Two glasses adorned with the words "cask days" are raised in a toast.

Award-winning Ontario craft breweries and cideries you need to visit

Two glasses adorned with the words "cask days" are raised in a toast.

Ontario is home to a growing variety of top-quality, small batch, craft beer and cider. And awards and accolades are stacking up for these dedicated craft beer and cider makers.

Ontario brewers consistently do well at the Canadian Brewing Awards, Canada’s annual blind-tasting competition that awards excellence in over 50 different beer categories.

Check out these featured breweries and cideries along with several not-to-miss craft gems nearby.

Hamilton area

Hamilton is a hotbed for innovative craft brews.

Featured brewery:

Clifford Brewing Company, Hamilton

Owner and namesake Brad Clifford had been crafting award-winning home brews for years before realizing his dream of opening a brick-and-mortar brewing facility and taproom in Hamilton’s east end.

A year later, Clifford took home the gold for the rich and complex Clifford Porter and was named Brewery of the Year at the Canadian Brewing Awards.

More recently, Clifford Brewing won a silver for their Dark Streets of London English-style bitter and an honourable mention for the Marigold-Belgian golden ale.

Location: 398 Nash Road North #1, Hamilton

While you're here:

  • Experience the culmination of art, music and craft beer at Collective Arts Brewing.
  • Adventurous beer drinkers should visit MERIT Brewing Company on James Street North. Canadian Brewing Awards awarded them two prizes in the experimental category: gold for Nowhere: BlauFrankisch and a bronze for By & By Pinot Noir Tripel.
  • East of Hamilton, Cameron’s Brewing in Oakville snagged a bronze for Beste Bock, a traditional German style bock and a gold in the American-style India pale ale category for their well-balanced Jurassic IPA.
  • About an hour east of Hamilton towards the Niagara border, The Exchange Brewery is a beacon for savvy beer lovers in wine country. Try their award-winning Throwback: Belgian Table Beer Session Ale.
  • For cider connoisseurs, West Avenue Cider House is 20 minutes north of Hamilton in rural Freelton. Taste their seasonal Legend of the Fall, pick up an award-winning Autumn from the bottle selection and stay at the onsite cottage overlooking the Somerset Orchards.

Muskoka and Haliburton Highlands

Muskoka and Haliburton Highlands evoke memories of enjoying great craft beer in nature.

Featured brewery:

Lake of Bays Brewery, Baysville

One of Muskoka’s finest breweries, Lake of Bays has expanded from the Baysville taproom to a secondary Huntsville Brewhouse location.

Their most recent victory is for Lake of Bays Brett Oud Bruin, from the barrel-aged series, a recent winner at the Canadian Brewing Awards.

Location: 2681 Muskoka District Road 117, Baysville

While you're here:

  • Boshkung Brewing Co. in Minden is a popular stop to stock up on your way to cottage country or backcounty. Pick up their gold-winning Angry Chipmunk specialty IPA.
  • Haliburton Highlands Brewing Company is located at Abbey Gardens, a nature-based organic community garden and food hub. Craft beer made from local ingredients using sustainable practices make this award-winning brewery a must-visit for beer lovers.
  • Sawdust City Brewing Co. is another award-winning craft brewery and fully-licensed saloon in Gravenhurst with seasonal releases and year-round beers.
  • Marking the seasons, Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge brews fun specialty beers.
  • Cider drinkers should beeline to Bala’s Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery for the award-winning Cliff Jump Cranberry Cider.
  • So, kick back and stay awhile in the Haliburton or Muskoka area, both are brimming with lakeside resorts, cottages and camping opportunities to suit every budget and style.

Toronto

Torontonians love craft beer and this city’s neighbourhoods are fiercely loyal to their local brewery, alehouse or brewpub. 

Featured brewery:

Shacklands Brewing Co., Toronto

Fans of Belgian style brews are in for a treat at this west end Toronto small craft brewery. Located in the Stockyards district, Shacklands Brewing Co. specializes in Belgian inspired ales and fusions recently won big at the Canadian Brewing Awards. They were awarded gold for their Shacklands Dubbel and Obscure Monk, silver for Daystar and bronze for Shacklands Brace Noise.

