Forget beaches and sand in your shoes. It’s autumn and the time is ripe for a road trip to enjoy hues of orange, red, yellow and amber.
Among the best craft brewery/fall colours routes is the Lake Huron shoreline, where 100 kilometres of taste and leaf-peeping awaits along Highway 21 from Bayfield to Southampton.
The route has a six-pack of small, independent craft breweries worthy of your attention, with bottle shops available to bring fresh finds home.
At Bayfield Brewing (14 Bayfield Main St., Bayfield), there are four core beers here, each a homage to the village.
Navigating Lieutenant is a light 4.3 per cent alcohol lager named for British naval officer and surveyor Henry Wolsey Bayfield, who literally put the picturesque village on the map. Its Woollen Shop Brown Ale gets its name from the brewery’s former use as a woollen mill in the 1940s.
Cabinet Maker, a Canadian pale ale, is a nod to a local 19th-century craftsman. Captain Ronny, a 55 IBU, six per cent alcohol IPA, is named for brewery patron Ron Keys.
A farm-based brewery where hops are grown on site, River Road Brewing and Hops, (35449 Bayfield River Rd., Bayfield) has two core beers: a wee heavy style called Up Your Kilt delivering a malty flavour that’s the antithesis of a hoppy IPA and Blind Descent, an oatmeal stout incorporating local oats. On the entry spectrum, there’s County Blonde, a mild malt-forward beer featuring all Huron County ingredients.
Seasonals at Square Brew (430 Parsons Court, Goderich) include Ontario’s West Coast IPA, fermented with Norwegian Farmhouse yeast. It’s a 6.5 per cent alcohol strong beer. Mainstays are Square One Pilsner with German hops and Canadian malt, along with the dark and malty Vienna is Waiting.
Committed to a diverse selection of beers, Grey Matter Beer Company (726 Queen St., Kincardine) has seasonals that include Origins of Fire, a collaboration with Tartan Tusk Pub in Kincardine. Origins of Fire is a blonde fruit ale featuring 200 kilograms of roasted Ontario peaches.
Core beers include Checkmate Helles Lager and Mission to Mars, an American pale ale brewed with Citra and Ekuanot to create a hop-driven aperitif.
At Wismer House (705 Goderich St., Port Elgin), a new era dawns for a historic watering hole and live entertainment mecca in one of Lake Huron’s most popular beach towns. The new brewery featuring a rooftop patio is under construction as an addition to the downtown bar. Recipes and brand names are yet to be announced.
Meanwhile, “The Wiz” pub has a well-curated craft beer board featuring Muskoka, MacLean’s from Hanover, Cowbell, Nickel Brook, Beau’s and Side Launch.
Outlaw Brew Co. (196 High St., Southampton) is located in the old Southampton Hotel, circa 1867. Outlaw focuses on accessible beers, including the caramel and malty Bronco Copper Ale. At the other end of the scale, Sheriff is a 65 IBU West Coast style IPA brewed with British Columbia grain and California-grown hops.
Southern Lass Honey and Heather is intriguing, brewed with local wildflower honey and heather tips imported from Scotland. Pour and pause for the lavender aroma.
NEW AND NOTED
Muskoka’s new fall lineup includes a graduate from its Moonlight Kettle innovation brewing series. Equinox is an American wheat with tart notes of black cherries. Watch for it at the LCBO in mid-October.
Across the border, Pure Michigan and Short’s Brewing of Bellaire, Mich., have partnered on an all-Michigan IPA to inspire fall travel. Short’s used malt from three Michigan sources, hops from two suppliers in the state, and yeast from the Upper Penninsula. Pure Michigan IPA will be in wide distribution starting Oct. 6. The Wolverine State has more than 300 craft breweries.
There’s a new beer release coming from Forked River in London to celebrate its Forktoberfest party on Oct. 26. Forktoberfest, in addition to craft beer of course, features Sikorski sausages — but we hope no lederhosen.
Wayne Newton is a freelance journalist based in London.