Steel Wheel Brewery
"I think we should go to IKEA today" my wife announced on a rainy Sunday morning. Terrified, I remained silent and motionless. What I've learned from Jurassic Park is like a T- Rex, she can't see you if you don't move. The awkward silence is broken when she follows with "We can go to a brewery!" The plan was to drive to Burlington, quick stop at IKEA (good luck) then on to a brewery. The line to enter IKEA wrapped around and around and led to neither a roller coaster nor a cold beer. It did give the time to think about which brewery I wanted to experience. The obvious choice given the location was Nickelbrook, but the weather just wasn't cooperating for their patio.
That morning I was scrolling through Instagram and a picture caught my eye from Steel Wheel Brewing, a brewery I'll admit I hadn't heard of before. A map showed it was but a few kms off the 403 on the outskirts of Brantford Ontario.
In 2015, Harold Kuret and Cindy Blair started growing hops on their 14 acre farm located on a country road in Brant Ontario. The brewery opened to the public in 2018 featuring the beers of head brewer Mitchell Tuckey. I stole this from their website so go read the full story at the link above. The brewery and taproom are set in old farm house that has been fully renovated and expanded for production. The rustic country styled taproom features a vaulted ceiling with exposed wood beams accentuated by barn board walls and plank floors...
...You know what? Just look at the pictures so I don't have to use the word "accentuated" again.
There seems to be an abundance of seating options, almost enough to list point form. Currently closed, the front entrance has a large deck with overhead growing hop vines and a narrow front porch with a few bar style seats. They'd have to pay me to leave that porch. Inside the taproom there is a large country style table flanked by a few smaller tables. Moving through the taproom toward the rear of the house, a set of french doors leads to the brewery production area with additional seating. The rear door leads out to a large grass area surrounded by patio and picnic tables, and to the right is the covered barn seating featured in that Steel Wheel Instagram post.
The soft spoken owner Harold lead us out to a patio table on the picturesque back landing with views of hops fields in the distance. 80% of the hops used in their beers are grown onsite. The weather had cleared to a partly cloudy afternoon with the perfect temperature to enjoy a few beers. The backyard has loads of room for kids, dogs and slightly inebriated beer bloggers and their pop up trailer.
We hadn't even tried their beers before proclaiming how much we loved the landscape and felt at ease. I could park my trailer among the hop vines and they would never even know I was there, except for the growing bar tab.
This was a busy spot on a overcast Sunday, we watched most of the tables fill up quickly and reservations are suggested. Other groups had brought their own food to the party which is allowed, as too are dogs. The hospitality of the owners is evident as Harold brought out plastic glasses for a group's store-bought Ginger Ale.
Reviewing the beer list I was surprised by the depth and selection of offerings. I appreciated the clarity of pricing on the menu. As a cost conscious person (I'm...thrifty to say it politely) I like to know how much things costs. A pet peeve of mine is not including beer and cocktail prices on the menu. If you can't bother to include a price I can't bother to order it. Unfortunately flights were not available at the moment but the menu offered healthy 6oz sizes.
Unhitch the trailer and tell me about the beer?
We tried six of their beers in the 6oz size and we thoroughly enjoyed each. The beers were very well balanced and full flavoured. Credit to the owners and brewer for not appeasing the area Coors Light drinkers with light lager; their Blonde clocks in at 6% ABV. That being said, something a bit more sessionable would be a nice addition. Although since visiting, they have brewed a Pilsner. I'll just have to go back and try it, better hitch up the trailer.
Station Pale Ale - Full flavoured malt backbone with the addition of corn sweetness. This sweetness is balanced well with Mosiac hops resulting in deep tastes of ripe musk melon. Tasted extremely fresh. Bottled version more subdued in the malt department.
Wheat - Light floral nose. Taste of light banana, bubblegum and straw, mouthfeel of an American wheat. Light but evident bitterness from the Cascade hops. Super fresh and clean.
Wild Blueberry Sour - Intense but enjoyable sour that my wife and I kept reaching for. Salty and almost smokey in flavour with a serious hit of wild blueberry tartness.
New England IPA - Light haziness with flavours of ruby red grapefruit and ripe strawberries backed by a nice orange rind bitterness.
Norwegian Oat Pale Ale: Dry and crisp with light grapefruit bitterness and bit of strawberry. The addition of oats adding to the mouthfeel.
Stout: Very approachable true to style stout with flavours of just-brewed light roast coffee and bittersweet chocolate.
Steel Wheel Brewery is a lovely place to spend an afternoon, evening or even morning as you stumble out of your trailer and into the taproom. Jokes aside, there is no camping or living here, but a hop head can dream.
Stay positive and drink good beer.