Guided self-tours shine spot­light on lo­cal craft brew­eries

Dis­cover fresh foods while en­joy­ing On­tario’s pro­tected Green­belt

Toronto Sun - - NEWS -

Driv­ing through On­tario’s pro­tected Green­belt, it’s not un­com­mon to see road­side sig­nage for one lo­cal mi­cro brew­ery af­ter an­other. It is clear the ru­ral craft beer boom is hav­ing an im­pact beyond the beer shelf.

As Brew­ery Dis­cov­ery Routes Project Man­ager Frances Pairaudeau notes, ru­ral brew­eries are emerg­ing as com­mu­nity hubs stim­u­lat­ing eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in On­tario’s ru­ral coun­try­side.

“There’s a groundswell of good­will for the lo­cals at a com­mu­nity and pro­vin­cial level, with craft brew­eries sup­port­ing other busi­nesses in their com­mu­ni­ties and be­ing sup­ported by the com­mu­nity in re­turn,” says Pairaudeau. “From us­ing lo­cal com­pa­nies for la­belling, canning and bot­tling, to en­cour­ag­ing new restau­rants and food trucks to ser­vice their vis­i­tors and even arts and yoga classes — ru­ral brew­eries have be­come a kind of com­mu­nity cen­tre, driv­ing eco­nomic devel­op­ment.”

With de­mand for fresh, lo­cal craft beer grow­ing in the Green­belt and beyond, Pairaudeau had the idea to show­case the con­nec­tion be­tween On­tario’s craft brew­eries and lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ences like restau­rants fea­tur­ing lo­cally sourced in­gre­di­ents, farm­ers’ mar­kets and nat­u­ral beauty to cre­ate a big­ger pic­ture of the bounty and the beauty of On­tario. With three routes in the Green­belt and nine in to­tal, Brew­ery Dis­cov­ery Routes’ pre­planned itin­er­ar­ies are now in year four and more pop­u­lar than ever.

“In the craft beer in­dus­try there was much in­ter­est in de­vel­op­ing a Provincewide map, but in­di­vid­ual brew­ers didn’t have the time or re­sources to put a map to­gether,” ex­plains Pairaudeau. “The map high­lights brew­eries, but it’s more than that. It’s about all the lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ences peo­ple can en­joy from Feast On restau­rants, fea­tur­ing On­tario food, to farm­ers’ mar­kets and con­ser­va­tion ar­eas in our spec­tac­u­lar coun­try­side.”

Brew­ery Dis­cov­ery Routes serve as a guide for food and drink en­thu­si­asts to plan a day trip with stops not only for beer and cider, but also at the farms that grow the nec­es­sary hops and ap­ples, con­ser­va­tion ar­eas, or Feast On restau­rants that fea­ture lo­cal promi­nently on their menus. Hosted at www.brew­ery­dis­cov­ery­routes.ca there are nine best-of itin­er­ar­ies, with hun­dreds of stops at brew­eries, cideries, dis­tillers, con­ser­va­tion ar­eas, farm­ers’ mar­kets, and restau­rants.

“Brew­ery Dis­cov­ery Routes are more than just beer tours,” says Ed McDon­nell, CEO of the Green­belt Foun­da­tion, a lead part­ner in the devel­op­ment of the map. “The itin­er­ar­ies con­nect see­ing and vis­it­ing pro­tected farm­land and green spa­ces in the Green­belt with en­joy­ing lo­cal food at a farm­ers’ mar­ket or Feast On restau­rants and lo­cal beers or ciders made from On­tario in­gre­di­ents. The re­sult is that peo­ple will have the taste-of-place ex­pe­ri­ence that only comes from choos­ing lo­cal.”

The free guide has been a suc­cess as far as par­tic­i­pat­ing brew­ers are con­cerned. Curtis Sch­malz, co-founder of MacLean’s Ales in Hanover notes, “MacLean’s Ales is off the beaten path, so us be­ing placed on Brew­ery Dis­cov­ery Routes has helped a great deal. We have seen peo­ple from Wind­sor to Ot­tawa and many towns and cities in be­tween visit our brew­ery.”

The pres­ence of brew­eries like MacLeans in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties brings in vis­i­tors and sup­ports a whole range of other busi­nesses. Along with farm­ers grow­ing lo­cal hops, brew­ers are big busi­ness for la­belling, bot­tling, canning, and a host of an­cil­lary busi­nesses. By show­cas­ing brew­eries along­side nearby at­trac­tions, Brew­ery Dis­cov­ery Routes are am­pli­fy­ing the eco­nomic im­pact of craft beer tourism by bring­ing more vis­i­tors out not only to en­joy brew­eries but all that ru­ral On­tario has to of­fer.

To get started on trip plan­ning, visit brew­ery dis­cov­ery routes. ca. Par­tic­i­pants can en­ter a con­test to win a $500 culi­nary tourism ex­pe­ri­ence by shar­ing pho­tos from their trips with the hash­tag #BrewRoutesON.

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To get started on trip plan­ning, visit brew­ery­dis­cov­ery­routes. ca. Par­tic­i­pants can en­ter a con­test to win a $500 culi­nary tourism ex­pe­ri­ence by shar­ing pho­tos from their trips with the hash­tag #BrewRoutesON.

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