From the northern lights to wild Ontarian landscapes perfect for fishing, hiking and camping, Northeastern Ontario has a lot to offer the adventurer. And what goes better with the great outdoors than an ice cold craft beer?
In recent years, this gorgeous corner of the Great White North has made a name for itself in the beer scene. According to Jordan St. John, a certified Cicerone and BJCP (that’s Beer Judge Certification Program), as well as a leading expert on the history of brewing in Ontario and Toronto—it’s the region’s attention to old-school brews that give it an edge.
Whether it’s North Bay’s winter slopes or summer kayaking that bring you to the region, no trip is complete without at least a few provincial pints. From thriving micro-breweries leading the way in sours to cozy lakeside gems, here’s all you need to know about Northeastern Ontario’s best craft breweries.
Breweries to Visit in Northeastern Ontario for the Best Craft Beer in Canada
Opened in 2013, Stack Brewing was one of the first breweries to make way in Northeastern Ontario, and they’ve been shaping the scene ever since. It wound up inspiring other breweries to pop up in Sudbury too, such as 46 North and Spacecraft, all three of which have made Sudbury a beer-lover’s destination.
What really sets Stack apart though, is its community involvement and constant evolution of beer. In addition to several provincial and national awards from both the Ontario and Canadian Brewing Awards, Stack is always on a mission to innovate. In fact, they’re the first brewery in Northeastern Ontario to experiment with sour brews. Faves include the Four Corner’s Sour Quad, a Belgian quad known for its “funky, earthy, spicy notes,” and Mon Cheri, a cherry sour IPA. Not up for a sour? Their quadruple-award-winning Les Portes de L’enfer pale ale is sure to please.
Be sure to keep up with the dates for the annual Northern Ontario Microbrew Festival hosted by none other than Stack Brewing. Taking place in late winter/early spring, it’s the perfect time to visit Sudbury and indulge in some of the most delicious craft beer in Canada, live entertainment and get a sense of what sets the region’s beer scene apart from the rest.
New Ontario Brewing—North Bay
With cheeky names like Clothing Hoptional and Bear Runner, New Ontario Brewing is as committed to creativity as they are good beer. Known for their community focus, New Ontario is very involved in local initiatives and events, making them an authentic addition to the region’s growing beer scene. Because hey, beer is best enjoyed with those who matter most.
Their flagship brew, Bear Runner, is an easy-to-sip, delightfully malty and hoppy blond ale, but our fave is the Big & Juicy IPA. Either way, these brews are the perfect thing to sip on during a night out in North Bay.
Full Beard Brewing Co.—Timmins
No trip to Timmins would be complete without a stop at Full Beard Brewing Co., Timmins’ first craft brewery, opened in 2016 and has been whipping up some of the best ales ever since. As the name suggests, it was created by a group of bearded guys who love to ponder about the world’s greatest beer, from cream ales to American pale ales. Our personal favorites are the Bearded Prospector cream ale, and the Five O’Clock Shadow pale ale. Be sure to try their latest brew available on tap only; it’s sure to give you a taste of the finest flavors Timmins has to offer.
Whiskeyjack Beer Company—Haileybury
Built on a quiet and calm expanse on the shores of Lake Temiskaming, Whiskeyjack’s aim is for their beer to “evoke happy memories and the joy of sharing simple pleasures in life” and that, they do.
Valuing quality over quantity, Whiskeyjack offers just five classics—American Pale Ale, Cream Ale, American Amber Ale, Chocolate Stout, and our personal fave, Belgian Witbier. Whether you’re looking to chat about the ins and outs of what makes a good beer, or just want to sip on a flight and enjoy the afternoon, Whiskeyjack is the place to be.
Local tip: Plan to have lunch or dinner here too, they serve a mean burger.
Gateway City Brewery—North Bay
Created by a group of friends who wanted to give back to their hometown in the form of local craft beer and arcade games, Gateway City Brewery has all the charm you’d expect. From the retro pinball machines and corn hole to the award winning brews like their 137 rye pale ale and 626 pils, it’s always easy to have a great time here.
They also offer a great line-up of seasonal brews like the smoky North Star rauchbier and Baroness von Dunkel. It isn’t just the malty taste that makes this brew special, but the fact that it’s made in partnership with the Beer Baroness Society Scholarship. All proceeds from the sales go to help fund a Northern Ontario woman who wants to pursue a post-secondary education in brewing.
One of the latest and greatest additions to the region’s beer scene is Compass Brewing. From their Johnny Jones amber ale, a tribute to the local legend who famously sled 400 miles to rescue three stranded balloonists, to their La Grisette (a beer native to the mining regions along the French/Belgian border with a strong mining history not unlike the one in Timmins), it’s clear that community is what matters most here. In addition to Johnny Jones and La Grisette, be sure to check out their Polar Night dry stout, which is known for its malty flavor perfect to get you through—you guessed it—polar nights.
Whatever the weather, there’s nothing better than sipping on a cold one after a day out on the trails. Whether you’re looking to explore the great outdoors or indulge in foodie delights, our Northeastern Ontario Travel Guide will show you the best spots in the region.