Doing things the Niagara way, that is how the Oast House Brewers put value on their microbrewery. Reflecting this ideal, Oast House strives to honour Niagara`s regional agricultural traditions and gastronomic reputation of being host to gourmet food and beverages. The products used to make each batch of beer are locally sourced by Niagara farmers who are working in conjunction with Oast House Brewers to produce the freshest ingredients possible.
Through their business structure, Oast House Brewers is aiming to add more dimension to their Niagara-on-the-Lake community as well create a more diverse food and beverage industry in the famous Niagara region. By expanding the small craft beer industry in Niagara, Oast House Brewers is working alongside the already established wine industry to help make Niagara a well rounded beverage destination for wine and beer.
Oast House Brewers is found on Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake in a refurbished red barn conveniently located near the old town district. Two accomplished sommeliers Cian MacNeill and Kevin Somerville and Mike Berlis, a winemaker and brewmaster, have already had a taste of the Niagara wine industry, and in 2012 decided to pursue their passion for beer. The diverse background of these three native Niagara owners has allowed for fresh ideas for beer production at Oast House. Their past experiences range from formal brewery education to working in the local wine industry, and connections with the Niagara College Teaching Brewery program.
Oast House Brewers is designed following the example of Niagara viticulture and wineries, offering tours and tastings to visitors. They provide beer tastings of their current brews, tours of their brewery and beer making process, retail their products on site, and have connection with various special events. The brewery also holds ties to restaurants and special events where Oast House beer can be paired with food as well and sold in local establishments. Oast House beer has made its way to larger scale distribution on shelves at the LCBO.
Their commitment to craft beer brewed in small batches embodies Niagara’s famous farm to table or the emerging regional farm to glass concept. Partnerships with local farmers have been set up to supply the brewery with hops for their use and for sourcing other key ingredients from nearby suppliers. For three local business partners committed to their ties with the community, producing and serving local can be something to be proud of.
Oast House Brewers has a distinct flair to their brewing flavour including unique pale ales and also styles that are similar to some traditional beers that were once brewed in European farmhouses. These styles include their own version of a Belgian style Saison, a type of ale that is rooted in the past from French speaking Southern regions of Belgium that was brewed in the fall to refresh farm workers during harvest season, and kept well into winter months. The Oast House Saison exhibits a complex taste that mixes different aromas, making it a very versatile beer in flavour and a great for pairing with food. They also showcase a Northern France Biere de Garde, originating from beer styles that were once brewed in farmhouses in France, that often profile fewer hops and more malt flavours. Both the Oast House Saison and Biere de Garde is bottle conditioned in a 750 ml bottle, meaning they experience a period of re-fermentation, and are sealed with a cork and cage, similar to many bottles of sparkling wine. They also produce a beer called the Barnraiser Country Ale, which has a slight bitter taste due to the large amount of hops present. Oast House Brewers also produce a variety a seasonal beers that will change monthly and in accordance to what is in season. There are plans to introduce new styles of beer as they continue to experiment with different flavours, ingredients and styles.
Oast House Brewery believes in the goal to “have fun, push the limits and make tasty beer”, which is clearly demonstrated through their approach to innovative beer that brings a different edge to the Niagara’s existing beverage industry.