Ottawa’s Micro-Brews

Ottawa, and area, has quite a few micro-breweries, if you know where to look.  Luckily, I do know where to look so I’m going to help you out, and give you a few ideas of where to hit up.  A few things to remember:  the drinking age in Ontario is 19, and drinking and driving is just a stupid, idiotic thing to do.  Take public transit, walk, take a taxi or have a dedicated driver.

First up is our not-so micro-brewery breweries.  Mill Street was started up originally in Toronto in 2002, and opened up a brew pub/restaurant located in an old mill just off of downtown a few years ago.  It’s remarkably easy to get to by walking, and a wonderful walk along the way.  Head down Wellington street, past Parliament Hill, and the Supreme Court.  It’s the old stone building just across the street, on the banks of the Ottawa River.  It can get busy for dinner, but if you go around 3 or 4, for pre-dinner snacks and a pint, it’s easy to get a table.  I’m a fan of their Tankhouse and Organic beer.

3 Brewers (or Les Trois Brasseurs) is a new import in Ottawa.  Originally started in Quebec, they have very recently, within the past year, opened up two new brewpubs in Ottawa.  One is conveniently located at the corner of Sparks and Bank Streets.  This place is very busy for lunch – they open at 11:30, and are packed by 11:45.  But if you delay arriving until 1:00, the place has thinned out as the public servants return to work.  Their flammekueche are excellent (I love their Moulin Rouge and Italian versions) and so are the burgers.  They often have a seasonal beer on tap as well.

Lastly is another brewpub chain in Ottawa, the Clocktower.  There are 4 locations in Ottawa – one in Westboro, one downtown in the Market, one in New Edinburgh and one in the Glebe (with the clocktower, and where the brew house is located).  I like their Bytown Brown and their Clocktower Red beers.  They’ve also got delicious food.

There are a few straight breweries in and around Ottawa. Just out of town to the east is Beau’s All Natural Brewery Company (aka Beau’s) in Vankleek Hill (directions available on their web page).  They have tours, a patio in the summer, and celebrate Oktoberfest in October (because when else?)  Best part, if you’re here for Oktoberfest, is that they have a shuttle from Ottawa.  If you can’t get out their brewery, you can still support them by buying a pint in one of the many pubs and restaurants around town that carry it.  Try a Lug-tread!

Hidden just north of Westboro is the Kichesippi Brewery, at 866 Campbell Ave.  They offer free tours Saturdays at 2 pm. Bus 85 will take you close.

Because of course, there’s a brewery, Big Rig, owned by a local NHL player, Chris Phillips.  Located near the IKEA, in Ottawa’s west end, it does take a bit to get to.  Take bus 94 to Iris, or buses 93 or 96 to Pinecrest and walk towards the giant IKEA signs.  You can also take bus 67 to Greenbank/Iris.  There’s a restaurant attached to the brewery where you can enjoy some food with your microbrew.

Beyond the Pale is another small brewery located in Hintonburg (to the east of Westboro), at 5 Hamilton Ave.  They open at 12 on Friday, Saturday and Sundays.  All of the 90 series buses will take you to Tunney’s Pasture bus stop, the brewery is located a few blocks north.

Out in the south end is Broadhead Brewing Company, difficult to get to without a car, although bus route 116 will get you close.  I just found out about this company, and I’m eager to try their beer.  They have tours Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m, but they do mention emailing them to set up a tour.

And lastly, there’s Hogsback Brewing Company.  The trick with this company is that they don’t have their own brewery – they contract out to various local craft brewers.  So you can’t actually visit their brewery, although you can try their beers in many local pubs.

 There are other breweries located outside of Ottawa.  I haven’t visited them all, but a local newspaper, The Ottawa Citizen had a great review of 5 breweries located just outside of the city.

Ottawa Year-Round

I’ve been living in Ottawa for quite a while now (I moved here when I was 18) and I have to say that as a city to live in, it’s fantastic.  To visit……maybe not so much.  Or rather – there’s plenty to do here, but we don’t really advertize that fact.  Because Ottawa is like an apartment that you finally got the way you like it, so you go out to the parties, but don’t ever throw any at home, because then something would get broken, and you’d just have to clean up after other people, and who wants that trouble?

I’m breaking that rule.
Apart from the museums, and Parliament Hill, what do we have in Ottawa year round?  Other than just hitting up a random bar (not a bad plan) what is there to do to wile away the hours of the evening?  I’ve got just the things…..

Have you ever wanted to party in a  museum, shaped like a castle, and full of bones?  If you’re over 19 (the drinking age in Ontario), one Friday a month the Canadian Museum of Nature hosts “Nature Nocturne” a dance party in the museum itself.  Tickets cost $20; and the museum is easy to get to from downtown (bus routes 1, 5, 7, 14, or walk along the canal).

