Alright, buckle in! This is a long one full of great beer from 3 beautiful breweries in London Ontario. Each place approaches serving beer differently. While I was drinking these greats beers I was also taking in their unique environments.
At Anderson Craft Ales you have two great options. Sit at the bar and have a great chat with the bartenders about the great beer they have to offer, or if you are with some friends you can go upstairs to these large tables with long benches to seat all you like. Many great board games reside upstairs including giant jenga, crokinole and corn in the hole. Not to mention the front row seat of the whole brewing operation. The balcony view of the tanks is very unique and creates a very cool connection between the brewery and their customers. Many of the times they are playing great music over their stereo that plays throughout the whole brewery. Tunes include Queen to Coldplay to Vulfpeck. Enough music for all to enjoy. All of these things go into creating a great setting for enjoying delicious beer.
A great drinking environment is crucial for enjoying any beer. A brewery should have the proper place to enjoy the beer that they have to offer. There should be a sense of harmony between creating and serving beer. I’ve seen many breweries become successful because the experience of being at the brewery was enjoyable.
In Kingston, Stone City Ales has created a unique and hip stop to visit. An enclosed Brewing operation that connects to their restaurant makes a tight but comfortable spot to enjoy explosive flavours. At Riverhead they have a giant window facing their tanks to show off their grand potential for great beer. Both of these approaches are like fish tanks. Glass separates you and what you’re looking at as if you probably shouldn’t go in there.
Here in London there is a greater approach towards accommodating many different kinds of patrons. As I said, for Anderson Craft Ales you can sit and chat for hours with knowledgeable staff or sit upstairs with friends and watch the process all happen, all the while listening to great tunes. While I was there I was thinking about all the hard work that has gone into creating great beer.
While there I had a Belgian Tripel that honest to goodness tasted like it was 4% and made super sweet but turns out it’s 9.5%. The beer is practically a light sugar beer but not the type that hurts your teeth. Very light on texture, which practically felt like a wine. There are hints of honey and spice which place this beer in the “how in the world?” Category but nails it.
I also tried the Spring Ale in my flight. I’m not too sure what this beer is trying to be. A hoppy beer or a dark beer? Either way it tasted quite good and I look forward to trying it again.
The Local Pale Ale is a super light pale ale that doesn’t ask too much from the drinker except to embrace the tiny bubbles that reach the surface and enjoy the light cloud of hops that bloom during the aftertaste. For a beer made with all local ingredients it sure has some interesting accents and represents the region wonderfully.
The stand out was definitely the Stout. If you enjoy a nice iced coffee this beer is for you. Not only the roasted malts but the overall coffee taste matched the brewery’s environment perfectly. The lights were dimmed. People were laughing, having a good time and there was slight music in the background. It honestly felt like a coffeeshop. It just felt natural having a cold bubbly cup of coffee at the table.
Our next stop was London Brewing Co-Op. As we opened the door there was a loud “WOOO” coming from the back end of the room. My eyes went straight towards a family having a great time playing some foosball. Right then I knew that this would be a fun spot to enjoy a few beers. The space has been managed quite well with the brewing tanks just across from the bar top. Nice big tables for big groups at the front and some high tops at the back make this place feel much more than just a place to have a drink, it’s a place to have fun and make new friends.
Speaking of new friends, the staff was excellent. Right away I could tell that they enjoy being there just as much as we did. They made a great effort in learning our names and making sure we were well taken care of.
On top of that, their knowledge of each beer was great! As I was ordering a flight, I was given detailed descriptions of each beer which made each one sound tempting.
I love how they serve their flights. Brass coins label each beer and rest on an old cask board. To help you lift your beer is a cool copper pipe handle. Such a neat rustic looking device. I really want one for home.
As for the beers themselves, on the left there is the fantastic Norfolk Red. Such a beautiful red/copper colour with a slight head to it. Most red ales have an upfront flavour and don’t really go anywhere with it, but this fine brew goes down a rabbit hole of warm flavours. Nothing too crazy but for a small sample it was full bodied and tasty.
To the right is the Workhorse IPA. Like I said in my post on Instagram, this is a full on IPA. A lot of hops right at the first sip unravel into spices and hints of maltyness. I like how the beer develops in flavour rather than just throwing hops at my face.
Next up is Tolpuddle Porter. Exactly what you want from a Porter. Perfect for cold Spring days where you want something to warm you up but still has refreshing sweetness. Nice roasted malts and the slightest hint of dark chocolate throughout. A very natural tasting beer.
Finally, Southwest Wheat. Such a clean looking and tasting beer. Super light on flavour but the flavour that is there is sweet. Tiny little bubbles keep the aftertaste short.
I really enjoyed my time at the Co-op and I see my self going back there many times.
Our last stop was the brand new Storm Stayed Brewery on the other side of town. What used to be a dive bar called Coves is now this crisp and clean brewery. Considering how new this brewery is, I’m surprised how many beers they have. If I remember correctly there were about 9 different beers you could try, and pretty much hitting every part of the beer spectrum.
Of course I got a flight because when you have such a wide selection, you gotta try as many as you can. I started off with Daybreak Blonde Ale. This cute little beer pops with fruity fragrance and nice light sweetness. Sitting at 18 IBU (International Bitter Units, which really means how much is this beer going to taste like a pine tree?) this Blonde Ale is a great contrast to the hoppy IPAs I had earlier.
The odd ball out on this flight is their Oatmeal Stout. Safe Harbour is a very appropriate name for this brew. Tastes exactly what you would expect for a nice thick stout, not too sweet but definitely no bitterness.
The last two are both IPAs but almost entirely different. In Flux is a super light session IPA, almost closer to a pale ale. Very crushable and was a great warm up to Randonée!
Wow lots of hops in this one. Someone should have yelled “Timber” when pouring this pine tree into a glass. Much sweeter compared to earlier IPAs, would be great on a patio. (SOON).
I have the feeling that Storm Stayed will develop a different environment for their building as they age. Right now it just seems so new (because it is).
It was nice to see that every place we went to was full of people having a great time. Everyone had smiles on their faces and the chatter was so full of life. London is a lucky city to have these fine establishments.