Did you know that you can bike to 3 major breweries in the core of #HamOnt in under an hour? I’m not sure how much #HamOnt is too much #HamOnt, but we took it upon ourselves to rock O’s Clothes shirts and see just how easy it would be to DIY a craft beer tour on a Sobi. The verdict: dangerously easy. With a route like this one, you’ll be doing craft beer rounds with every afternoon workout.
If you’re thinking of doing this tour yourself, the one point I will stress is to pace yourself. This isn’t a bar hop - it’s a collection of carefully crafted breweries who all deserve the same attention and interest. It is also absolutely possible to get a DUI on a bicycle, so drink water, stay within your limits and be sure to snack on the munchies at each place! I’d also recommend taking parks and off-road trails whenever possible - our map’s above!
To start, we found ourselves at the new kids on the block, Fairweather Brewing Company. I’d heard rumours about the aesthetic of this place but it wasn’t until I stepped foot in their crisp white ambience with hanging planters and clean hardwood that I realized just how pretty it is. As the first stop on our tour, we pulled up a chair at the bar and eagerly ordered a conservative number of drinks (we did have a whole tour ahead of us). Between our little bicycle crew, we had managed to try 4 different brews off this menu. We had a lovely conversation with Brent and learned a lot about Belgium and American beers!
Their “cheese pizza” beer - our classification of their base or staple - was the Grizette, which Brent described to us as a beer that was popular in Belgium back in the day, when beer was safer than water (can you imagine a time like that?). We also tried their dry-hopped Kettle Sour which showcased what Brent was calling “good bacteria." We learned a lot about the science that goes into each of these creations and you could tell this was a true passion of his. I can easily see this spot being a Tinder date hotspot for McMaster students with its easy accessibility and close proximity to the university! Fairweather Brewing? I’d swipe right on that. They also have neighbours soon joining the beer scene just around the corner this fall, so keep your taste buds ready for Grain and Grit!
Price: 6 oz for between $2.50 and $3
Insta-aesthetic: white, rustic, plants, wood
Cups: stemless wine glasses with frosted branded logos
Music taste: Electric Eel - MGMT
Food: Cake and Loaf pretzels
Company: there was a baby here who was fascinated by putting cheerios in his mom’s beer (10/10 entertainment value and hey! It’s family friendly).
Up next was Collective Arts - older, wiser, and down by the water. I’ve been a big fan of Collective Arts and Nickel Brook for a while now, so I was eager to see their tasting room in the flesh. Collective seems to be expanding bigger and wider every time I pick up a 6 pack and they have nestled themselves nicely by the Bayfront in Hamilton. With a beautiful patio that hosts live music, yoga and other special events, as well as a cozy and artistic bottle room, this place has it all! Here we grabbed some flights to share. We tried everything on the menu and there was some clear favourites that varied based on each of our preferences. The thing that struck us as most unique about Collective, was the variety! Not just in colour and bottle labels, but the variety in taste was unreal.
Their “cheese pizza” brew appeared to be the Stash and the atmosphere was definitely more industrial. We were helped by the lovely Devin and she even sold us an awesome Ontario-wide craft beer guide (maybe a little ambitious for on a Sobi - but we are the ambitious city, right?).
Price: 6 oz for around $3
Insta-aesthetic: industrial, abstract, laid back
Cups: mini pint glasses
Music taste: Island in the Sun - Weezer
Food: potato chips
Company: old friends playing board games
Up next we hit the town to catch Merit Brewing on James St. North. This place is always boppin’ when I walk by and it seemed like the perfect location to take us into the evening. When we got there, we were pleased to discover they had opened their patio! This place definitely had more hustle and bustle than the other two, but in a friendly and approachable way. The A/C was high-velocity and we all agreed to sum up the experience as, “high quality friends, high quality napkins, low quality photos” because the lighting in that place has a lot going on and it’s difficult to focus your camera at times. This was all a sign to put our Instagrams away and enjoy each other’s company among friends and strangers - exactly what Merit seems to be about.
We tried their latest brews here which were a S’mores and London Fog Milkshake IPA. I must say, both were delicious but for completely different reasons. The S’mores was a dark beer with chocolatey undertones whereas the Milkshake was fairly light and had an Earl Grey bite (look at me sounding like a craft beer connoisseur). The staff were approachable, friendly and laid back. If you're feeling extra adventurous and like your tour is just getting started, you could also try hitting up Rust City Brewery on King William just down the street!
Price: $13 for a flight (averages around $3.50 for the 6 oz measurement)
Insta-aesthetic: dark, exposed concrete, lots of wood and dark grained tables, handsome
Cups: light-bulb themed wine glasses
Music taste: indie
Food: huuge selection and very tasty. I tried their pickle and chickpea salad, and fries!
Company: very communal and social
This adventure had us ready to call it a night by the end, but it was so fun and incredibly educational as well! All three breweries were more than willing to explain to us the reason behind each creation as well as the process for which they made their beer. For a better idea of what their full menus look like, check out Collective Arts, Merit Brewing and Fairweather Brewing Company online.