20466 Lagoon Rd, Blenheim, ON.
There is just something that feels right about drinking beer in a barn. Growing up in rural Ontario we spent many Friday nights shooting the shit over some beers in someone’s barn. It may have been my barn, your barn or someone’s barn you just met. We were all friends. The process was simple: grab a beer from the old rusty fridge, turn over a pail or lean against a dangerous farm implement and commence the shooting of shit. Blenheim Ontario’s Red Barn Brewing has given all of Chatham Kent the opportunity to experience drinking beer in a barn. But unlike my younger days, it’s really good beer in a really nice barn.
The brewery is hard to miss as you approach from Chatham, that classic barn shape in brilliant red and trimmed in white welcomes you to pull in for a beer or three. There is some serious wow factor as you enter the front doors into the cavernous barn. The interior is completely open and the peak of the ceiling must be at least 30’ tall. As you walk in, your eye is drawn to the huge corner bar built from barn board and accented with corrugated steel. Above the bar is a loft where instead of straw bales they hold special events.
We arrived at opening and had just gotten seated when co-owner and brewer Denny pauses at our table curious of all the picture taking. A couple weeks prior a friend of mine, and grade school friend of Denny had told him all about the blog. In addition to talking me up, he also brought me 11 different Red Barn brews to try and we enjoyed them all. Denny recognized the Hop Happy logo on my mask and we had an instant rapport.
Red Barn is a family operation that includes Denny, his wife Sandy and Sandy’s brother Dan. The beautiful brewery is built on 3rd generation farm land of Sandy and Dan’s family. Denny and Dan starting their home brewing journey together in 2014 inspired by Denny’s Grandfather Pepe. As the story goes, Denny found the last remaining bottle of Pepe’s homebrew and packed it away as a keepsake. Twelve years later Denny rediscovered the bottle and took it as a sign to continue Pepe’s passion.
Cash crops just weren’t exciting enough for the family, so in 2018 they cleared out a big plot and started building the barn. The team used a crowd sourcing initiative they termed ‘Build the Barn’ to generate funds and community involvement. Some packages included beer recipe development and even the right to name a fermentation tank. I'd name the tank 'IPA', not after the beer style, but after the famous member of The Yeasty Boys. The one who co-wrote the Yeastie's albums License to Swill and Paul's Brewery. Come on...where else are you going to read about barns with lame Beastie Boys jokes.
As you take in the space, the team’s hard work and devotion is evident in the craftsmanship. The majority of the taproom was built by Denny, Sandy and Dan with help from their families. Before they raised this big new barn, they had to tear down an old red barn. The old barn was completely repurposed providing the red weathered barn board behind the bar and support beams used for bench seating. All the tables are beautiful wide live edge and can sit a family or two. Click the black arrow to scroll through the picture gallery below.
In one corner of the taproom is a stage where Chad Oulds sound checked with BNL's ‘Old Apartment’, he sounded great! On the other side you'll get a glimpse into the brewery where the team was working the canning line. Natural light floods the room from an overhead door that leads you out to their expansive patio and lawn. Picnic tables and umbrellas abound with a row of hop vines dangling in the distance, loads of space for events or passing out.
Tell us about the Beers in this Barn!
We were fortunate to arrive during Red Barn’s Cherry Fest. This weekend they had two special releases, a cherry sour and a cherry blonde ale. But don’t worry, Red Barn always has something new on their tap list and even more in the cooler to take home. I would say their styles lean a bit Belgian thanks to Pepe, but they pour everything from a blonde ale to a chocolate porter. You’ll even find a 8.1% abv Belgian heavy to show you what’s up. My personal favourites were the Last Past Session IPA and Ground Floor Vienna Lager; there is something for all tastes.
Five Acre Island Citrus Blonde Ale (4.8% abv) – A play on their core Blonde ale with big lemon citrus aroma with crackery malts, lots of lemon citrus and a mild lemon pith bitterness. Slightly sweet finish. Last Pass Session IPA (4.5% abv) – my favourite session IPA that’s super juicy, flavours of peach, orange, tangerine and an easy grapefruit bitterness. Dry finish. Sharecropper Belgium Wit (6.5% abv) - A hazy Belgian style wheat beer with classic orange citrus and coriander spices. Super smooth and flavourful. Harwich Moon Chocolate Porter (5.6% abv) – Rich roasty and dark chocolate aromas, lighter bodied than a typical porter but full of roasty malt flavour. The use of cacao nibs and lactose give this porter a nice creamy chocolately finish. Tropical Wheatwave (5.4% abv) – A seasonal favourite, takes the citrus and coriander notes of a wheat beer and punches it up with juicy pineapple and mango. A patio crusher for sure. Ground Floor Vienna Lager (5.5% abv) – Very true to the style, with toasty bready malts, slight sweetness and a nice hop balance.
Red Barn Brewing is absolutely a destination brewery in Southwestern Ontario. As you look around the taproom you’ll see tables full of multi-generational families enjoying the brewery together. This is a testament to Red Barn’s motto Family, Farm and Beer. This brewery is truly a community hub, a place where you can come as you are and shoot the shit. We’d like to thank Denny and his team for a great first visit to Red Barn Brewing, it certainly won’t be the last. Stay positive and drink good beer.