Muskoka Beercation Day 2: The Muskokas
The Beercation saga continues as our hero awakes at the Muskoka BeerSpa with a mild headache and a box of pastries at the door. How is a beer blogger a hero you may ask? Let’s examine this definition from Christopher Reeve: “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles”
You see although I had conquered three craft breweries just the day before, today I must take on two more.
This was the day I had most been looking forward to, exploring Muskoka’s natural beauty from the inside of a brewery taproom. It was a beautiful cool morning and since the breweries weren’t yet open we explored Clear Lake by canoe. Strolling through the Muskoka Beerspa property towards Clear Lake is wonderful. They’ve done a great job of creating a center gathering spot with the pool, hot tub, spas and seating areas in one general location. Keep an eye on their Instagram as they often host concerts and events in this central spot. Around the property you’ll find many fire pits complete with Muskoka chairs, firewood, lighters and fire starters. At the beach you’ll find canoes, kayaks, stand up paddle boards and lifejackets ready for you. No need to sign anything out or book a time, just grab and go!
Once again, let’s have Mrs. McGoo show you around the property. Turn on the volume and enjoy another guided tour:
Now on to the breweries! When looking at a map of the lower Muskoka region including Gravenhurst, Torrance and Bracebridge, it appears like there is a lot of distance between breweries. But the average drive time from one to the next is only about 20 minutes and it’s always a beautiful drive. If you want to expand your adventure beyond the borders of this map you can visit Boshkung Brewing, Canvas Brewing and two more Lake of Bays outposts. So get yourself a designated driver or jump on a guided beer tour and get a taste of the Muskokas.
Sawdust City Brewing Co. 397 Muskoka Rd N. Gravenhurst ON.
sawdustcitybeer.com Visiting Gravenhurst's Sawdust City was the capstone of this beercation. Beyond brewing some of Ontario's best craft beer, the Sawdust team just seems like cool people. A few years back, the Sawdust crew threw a pool party for popular beer writer and beerstagrammer Drunk Polkaroo at his house in Hamilton, how amazing is that?!
Sawdust City was established in July 2013 in Gravenhurst's former Canadian Tire and has been brewing excellent craft beer since. They brew everything from barley wines, to pastry stouts to sours, and they nail every style.
We arrived at the 11am stated opening time like a couple kids on Christmas, only to be told that the taproom doesn't open until 12pm and only retail was open. At the stroke of noon we took our seat at their beautiful and comfortable wood bar so that I could study the huge tap list. Here we met front of the house lead and bartender Matt. We tell Matt we'd like a couple of flights. To which he responds "Do you want 4, 6 or a 12 sample flight?" A 12 beer flight! Exsqueeze me? Baking powder? I'll take the 4 sample flight...NOT.
The taproom is comfortable with high ceilings, warm lighting, wood tables and accents. One side features a wall of windows looking into the brewery with the other featuring their long bar and focal point tap list. Can't decide on a beer?... just do as I did and try them all!
It was nice to just take our time tasting through the flight, soaking up the atmosphere and chatting with the awesome staff. The taproom started filling up immediately and we could tell they were woefully understaffed, in fact it was only Matt working the taproom. But he was killing it, getting people seating, taking orders and pouring beers all while carrying a conversation with us. A great experience we can't wait to have again.
(Check out the gallery below by using the >)
Muskoka Brewery 1964 Muskoka Beach Rd, Bracebridge, ON.
muskokabrewery.com Can you even have a Muskoka beercation without visiting Muskoka Brewing?…sure, but it’d be a lot cooler if you did. Established in 1996, Muskoka Brewing has grown to be one of the largest craft breweries in Ontario. In additional to a full line of craft beer covering many styles, they have recently branched out into hard sparkling waters and spirits.
Upon arrival we were surprised to see that most of the taproom seating is outside, with only a few tables inside. I suspect this was just an adjustment made for Covid protocols. Inside is largely retail with a huge selection of merch featuring the iconic Muskoka chair logo. I bought the perfect Muskoka Brewery glass:
Their patio is a fair size and most of is covered by a large wood canopy. The patio features table service and we found the staff to be really friendly and genuinely excited to talk about their beer. Here's the best part, you are able to order a small sample (about 2oz) of any beer on tap at no charge. The table next to us were slamming trays of samples like jello shooters at a bachelorette party. Today’s tasting highlight was their Winter Beard double chocolate cranberry stout, Harvest ale and of course the Double Mad Tom.
Although we had a nice visit and service was great, I think we expected more from one of Ontario’s largest and most well-known craft breweries. it's a foremost a merch store then a taproom and patio. The brewery could easily expand their patio to include more fire pits and muskoka chairs. Inside could feature more seating and play up the Canadiana cottage theme. With many other Ontario craft breweries expanding into brewpubs, I wouldn't be surprised to see Muskoka Brewing do the same. The brewery is still well worth a visit if in the area or if you are a fan on Muskoka Brewing and hey.... free samples! (Check out the gallery below by using the >)
Back at the Beerspa we lounged at the beach with a couple beers before stoking a campfire and enjoying some s’mores. It was nice to just relax and enjoy some of the resorts amenities. The night’s VHS movie selection was the 1996 coming of age hit "Black Sheep" starring our favourite comedy opposites Chris Farley and David Spade. Thanks for reading and be sure to stick around for the final Muskoka Beercation blog post that covers our last full day at the Beerspa and even a brewery detour on the way home. Stay positive and drink good beer.