Ottawa Craft Beer Festival

Reported by Dawn Harvie

A few weekends ago, I was at the Ottawa Craft Beer Festival as a volunteer through Kamp Operations. While there, I had the opportunity to taste a few different beers.Bicycle Craft Brewery located on Industrial near the Trainyards were serving the Velocipede India Pale Ale (6% ABV, 70 IBU), which I had tried previously and enjoyed. This time, I tried three seasonal beers on tap. The Juan Almonte Jalapeno Pale Ale (5.2% ABV, 32 IBUs) is made with jalapenos with the seeds removed. It had a nice easy jalapeno flavour that kept going and a hint of mild spice. An interesting beer that would pair well with nachos or bbq. The Homestead Farmhouse Ale (5.2% ABV, 29 IBU) was a fantastic, refreshing beer. It had a nice fruitiness on the nose which came out on the palate. A great, easy-drinking beer that I would choose again and again. The Patio Sunshine APA (4.8% ABV, 32 IBU) certainly was the taste of sunshine on a patio. It was refreshingly citrusy with a bit of bitterness on the end. Perfect for summer!

I have yet to visit Lowertown Brewery for a meal, but I might just do that after tasting a few of their beers. They had a Blood Orange Belgium Wit (4.5% ABV, 10 IBU) was delightful. Extremely easy drinking, perfect for summer. It was a nice example of a wit with a nice spice and and a bit of a citrus tang. The Timber Slide IPA (5.6% ABV, 68 IBU) had the typical tropical fruit nose of an IPA with a nice bitterness at the end. They also had the Red Fife ABV (4.2% ABV, 20 IBU), which uses heirloom red wheat. It had a nice touch of caramel on the nose and the palate and just enough bitterness to add a freshness to it.

Brasserie Les 2 Frères was showing their Hickson Strong Beers, which are their only beers available in Ontario. The Hickson IPA (6.2% ABV, 53 IBU) tasted creamy and had notes of citrus and caramel, which followed through on the palate. The Hickson Imperial IPA (7.6%, 74 IBU) had a nutty notes with tropical fruit. The bitterness on this beer came out way at the back. The Hickson Baltic Porter (8.5%, 30 IBU) was all caramel and chocolate. It was a nice, easy porter.

Beauʼs were pouring a number of beers, but I didnʼt have an opportunity to try them all. I did try the Two Tonnes of Fun (10.5% ABV, 48 IBU), another beer that came out of the partnership between Beauʼs and Gigantic Brewing. It is one of several beers that Beauʼs brewed up to celebrate their 10-year anniversary. This is a long-boiled American barleywine that was like caramel pie in a glass without it being overly sweet on the palate. I also tried another 10-year anniversary brew produced in collaboration with Kissmeyer: Old Skål (8% ABV, 30 IBU). This beer, I understand, includes dates and maple syrup and spent time in Pinot Noir (!) barrels – a beer after my own heart! The beer tasted fresh and fruity and very much like a sour, although it isnʼt. I really enjoyed this beer so I was quite disappointed to hear that it had sold out! At least I had the opportunity to savour 4 ounces.

The last set of beers that I tasted were from Stalwart Brewing Company located in Carleton Place. They are fairly new and I enjoyed being able to taste their beers at the festival. You can find some of their beers, like most of the other breweries mention, at restaurants in the Ottawa region. I first tried the Dr. Fee Good IPA (6.8% ABV, 69 IBU) with lots of tropical fruit flavour and not too bitter on the finish. I found it to be quite smooth. The Down By the River American Wheat Ale (5.3% ABV, 29 IBU) is light and refreshing – a great summer beer. It had a wonderful lemony finish and was super easy to drink! The Zigzagger Red IPA (7% ABV, 62 IBU) was really zippy, lemony with a little roasted barley going on. I quite enjoyed it, although at 7%, itʼs a beer youʼd want to go easy on. The last beer I tried from Stalwart was the Bad Moon Rye Stout (6.1% ABV, 40 IBU), which was rich with chocolate and coffee.

If youʼre interested in beer, I highly recommend a trip to the Ottawa Craft Beer Festival next year. Thereʼs an easy, relaxed atmosphere. Itʼs a great opportunity to taste a good number of local brews and try those seasonable beers they have on tap.