Location: 100 Symes Road #101, Toronto

While you’re here:

  • Amsterdam Brewing Co. received accolades for the Double Tempest barrel aged stout, as well as for Fracture IPA and Bord du lac, a French-style Saison.
  • Another winner, Kensington Brewing Company landed first place in the dry stout category for It’s a Stout.
  • Junction neighbourhood’s Indie Alehouse recently celebrated a milestone accomplishment, with their Vine Song 5 taking the win in the specialty beer category at the World’s Best Beer Award.
  • For pilsner drinkers, check out the Burdock Brewery’s European style lager.
  • Tapping into the history and culture of Canada’s biggest city for inspiration on their series of stock and specialty beers seems to be the secret of success for Henderson Brewing Co.
  • The taste of the award-winning Helles Awaits from Folly Brewpub starts sweet and finishes with a dry bitter flavour.
  • If you’re craving a refreshing cider, head to Evergreen Brick Works, home to Brickworks Ciderhouse 1904, Toronto’s first cidery.
  • The Drake Hotel on Queen West and The Broadview in the east end are both trendy digs with rooftop lounges where you can enjoy a craft brew and a stunning city view.

Durham Region

Immediately east of Toronto is a picturesque mix of rural and residential communities along with some of Ontario’s finest breweries and cideries.

Featured brewery:

Old Flame Brewing Company, Port Perry

Old Flame is housed in a historic building dating back to 1874, whose many functions have included a horse-drawn carriage manufacturer, a wood and blacksmith shop and a textile factory, before being converted to Port Perry’s favourite brewery in 2013.

Free tours regale the full fascinating story of the place. Don’t leave without a couple cans of Red Vienna Lager, a gold winner, or their Brunette Munich Dunkel Lager, which took home a silver.

Location: 135 Perry Street, Port Perry

While you're here:

Huron County

Often referred to as Ontario’s West Coast, breweries and cideries along shoreline of Lake Huron are making waves.

Featured brewery:

Cowbell Brewing Co., Blyth

Located in a historic village just 20 minutes from Lake Huron, Cowbell makes craft appreciation an immersive experience.

With a state-of-the-art production centre, indoor restaurant with outside patio, merch and entertainment space that’s all certified-accessible, they deliver on all fronts.

Location: 40035 Blyth Road, Blyth

While you're here:

  • Find one-of-a-kind, experimental brews at River Road Brewing Co. in Bayfield, like the Scurvy Elixir that contains pine needles, or the Oatmeal Stout Breakfast Beer brewed in collaboration with local Shopbike Coffee Roasters
  • Bad Apple Brewing Co. is another edgy little brewery well worth a visit. Just look for the barn with the apple skull as you drive along the lake from Bayfield to Zurich. 
  • East Street Cider Co., just north of Bayfield in Goderich, in Huron County’s first craft cidery.
  • The Ashwood Inn in Bayfield is an ideal home base and the lobby bar serves a selection of local craft brews on tap.

Grey Bruce Simcoe

Explore Ontario’s largest apple growing region along the scenic shores of Georgian Bay.

Featured brewery:

Thornbury Craft Co., Thornbury

This popular cider and brew house was originally an apple storage building for the crates of apples destined for Toronto by steam train.

Fresh local product and old-world techniques result in premium craft cider and beer, including their gold winning Grodziskie.

Location: 90 King Street East, Thornbury

While you're here:

Ottawa area

Ottawa and its surrounding communities are no strangers to well crafted beer and cider.

Featured brewery:

Flora Hall Brewing, Ottawa

Flora Hall is brewery, bar and restaurant located close to Ottawa’s downtown core that comes locally recommended. And Ottawa’s residents know a thing or two about good beer. Proof is in their gold winner Dry Hopped Saison in the category of best French and Belgian-Style Saison.

Location: 37 Flora Street, Ottawa

While you're here:

  • IPA drinkers will want to sample the award-winning No. 45 at Cassel Brewery in Casselman, about 40 minutes drive east of Ottawa.
  • Head to Big Rig Brewery, Ottawa’s largest craft brewery, located in the Kanata neighbourhood for a winning cream ale. The taproom is open for lunch and samples throughout the week, with tours of the brewery available every Saturday.
  • Another local favourite, Beau’s All-Natural Brewing Co. is an award-winning, employee-owned, certified organic independent brewery open daily for tours and tastings. 
  • Stray Dog Brewing Co. in Orléans was recognized for their Breakfast & Furious, a flavoured stout/porter.
  • It’s worth the trek west of downtown to Calabogie Brewing Company for their gold medal Dry Stout.
  • Ugly Apple Cider in Lanark Highlands produces no ordinary cider. Made from the sweet and wild apples growing on the farm, Ugly Apple has won at the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition.
  • An hour southwest of Ottawa along Highway 7, Perth Brewery is one not to miss, especially for their award-winning Oh Canada Maple Ale.
  • Just west of Ottawa in Carp, Ridge Rock Brewing Company is a cozy craft brewery and brewpub that received an honourable mention from the Canadian Brewing Awards from for their Electric Mayhem DDHIPA.
  • The concierge team at Ottawa’s swanky Le Germain Hotel provide great suggestions on where to eat and drink locally.