TimeKode, also on Fridays (the third Friday of every month) features music, turntables and dancing.  

Spins & Needles is great for those of you who craft and love music.  Why not combine the two?  If you don’t have a craft on the go, or didn’t bring one with you, they often provide material for something there.  In the same vein, every Tuesday night, Raw Sugar Cafe hosts Beats and Boards – Djs with a side of board games.  (Alternately, if you’re not here over a Tuesday, hit up Monopolatte – Ottawa’s only board game cafe.)

Barrymore’s Musical Hall has a retro 80s night every Sunday.  Some come dressed in their 80s best, and others come in comfortable shoes.  Show up early to get in the door, the line has been known to snake around the corner.  In the winter, there’s a coat check available.  Last time I was there, they had 80s movies playing (silently) to accompany the music.  Right on!  Hop on the 1, 2 or 7 and hop off at Somerset street.  Walk a half block down and you’re there.

 Shanghai Restaurant on Somerset has karaoke on Friday and Saturday nights with China Doll.  Dog & Pony also has karaoke at various places – always an entertaining show.  I’ve been to O’Briens with friends, although I saved everyone’s ears.

If you’re looking for something less thumpy-thumpy, and more of a laid-back get together, and you’ve got oodles of useless trivia swimming in your brain, come on out to a trivia night at a local pub.  Most locations are within the downtown core and easy to get to.  Bonus if you come to Pints and Quarts (Ps&Qs) on a Sunday night – yours truly is the host.

If you’re looking for something more intellectual, check out The Gladstone, GCTC or Arts Court for local theatre productions.  There’s also the National Arts Centre for larger productions.  The Gladstone has some pretty interesting Art Deco architecture, if you’re looking for some interesting buildings to check out.

If you’ve got your walking shoes with you, you can always hit up Ottawa’s Haunted Walk.  Tours run year round, and will educate on the city’s seedier side with their stories.  Bonus points if you stay in the Ottawa Jail Hostel – it’s rumoured to be haunted!

Ottawa Travels?

So a few weeks ago, I received two tickets to the Ottawa Travel and Vacation show, in the mail.  I have no idea why.  I mean, I went last year, yes, but I didn’t sign up for a mailing list or anything.  I entered a contest for a free trip, though, so maybe I got a consolation prize?  A “sorry we’re not sending you away, but we will make you totally jealous by giving you free tickets to a fair that will showcase all the fantastic places we aren’t sending you” prize.
Doesn’t matter.  I decided to take my mom, ’cause she’s always fun, and she has strong arms to carry all the brochures I was going to acquire.  (Tip #1: Always plan ahead by bringing someone who will be useful.  Either for carrying things, or having really sharp elbows to jostle people out of your way.)
It was held at Ottawa’s new Convention Centre, right downtown.  When we walked in, we decided to start on the left hand side (the side we were closest to) and work our way aisle by aisle.
Aisle one was Europe.  Different countries had booths, of varying size (Seriously Italy, step up your game.  And France, tone it down a little.  That’s compensating for something.  Also, tip #2: Don’t be fooled by the size of the table, or the crowd in front.  Especially in Ottawa.  The cruise ship tables were overrun in retirees in runners.)
I did pick up a few pamphlets in Europe – namely for Poland, and the Baltic States.  I have yet to visit any of those countries, and I am (not literally) dying to see Latvia and Estonia.  Perhaps I’ll be able to swing through the Baltic States plus Poland sometime.
After Europe, we ended up visiting Africa, where I got lots of info on my upcoming trip to Tanzania.  I also got to talk with some wonderful ladies from Kenya, which is fortuitous, as it might make more sense to fly into Nairobi, as it is closer to Mt. Kilimanjaro than Dar Es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania.  We also got to talk with representatives from Côte d’Ivoire, Lesotho, and Uganda.
The next aisle had exhibits from Asia, the Caribbean, and adventure travel (think Arctic Tours).  The countries from the Caribbean tend to be different from your typical resort destinations – Turks and Caicos for example. (Tip #3: This is a great aisle, because Cuba brings out the rum.  By this point, you’re ready for something to take the edge off.)
The last two aisles represented North America – one aisle for the US, and the last one for Canada.  Or rather, the last half aisle was Canada.  The other half was allllll Newfoundland.  And a bagpiper provided by Nova Scotia. (Tip #4: Newfoundland is great for freebies – pens, magnets, and salt-water taffy)
I often come into contact with people in the region who are unaware that there is a world outside their home-work corridor.  Alternately, their idea of “travel” is a resort in Cuba or Mexico that they’ve gone to every year for the past 5 years, or Florida to visit their snow-bird relatives. I was happy to see that the travel bug is still alive and well in the Ottawa area.