bitchin’ patio and listen to live music (Saturday and Tuesday nights), or amp it up on the epic beach volley court! Step inside into a spacious, bright white interior splashed with palm frond décor … think tropical beach bar – County-style! A cool, second-floor event space overlooks the brewery and all the beer-making action.
Where: 13 Macsteven Drive, Picton
When:Sunday – Thursday: 11-6 | Friday – Saturday: 11-7
The Vibe: Backyard Bohemian.
Beyond the Beer: Brown, faux-leather 1970s-style basement bar. Outdoor patio table seating area. Tee-pee. Bar snacks. Pet friendly. Impromptu tours.
The County’s smallest brewery is also its most eclectic. Think basement beer-making – with an upscale, wine-influenced twist. Strange Brewing’s small tasting room, which is actually part of the brewer’s home, is non-descript and unassuming – but that in itself is part of its charm. Beer fans can sample the suds at a retro, faux-brown-leather bar – the kind you might’ve found in your parents’ basement in the 1970s – while the brewery’s 14-year old black cat watches with indifference nearby. Outdoors is just as, well, strange, with a large glass patio table and mismatched mix of chairs, an ivy-covered outdoor storage building, and a very cool tee-pee.
Where: 371 Chase Road, Hillier
When:Friday: 12 – 6 | Saturday – Sunday: 11 – 6 | Monday – Thursday: closed
Land & Bog Smokehouse, Brewery & Cabins
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Land & Bog, but their brewery isn’t quite up and running yet. You can catch their smoker and BBQ grill, however, at lots of local events.