Waterloo and Wellington

This region is home to some of Ontario’s pioneer craft breweries.

Featured brewery:

Farm League Brewing, Cambridge

Although Farm League likens itself to the minor leagues as the place for up and comers, they are playing in the major league now after winning gold recently for Big Ticket, a German style Kölsch.

Location: 295 Ainslie Street South, Cambridge

While you’re here:

  • Comedy, trivia, bingo, live music and a dog friendly policy make this small batch Fixed Gear Brewing in the heart of Guelph junction a fast favourite. Now you can add their gold winning Red Hook oatmeal Equals to the list.
  • If your brew of choice is an IPA, Four Fathers Brewing in Cambridge brought home a silver for The Starter in Session India Pale Ale category.
  • The Waterloo Chocolate Hazelnut Porter from Waterloo Brewing is made for the adventurous palate. It won the silver prize in the experimental beer category.
  • Wellington Brewery in Guelph raked in the awards recently with a bronze for their Arkell Best Bitter, Helles Lager and Imperial Russian Stout and the UVB-76 Maksim taking silver in the flavoured stout/porter category.

London, Elgin and Oxford County

From big city to small town, the craft beer here remains consistently top notch.

Featured brewery:

Anderson Craft Ales, London

Not much in this life outshines a fine Cream Ale.

Nestled in London’s historic Old East Village neighbourhood, Anderson Craft Ales is a family operated brewery that specializes in small batch, carefully crafted beer, including an award-winning cream ale.

Location: 1030 Elias Street, London

While you're here:

  • Enjoy the flagship or seasonal brews at Toboggan Brewing Company in London.
  • Book a tour at the refreshingly authentic small batch Railway City Brewing in St. Thomas.
  • Caps Off Brewing is another great spot in St. Thomas, making this area well worth the pilgrimage. 
  • Upper Thames Brewing Co. is the first craft brewery in Woodstock. It’s a bonus that this micro brewery is in the heart of Oxford County, Ontario’s dairy capital, because a great ale loves a great cheese.

Chatham and Windsor area

Craft beer lovers will be delighted with what’s brewing in Ontario’s southernmost region.

Featured brewery:

Walkerville Brewery, Windsor

Located in the same historic quarters of Hiram Walker and Sons Ltd, the distillery that put Canadian whisky on the map, Walkerville Brewery is garnering fame for their finely crafted beer.

Their Geronimo IPA and Imperial Stout were awarded silver prizes in their respective categories.

Location: 525 Argyle Road, Windsor

While you're here:

  • About an hour east of Windsor, Sons of Kent Brewing Co. in Chatham is worth a visit. Their German-style wheat beer called Banana Hammock took home a gold and both their English IPA and Scotch ale won awards.
  • In another direction, under an hour south of Windsor in Kingsville, Banded Goose Brewing delivers the best locally sourced craft brews to JACKS Gastropub, including their award winning American stye sour ale.
  • Distinctive Inns of Kingsville offer a selection of upscale guest suites or a house rental through a virtual concierge service. The Grove Hotel in Kingsville and Retro Suites Hotel in Chatham are both unique and memorable places to stay.

Northeastern Ontario

Pristine wilderness, fresh air and an adventurous spirit inspire Northern Ontario’s brewers.

Featured brewery:

Full Beard Brewing Co., Timmins

Established in 2016, Full Beard Brewing Co. brings finely crafted brews to the city of Timmins along with live music shows and a fun schedule of weekly events.

If you’re looking to sample something new, try The Bearded Prospector, a smooth cream ale which was awarded in the historic and regional beer category.

Location: 219 Wilson Avenue, Timmins

While you’re here (in the region):


Discover more fresh, bold and flavourful craft beer and cider in Ontario.

Last updated: January 11, 2024

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