Part two of our three-part Guelph, Ontario craft brewery crawl.
Our second stop on our Guelph craft brewery crawl was Wellington Brewery. It’s basically the old standard in local craft brewing – currently celebrating their 30th anniversary, it’s the oldest independently owned microbrewery in Canada.
And with age comes experience. They’ve got the full package, from the Welly brand itself to the location to the full roster of good beers.
Wellington is in an ivy-bedecked building with one little tower. We found out that its style is an homage to the traditional oast house (not to be confused with the brewery by the same name), or hop kiln, the farm building where hops were taken to be dried.
Half of the public area is a retail store with all their beer and merch on display. The other half is for tasting. It has an English country club vibe, and was bustling on the Saturday afternoon we visited.
Wellington’s brews are well distributed throughout Ontario. You’ve probably seen them in every LCBO or in craft beer-friendly restaurants across the province. However, unlike some beer you see everywhere (I think you know what we mean), with Wellington, it’s entirely justified. The folks there know how to make damn good beer.
In the sampling room, you get little wooden coins for $1 to get samples of whichever size you’d prefer. Here’s a little sampling of some of our standouts:
- 30th Anniversary Ale – a unique brew for this year. It’s got a lot going on- but it all works. It’s strong (8.2%) with floral/fruity notes. It’s malty ale brewed with elderberries, aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels, mixed with dry-hopped imperial golden ale infused with heather tips. Wow!
- County Dark Ale – The ideal English style brown ale. It’s malty, it’s smooth, but it has just enough zing to stop it from being boring. We’re both big fans.
- Imperial Russian Stout – Despite the name reversal, this is your quintessential Russian imperial stout – as black as Putin’s heart, and as bitter as the man himself. Josh is a big fan of Russian imperial stouts, and particularly this one.
- Special Pale Ale (S.P.A.) – Jess first described this as “coppery, super drinkable, with no overt flavour other than good beer”.
- Trailhead Lager – A surprising complex amber lager, but still light enough for the easy beer drinker.
Some of the vines on the building are actually… hop bines! We like that sort of touch.
And they’ve got some great merchandise. Josh couldn’t bear to leave without buying a big glass beer drinking boot. They also have a fridge in the retail store which on our trip included one of their ‘Welly One-Offs’, that wasn’t in the tasting room – Fresh Off the Wire, a wet-hopped pale ale made with local ingredients.
Visit date: Oct 9, 2015