by Andrew Coppolino | October 2023
Eins, zwei, drei … zehn!
Set your Google Trip Planner, appoint your designated driver and strike out on a trek to check out these ten (10) of Waterloo Region’s many wunderbar craft breweries. Here are few suggestions, in alphabetical order, out of more possibilities too numerous to list here.
And … check out the Hop On Waterloo Region brewery passport event that promotes the local beer industry in the community and have a chance to win a brewery prize pack: but hurry! The contest ends October 14.
Block Three Brewing Co., St. Jacobs
Brewer Kevin Freer suggests welcoming fall with this St. Jacobs-based special beer brewed for Oktoberfest. Block Three’s Marzen Lager is a traditional German-style lager that offers an aroma of sweet malt, bread crusts and hay (and who doesn’t love the smell of hay?). Freer says the Marzen is a touch sweet with light toasty flavours and mildly earthy hops along with a medium-body and slightly sweet finish.
Counterpoint Brewing Co., Kitchener
Like all brewers, Counterpoint strives for the perfect balance of complementary and contrasting ingredients for each of their beers. Currently in the taproom is a suitable fall beer: Gemütlichkeit Altbier is a German lagered ale balancing bitter with malty sweetness – and just in time to say “Prost!” for the beery frivolities that characterize Waterloo Region at this time of the year. Add to that Counterpoint’s commitment to being a net-zero operation as part of their mission of sustainable brewing.
Innocente Brewing Company, Waterloo
Innocente is Innovative and Inventive. Self-described as purveyors of beer that crosses a boundary between “danger and delight,” there’s a devil in the details of their delicious beers – and playfulness in their naming: Inn O’Slainte and Pils-Sinner, for punning instance.
Check out the “Kitchener Weisse mit Haskap Berry,” a tweak of their beloved Kitchener Weisse made with locally-grown haskap berries to produce a light, tart and refreshing beer with a deep ruby colour.
Farm League Brewing, Cambridge
“What Feelin’ Good Feels Like” comes in hefeweizen at FLB. This Galt Brewery features lots of music events. and while you’re there check out their snacks menu: popcorn, build-your-own-hotdogs and pizza (including with cupping pepperoni). Perfect accompaniments for sipping a pint.
Foundry Brewing Company, Cambridge
Part of the amazing and transformative Gaslight District in Galt, in its branding and identity this brewery plays into its ironworks and foundry history but has forward looking brewing that has won it awards, such as their German-style “Beautiful Aurelia Hefeweizen” (Gold at 2020 Ontario Brewing Awards and bronze at the Canadian Brewing Awards), a wheat beer flavoured with bananas and cloves. There is also there Oktoberfest marzen brewed in accordance with the Reinheitsgobot and German Hersbrucker hops.
Four Fathers Brewing Co., Cambridge
Near the Speed River and reclaiming an old factory that, in 1914, was manufacturing electric and gas-powered washing machines, Four Father has a lot going on inside its large brick-and-beam facility: stainless steel brewery equipment, a 130-seat taproom and dining area (with ping pong tables), upstairs event space, bar, a stage, a patio and a disc golf course beyond the glass-and-aluminum roll-up garage door, a retail store with merch and bottle shop — and a kitchen with some great burgers.
Rural Roots Brewing Company, Elmira
While it’s located in an industrial district just outside of the downtown, and near where the world’s largest annual maple syrup festival is held, Rurals Roots is dedicated to exactly what its name says: its roots are rural and dedicated to supporting and sourcing from the area’s wide ranging agricultural landscape. Kommunity Kolsch is a nod to the area’s German background, while Schticky Ale uses maple syrup from nearby Mennonite farmers.
Twas Now Brewing, Kitchener
Inspired by the “Twas Now Bridge” near Breslau (*if you know, you know*), Twas Now is an itsy-bitsy 200-sq.-ft. pico-brewery built into the garage of a residence near the Kitchener Auditorium: it’s likely one of the smallest breweries in southwestern Ontario. Owned and operated by a few families who grew up in the east ward, plan to visit on Saturday between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m.: it’s the only time they’re open (Growlers only sold).
Short Finger Brewing Co., Kitchener
Self-dubbed the region’s only sci-fi punk brewery, SFBC and co-owners Rob Hern and Kat Rogers-Hern create some of the most interesting beer in the area – and with the most interesting names and label art to boot – making the Shortfinger taproom and bottle shop worth discovering. For instance, Lando – Hern’s “biere de raison d’etre, his concept album, his play toy.” The beer is protean, amorphous, a shape-shifter that yields a multitude of combinations and permutations: it could have plenty of aged hops or just a little; sometimes the grains change, sometimes the fruit.
TWB Together We’re Bitter, Kitchener
Highly connected and energized by the community, TWB will draw on produce from Kitchener Market for their special beers. There are always events taking place at this small brewery in a small industrial plaza, including food truck visits to their patio, trivia nights and open mic nights, brewing collaborations and lots of music. There have even been pottery workshops where you learn to make your own clay beer stein.
Andrew Coppolino is food columnist with CBC-KW and Metroland newspapers. The author of Farm to Table (Swan Parade Press) and co-author of Cooking with Shakespeare (Greenwood Press), he is the 2022 “Joseph Hoare Gastronomic Writer-in-Residence” at the Stratford Chefs School. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @andrewcoppolino.