Sunday, April 11, 2010

Peterborough For Beer

Peterborough, Ontario. It's a Junior A Hockey powerhouse, a passionate supporter of its Lacrosse team, and the gateway to the Kawartha Lakes cottage region. I was surprised recently to learn that it's also becoming something of a beer hotspot, both for home-grown craft brewing and for imports. I had a chance to pay a couple of visits to Peterborough (approximately 130 kms. north-east of Toronto) in the past month, and I'm glad I went!

My first stop was 300 Charlotte St., the home of the Publican House Brewery. Not so flashy on the outside, but inside they were sampling and selling three tasty products. A stout and a "west coast style India Pale Ale" were available only in 64 oz. Growlers, or big glass jugs for the uninitiated.

I went home with several cans of a very pleasant House Ale, which I found to be quite robust for a 4.8% light beer. It would find a place of honour on my cottage deck this summer, and now all I need is the cottage and the deck! There's a patio next door to the actual brewery on Charlotte St, so perhaps that'll do once the weather warms up a bit.

Now it was time for the main event, a visit to the St. Veronus Cafe and Tap Bar at 129 Hunter St. West. What a nice building. What a great restaurant! WHAT A SUPER BAR!

It's hard to tell from the photo, but four out of the five draught taps are for Belgian beers, and the fifth is for Stiegl from Austria. This would be big news in Toronto, or any other Canadian city, but is really quite spectacular for Peterborough. The fridge in the background protects at least a dozen Belgian offerings that would be very unusual to find pretty much anywhere in this country.

I met up with my friends Rick and Cathy, and it's thanks to them that I even found out about this wonderful place! (By the way, you Yarning Fans out there may enjoy visiting Cathy's Project Fleece blog.) The food menu is as true to Belgium as the beer list - mussels, frites and stoemp all make an appearance. I opted for a Carbonnades Flamandes, a sandwich featuring a ribeye steak stewed in Leffe Brune beer, in a sourdough bread. One of the finest sandwiches I have ever tasted.

However, for us it was all about the beer, and here's a look at our round. Wow!
A nice Bavarian Weihenstephaner for Rick, a lovely Leffe Brune for me, and a cherry flavoured Mort Subite for Cathy. All served in their appropriate glasses. A Leffe Brune, on tap, in Peterborough! Yum. On that particular day, St. Veronus was offering, as their speciality draught, a Russian Imperial Stout from southwestern Ontario's Wellington brewery. Our server assured me that he was able to sample quite a lot of it!

I was able to sample one more Belgian beer that day, and I liked it so much that I came back two weeks later to try it again! It's a 9% from the Brasserie de l'Abbaye des Rocs, another Brune that seemed a tad more bitter than the Leffe version. Hey, I'm not supposed to even like dark beer much, so what's the deal here?

Here's my other treat from Visit #2, an 8% Gouden Carolus Ambrio. I've never even heard of this, yet there it sits in a fridge in Peterborough. Yum! I found it perhaps a bit more sour to the taste than the l'Abbaye, but it sure grows on you with each mouthful.

I'm told that St. Veronus regularly rotates their selection of Belgian brews; indeed, their "recently acquired" beer menu insert was quite different two weeks after Visit #1. This is all very impressive!

There is yet another Peterborough beer spot to try out, and it'll mean another visit from me, hopefully in the near future. It's the Olde Stone Brewery, just around the corner from St. Veronus, and it will be interesting to try their products and compare them to the Publican. Roll on, summer weather weekends!
NEXT: Meanderings in Michigan!

1 comment:

cathycairn said...

What a great report from p'boro and thanks for the shout out!