Barncat Artisal Ales
1600 Industrial Road b5, Cambridge
To start off our list is the ‘Small But Mighty’ Barncat Artisan Ales, which is located fairly centrally within Cambridge (just west of the Cambridge Centre). And although it is a small location, and only open to visitors 9 hours a week (they really put the ‘micro’ in microbrewery) they truly brew exceptional beer.
Despite having just opened in 2015, Barncat Artisan Ales has already brewed dozens of unique (and tasty) beers, ranging from the strong ‘Rat Queen imperial Stout to the lighter ‘Baby Larry’ IPA. They’re continuously changing what’s available, so be sure to follow their website (or their Twitter) so you don’t miss something great. This summer, it’s all about the Double Raspberry Juice/Double Raspberry IPA.
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4. Block Three Brewing Company
1430 King Street North, St. Jacobs, Township of Woolwich
Next up on our list is Block Three Brewing Company, which just so happens to be the first of two entries located in the Township of Woolwich. Standing on the northern end of St. Jacobs proper, right by the Conestogo River, Block Three has all about brewing beautiful beers since they opened in 2013.
They’ve got three core beers, and a rotating range of additional beers – most of their products are available on tap and in the bottle. Their flagship brew is arguably the King St. Saison, but if you’re feeling peachy, come by on a Tuesday to try the ‘Sunshine and Peaches’ beer (or you can try their Mango IPA).
Block Three is a popular place, and many visitors coming to check out the famous St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market would do well to head a bit further north to try some samples. The décor inside is quite distinctive, featuring large wooden tables with a crokinole board at almost every one. Cold beer and crokinole – what more needs to be said? View their website here.
3. Bitte Schön Brauhaus
68 Huron Street, New Hamburg, Township of Wilmot
Now, let’s venture west of Kitchener-Waterloo to the Township of Wilmot’s largest community: New Hamburg. As anyone who’s read our articles on the history of the Waterloo Region knows (like the Kitchener and Waterloo articles), there is a strong German presence here, and there has been for over two centuries.
One need only look at the place names to see it: Kitchener was once Berlin, and New Hamburg is… well, a ‘new’ Hamburg. So a region with authentic German roots deserves its very own authentic Brauhuas, and Bitte Schön Brauhaus is just that!
Bitte Schön Brauhaus is a small and cozy place with great beer. They keep six beers on tap, rotating them regularly, and they also offer delicious snacks to enjoy while imbibing samples (or full glasses) of their German-style beer. Keeping with the German theme, snack options include pretzels, deli meat, and pickles.
‘Bitte Schön’ means ‘please’ in German – and as the friendly staff here would surely attest, you are very much welcome to come for the range of beers, and stay for the good food and conversation. Great prices for great beer – learn more here.
2. Grand River Brewing in Cambridge
295 Ainslie Street, Cambridge
Located in a large and historic building (the old Galt Knife Company), just south of Downtown Cambridge, is Grand River Brewing. Just over 10 years ago, Bob Hanenberg and his wife Jane Southgate decided to open a microbrewery as something of a retirement project. Over the next few years, however, Grand River Brewing started to take off.
Bob Hanenberg had worked with horses for much of his life, and incorporating the building’s history, he decided early on to brew what he termed “a working man’s beer,” with their first two products being called the Galt Knife Old Style and the Ploughman’s Ale.
As it stands, Grand River Brewing has earned numerous awards for their beers, including recognition from the Canadian Craft Beer Awards, multiple from the US Open, and many more. Grand River Brewing continues to brew a wide range of beers, and their current stated goal is to develop a range of flavourful beers with lower alcohol contents. They offer tours (get the details here).
1. Murphy’s Law Distillery in Elmira
90 Earl Martin Drive Unit 2, Elmira, Township of Woolwich
Hold on – isn’t this list about the top 5 breweries in Cambridge and the Waterloo Region Townships? And isn’t a brewery a place that brews beers? The answer to both of these questions is a resounding yes. So why on earth is a distillery – a place that produces liquor, like vodka or gin – on this list? Because Murphy’s Law Distillery is just that cool.
Another reason is that Murphy’s Law Distillery isn’t making strong-proof bottles of liquor, per se. No, what’s being made here is moonshine. That’s right, that home-made solution to Prohibition is evidently alive and well, even though alcohol is now legal across the USA and Canada.
Moonshine, or as it was appetizingly called in the northern states, ‘bathtub gin,’ is usually strong, but it can vary drastically in taste, style, and potency. At Murphy’s Law, it’s all about authentic, traditional methods in order to produce moonshine that is both the real deal and original.
It all goes back to the time owner Ben Murphy spent in the USA; there, he learned the ‘ancient’ art of moonshining, saw the market for it down there, and decided to bring it to Canada.
Murphy’s Law offers multiple flavours, including delicious options like Apple Pie Moonshine (22%), made with local apple cider; Caramel Moonshine (30%); Maple Cream Moonshine (22%), made with real, local maple syrup; and even Root Beer Moonshine (22%). Many have won prizes, but perhaps best of all, they each come packaged in iconic, twine-bound Mason jars.
Murphy’s Law Distillery is a unique place – at present, it’s the only Ontario distillery focused exclusively on moonshine – and it has a range of high quality products. Plus, they offer tours! So if you want to feel like an authentic Prohibition-era moonshiner, be sure to visit this distillery in Elmira. Get details here.
There are, of course, several other microbreweries throughout the Waterloo Region, each with their own unique charms (and beers). The best way to find your favourite is to check them out for yourself! And also, for those of you looking to venture beyond the borders of the Waterloo Region, don’t miss our Top 5 Breweries in Guelph!
Finally, if you love the breweries in the Waterloo Region that you’ve decided to move close to one of them – we’d love to help you out! So please don’t hesitate to contact us if you’re looking to buy a home in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, or the surrounding areas. Cheers!
Written by Will Kummer
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