Craft Breweries & Cranberries
Raise a cheer to the local beer and wine scene in the wilderness north of Toronto!
Ontario’s cottage country has been making a name for itself in the craft beer industry for some time now, with a number of award-winning ales being produced here. There is a great local food movement, supported by local farmers markets, seasonal events and a host of outstanding chefs and restaurants as well. But it’s the seven breweries and a winery that have really put Ontario’s cottage country on the culinary map.
Day 1 – Sawdust City: Gravenhurst (“A” to “B” on Map)
In Gravenhurst, Ontario, visit Sawdust City Brewing Co. and their awesome Saloon. First enjoy an afternoon walk down by the Muskoka Wharf (where Muskoka’s historic steamships are moored), or visit the talented folks at the Arts At The Albion across the street from the brewery. Then it’s to the Saloon for a tour and tasting, and whatever else is happening, from live music performances to “broga” (yoga and beer pairings). Stay at the Residence Inn by Marriott or at The Inn on Bay within walking distance from the brewery. Featured ales: Golden Beach Pale Ale, Lone Pine Ale, Long Dark Voyage to Uranus.
Day 2 – Muskoka Brewery: Bracebridge (“C” on Map)
You’re off to Bracebridge today to visit the oldest craft brewing company in the area, Muskoka Brewery. Operating since 1996, their unfiltered brewing method and creative seasonal beers have put them on the map as a top quality Canadian microbrewery. Enjoy a tour and tasting, and then head to LivOutside on the beautiful Muskoka River to try your hand at paddle boarding with the friendly staff at this outdoor adventure store. Featured ales: Mad Tom IPA, Detour Cream Ale, Summerweiss
Day 3 – Lake of Bays Brewing Co: Baysville (“D” on Map)
Located right on Highway 118, the award-winning Lake of Bays Brewing Co. is known for its beers associated with Canada’s great outdoors. Enjoy a brewery tour and a tasting on the patio, which features one of the mural replicas of The Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery. An iconic destination in the Lake of Bays area, the staff here won’t be shy about recommending some local spots to visit. Head from here to the trails at the Echo Valley Nature & Bike Trails for hiking and biking, or the Humble Pie Butter Tart Factory for a favourite Canadian treat. For accommodations ideas, consider one of the many Resorts of North Muskoka. Featured ales: The Wild North series, Spark House Ale, Rock Cut.
Day 4 – Cranberry Marsh & Winery: Bala (“E” on Map)
After breakfast, head northwest to the picturesque town of Bala (the ‘Cranberry Capital of Ontario’) and home to Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh. This unique farm makes everything you can think of out of cranberries and blueberries, both of which are indigenous plants to the region. They also use them to make award-winning wines at the adjacent Muskoka Lakes Winery. Take the Bog to Bottle Discovery Tour – a Destination Canada Signature Experience. You can also make a day of it by hiking their trail system around the cranberry bogs. Featured wines: Georgian Bay Rose, Red Maple Desert Wine.
Enjoy lunch in Bala or a bite at the Northern BBQ Shack, the Moon River Lookout or the family-run Don’s Bakery (summer only), a popular stop in the village. Find plenty of accommodation in the Muskoka Lakes area as well.
Day 4 – Trestle Brewing and Norse Brewery: Parry Sound to Nobel (“F” to “G” on Map)
Head towards Hwy 400 and north to Parry Sound – a waterfront community on the shores of Georgian Bay – the world’s largest freshwater archipelago and home to the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve. Here at their harbourfront and next to the CPR Trestle, you’ll find the aptly named Trestle Brewing Company. Newly built and completed in 2018, this first class facility features a taproom, patio and retail store. Their patio, where every seat is the best seat in the house, offers stunning water views and delicious food that pairs perfectly with their assortment of beers available to you on tap (don’t leave without a soft pretzel – it comes with house made beer cheese sauce and is delish!). If you’re planning to visit in the summer months, be sure to check out their events lineup here. Craft Beer Cruises aboard the M.V. Chippewa III are a favourite. Featured ales: Trestle Golden Ale, Salt Dock Jump Summer Saison, and the 30,000 Islands IPA.
A little more north from Parry Sound will bring you into Nobel and home of Norse Brewery. Owned and operated by the Rogozhkina family, the name Norse is a nod to their northern heritage. Their brews are all natural and their facility offers a retail shop as well as guided tastings of their delicious product. Featured ales: Norse Golden Ale, Norse Dark Ale and Norse Red Ale.
Have lunch or dinner on the patio at Glenn Burney Lodge, enjoy classic fare at Trappers Choice Restaurant or treat yourself to a fine dining experience at the Log Cabin Inn. Looking for a unique accommodation option? Check out Harmony Outdoor Inn – a glamping and retreat centre located onsite at the Ontario Sea Kayaking Centre. Want to get out on the water? Get in touch with White Squall Paddling Centre or take a cruise aboard the Island Queen.
While you are visiting, please don’t drink and drive! For information on exceptional accommodations in Ontario’s cottage country, click here.
For tour package examples, click here.
Need help planning your tour? Check out the Cottage Country Beer Trail for more great info, or email [email protected]