New Limburg Brewing
2353 Nixon Road, Simcoe Ontario
As we pulled into the second stop on our whirlwind brewery tour of Norfolk County, I sat for a moment with a big ale drinking grin across my face. I was finally here at New Limburg Brewing, a place that’s long held a spot on my brewery beerket list. I am grateful that pursuing this blog has lead us here, a brewery only two hours’ drive from home but one I am not sure I would have ever made it to otherwise.
New Limburg Brewing is well known for making some of the best Belgian inspired ales in Ontario, if not all of Canada. To be honest, I have a lot to learn about Belgian ales. You have to remember I cut my craft teeth on West Coast style IPAs during my early Vegas trips. Sure, I buy the Chimay and St. Bernardus gift pack most years and enjoy them immensely. But I just don’t give them as much thought as I do the new release of a hazy IPA. I was excited to have the opportunity to try New Limburg’s take on traditional Belgian style ales.
Besides the renowned ales, there was another reason why this brewery was so high on my beerket list. The brewery and bistro style restaurant is located in a decommissioned rural elementary school on the outskirts of Simcoe Ontario.
As we snapped some pictures of the exterior I quickly realized how much it reminded me of my elementary school in Dresden Ontario. As we were led through the dimly lit halls toward the back patio, I quickly lost our host as I lingered the hallways. What a blast from my past, the exposed brick and painted concrete walls, polished speckled floors rounding up on to the walls, bulletin boards repurposed for coming brewery events. How cool is this.
I was a bit of a smart ass in school, ok, I was a lot of a smart ass in school. So it was nice to walk through the halls and enter the beer garden instead of the principal's office. They said I'd never amount to anything, well look at me now, I'm drinking in the school yard and writing about it, take that Mrs. Hardy.
We were led out to the expansive beer garden featuring an outdoor bar, music stage, concrete ping pong table and even a sandy area doubling as a beach volley ball courts. Lots of space to social distance with multiple seating options and even a bit of a nature area to explore.
The service we received was exceptional. Attentive without being over bearing. After noticing us taking pictures he brought by a freshly poured stout in order to capture that perfect head. He even brought us samples of the Quad without us prompting. Really exceptional experience.
The Geven family moved from Limburg, a province in the Netherlands to Limburg, a province in Belgium and eventually outside Simcoe Ontario. Limburg must be really special, because I grew up in Dresden Ontario and have yet to name anything in its honour. The family found a decommissioned school, aptly named it "New Limburg" and transformed it into a brewery and restaurant with the goal of bringing a slice of Belgian culture to Ontario.
This is truly a family business with son Mischa as head brewer, father Jo managing operations, daughter Milou overseeing the lab and Mother Yvonne designing the artwork and preparing dishes in the restaurant kitchen. The whole family oversees the taproom.
Traditional Belgian snack foods are available such as bitterballen, a breaded deep fried meatball. Also available is a selection of house made pizzas including their "Sloppy Jo" which is also what they call me after a couple Tripels.
Unfortunately the classroom taproom was closed at this time due to current restrictions. But being a world renowned (since we are talking Belgian beers) beer blogger they allowed exclusive access to the taproom to take a few quick pictures.
The taproom is warm and inviting with the wood floors and exposed ceilings. The wall of windows brightens the space and a piano sits idle in the corner awaiting yet another round of Sweet Caroline. The walls retained their classroom chalkboards where I dream the staff force macro beer drinkers to write "I will drink craft, not crap" over and over until they swear to never take another sip of Bud Light.
New Limburg has a dangerously amazing bottle shop. My wife may her home accessory stores but I have the New Limburg bottle shop. The dedicated room had a full selection of all the menu offerings and a center table where they wrap your purchase, nice touch.
Did you learn anything in school? Tell us about the Beer!
Belgian Blond – Light straw and strawberry nose, with a bright peppery citrus and honey flavour. Delicious and incredibly smooth at 7.1% ABV.
Wit – Orange citrus nose, the taste is light, tart and crisp like an orange juice mimosa with a dry finish.
Jaune Sour – floral citrus nose with a bright lemon citrus taste and faint tangerine sweetness, lemon pith finish.
Black Sheep Stout – Roasted cocoa nose, smooth mouthfeel tasting milk chocolate and faint smokiness. Smores in a glass!
Belgian IPA – Aromas of honey lemon citrus with tastes of toffee, light banana and honey leading into a peppery lemon pith bitterness finish, a dangerously smooth 8.5%
It's fulfilling to cross a brewery off your beerket list, and New Limburg should be on every beer nerd's list. It's even better when you have an exceptional experience filled with great beer and hospitality. This visit has inspired me to learn more about Belgian beer and its history. Luckily, I learn by doing, and in this case the 'doing' means a return to enjoy more Belgian style ales at New Limburg.
Stay positive and drink good beer.