Stonepicker Brewing Company
Today would be an experiment. We will be bringing our energetic, curious, never at a loss for words 5 year old son to a brewery. Something I’d long been avoiding as I typically like to enjoy brewery visits. We knew this day would come and had been waiting for just the right brewery that would keep him interested enough to enjoy a flight of beers. That day was today and that brewery was Stonepicker Brewing Company. Morning negotiations went something like this: “Daddy, what are we doing today?" my son inquired at an ungodly early hour. “Sleeping.” “Let’s go to the dollar store!” was his canned response. “Ugh no. How about we go to Daddy's dollar store, a brewery!” “Sounds boring… what’s it called?” he asked. “Stonepicker.” I replied as he paid no attention. “What? Storm Trooper?” he asked as he paid no attention. “Yeah, sure.… Storm Trooper!” “Awesome!” he responded, inciting a line of rapid fire questioning. “Do they have a millennium falcon?” “Should I bring my light saber?” “Can we buy Star Wars toys there?” “How do Storm Troopers drink with their helmets on?” “Why do Storm Troopers die after one shot when they wear armour?”
"Remember when Darth Vader cut off Luke's hand? That was really cool." “Can we go to the dollar store?” “Woah okay, it’s called Stonepicker not Storm Trooper” I interrupted. “You lied to me Daddy, you told me that we don’t lie.” “Right. I’ll take you to the dollar store after.” Driving down Forest Road you’ll know you’re in the right place when you see a vintage black and red McCormick-Deering tractor under the big Stonepicker Brewing Company sign adorned with Canadian and American flags. The long driveway bordered by sunflowers leads you on to the Donker’s homestead and farm.
After retiring from pig farming Joe and Mary Donker decided to follow their dreams and build a brewery on their beautiful property. It was a first for me to visit a brewery on the same property as where the owners call home. It felt like you were part of the family. It’s like Thanksgiving at Aunt Mary and Uncle Joe’s house, but they have a brewery and tap room in the barn. You stay a little too long, drink a little too much and then it’s all "hide the tractor keys from McGoo, he’s had 14 beers and a whole pumpkin pie".
We arrived shortly after opening on a breezy Sunday, and found the gravel farm parking lot bustling with customers. Ordering was easy: come up to table at the front door, make your choice from more than 10 beer styles and the staff will promptly deliver them to your table. One line for ordering, one line for paying, simple and efficient. We found a picnic table on the grass patio area that is shaded by tents and tall maples. That night was Stonepicker's two year anniversary party with the food trucks and live music.
Due to COVID the cavernous tap room was closed off, but being an influential beer blogger with 10’s of readers I was allowed special access to snap a few pictures. As soon as you enter the industrial farm style tap room you can’t help but notice the grey Case tractor hung over the bar. Accents of farm equipment and live edge wood come together to create a fun space to tip a few back. I am always drawn to the tap handle design and loved the appropriate use of different rocks for each handle.
As we were settling up the tab we had the opportunity to chat with owners Joe and Mary and offer congratulations on two successful years and many more to come. Before leaving, we took the opportunity to walk down the long driveway to see the sunflowers and take a seat and picture on the tractor. As you drive the long driveway past the sunflowers you will notice a sign for Miracle Max’s Minions. The sunflower field was planted in memory of Max, a young boy who lost his battle against Leukemia. My son became curious of the yellow box as I dropped my donation in. This gave me the opportunity to reiterate to him that when your cup is overflowing you should fill the cup of others. This prompted him to ask that I make a donation for him. Proud Dad moment.
We get it, you like tractors... tell us about the beer!
The beers we tasted were all flavourful and fresh. Stonepicker is another excellent example of a brewery that caters to it’s rural market by offering a variety of recognized styles and a few that act to push their customer's boundaries.
Oops It Fell Out Lager – I'm not sure I want to know what happens after closing at Stonepicker....or do I? Either way this Lager has a faint nose of grapefruit and sweet tarts. Light body and sweetness leaning into a German pilsner with a dry crisp finish. Farmers Tan Blonde – Sweet corn nose, light sweetness of citrus and a bit of pepper on the finish. Hack n Slash IPA – Pale malt IPA with tastes of honey, light tropical fruits and a nice grapefruit pith bitterness. Tractor on the Wall Oatmeal Stout – Brown sugar sweetened cold coffee aromas. Light taste of molasses and toffee with a coffee backbone, smooth with subtle bitterness. Solid intro stout for their customer base. Rain Makes Grain Session IPA – Light floral and corn aromas. Higher malt sweetness than typical session IPA but very easy drinking. Kick in the Teeth Double IPA – Big toffee, spice and toasted malt nose. Light toffee malt backbone with solid pine bitterness, like an amber on steroids. Maybe this is how they got that tractor above the bar.
Undoubtedly we chose the right brewery for this family experiment and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Stonepicker Brewing Company. My son got to explore the farm, my wife got to take some 'pretty pictures' and most importantly I got to drink some great beer. It takes a special dedication to craft beer to open your home and land to the public. Rural breweries offer much more than good beer. They offer a hub for the community to gather on warm afternoons and a place closer to home to kick back in the evenings. For me, it exuded that familiar feeling of being back home on the farm, but with beer and without my Grandfather yelling at me to stop being so damn lazy. I like it here and you will too.
Stay positive and drink good beer.