Have you picked up your copy of this month’s Short Fuse? If you’re a craft beer lover, chances are you picked one up already. But, there’s more!
Wait, I can go on a beer tour?
Yes, you most definitely can. London’s local breweries offer free tours of their facilities, along with a tasting either before, during or after. Personally, I’m a big proponent of drinking during a beer tour. This past weekend I had the chance to go on a tour of three of London’s craft breweries: Anderson Craft Ales, London Brewing Co-Op, and Forked River. As you can imagine, it was a pretty perfect day. Each brewery has its own history and its own take on craft beers, but two things united them all: a passion for their work, and a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
Anderson Craft Ales
Anderson Craft Ales is the newest and only family-owned craft brewery on this list. Open to the public for less than a year, they already have five types of craft beer on the market. As an independent, (proudly) family-owned business, the Andersons strive to work with local products and businesses as often as possible. They do their own distribution around Ontario and most of their beer is sold locally at London’s pubs and bars. However, you can also find their IPA at the LCBO.
According to owner Gavin Anderson, one of the most rewarding aspects of the business is that London’s craft breweries all work together to bring awareness to the London and area market. During the tour, I got to taste their Amber Ale while he walked us through the facility.
Despite being a small family business, Anderson Craft Ales’ high ceilings and bright white walls make the facility seem much grander. If you want to relax for a bit after the tour, they also have a charming open area where you can drink and play several games, including a giant Jenga!
London Brewing Co-op
While Anderson Craft Ales is the family-owned representative of the group, London Brewing Co-op is the community representative. Born out of On The Move Organics and The Root Cellar Café, the Co-op prides itself on being 100% local. Operating from The Root Cellar since 2014, their new location (right across from Anderson!) on 521 Burbrook Place is quite new, yet feels like home. There’s free popcorn on the tour, pinball machines and hidden nerdy messages on the walls.
Most exciting of all, after the tour you can taste all of their beers on a flight (think a platter of sliders but with beer), and take home your own Co-op pint glass. You can buy your favourite London Brewing Co-op craft beer at the brewery or at The Root Cellar.
The Co-op is open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from noon to 9pm, and you can book your tour directly with them.
Although not as quaint as the other two, Forked River has an impressive facility and many different beers to satisfy every taste. The brewery is celebrating its 4th year anniversary this June, with the launch of their new summer beer, Raspberry Mojo. Located near Argyle Mall, Forked River offers free tours on Saturdays at 12pm, 2pm and 4pm.
Our tour guide told us that even though Forked River is sold at local LCBOs, independent bar owners are the most welcoming to craft beers. The Morrisey House, Milo’s and The Bungalow are especially supportive of the brewery, carrying several varieties of the good stuff on tap.
The craft beer scene in London is ever growing and there are other local breweries on my “to-visit” list. I could go on and on about barleys and hops, but after an afternoon of drinking and learning, I believe it’s time for a nap. You’ll just have to take a tour for yourself.
Feature photo by Michael Del Vecchio