Winter months can be long, dark and, for lack of a better word, cold. For some, no matter how many layers we wear to the point that we’re immobilized, we’re still downright freezing. In our case, it’s just easier to stay inside and hibernate until spring but that can be a little uneventful for the restless and adventurous type. So, wanting to find an interesting winter escape, while staying warm, I ventured to Old Flame Brewing Co. in Port Perry, Ontario.
Craft beers have been the up-and-coming, hipster thing in the last little while with speakeasy-type bars and micro-breweries opening up all over the province. For someone who will probably never acclimatize to harsh Canadian weather, I found solace in knowing that I’ll be in for a culinary adventure while staying indoors and hopefully, warm (and maybe just a tad tipsy) from beer tasting.
If you’re on the fence about beer tasting, you don’t have to be a heavy drinker or a beer connoisseur to enjoy craft beers. Take it from me: as a light drinker, I was delightfully surprised by how enjoyable and casual beer tasting could be. There was nothing pretentious about the experience because every brewery is different in the way they brew their beers. More interestingly, they all have a very rich and unique backstory about how they began their brewing journey. You can just tell that they love what they do and they love sharing their works of art with their customers.
The Tasting Room
Located in the historic main street of Port Perry, Old Flame Brewing Co. has been serving lagers and specialty beers from a 130 year-old building since 2013. Fun fact: the building was built in 1884 for Ontario Carriage Works. Old Flame pays homage to this with a not-so-subtle massive carriage planted in the middle of the tasting room. It adds character, if you ask me. In fact, the entire space feels like a reclaimed woodworker’s paradise. Every piece of furniture used to be part of something else like a massive wheelbarrow now reincarnated as a table top, for example. There’s a bicycle hanging from the ceiling – just because. I was told by Mark ‘Big Red’ Forderer of Old Flame and York Durham Headwaters mascot fame, that Jack, the owner, likes to collect old remnants from garage sales and auctions. Just like the name, everything here is old but as a story to tell.
What To Order
The general atmosphere was relaxed and very go with the flow, which is great especially for people who are just beginning to appreciate the fine art of beer tasting. There were regular patrons popping in and out for a quick afternoon drink or a restock on their favourite beers. And then there were some out-of-town guests stopping by for a flight and the Brewer’s Plate, a thoughtfully curated charcuterie board of local meats, cheeses and butter tarts. Everything on the Brewer’s Plate is locally sourced, like the beer butter tarts from the Pantry Shelf. In turn, Old Flame collaborated with Jester’s Court Restaurant in making beer-infused barbecue sauce and with Herrington’s Butcher Shop in producing their lamb and lager pie. All establishments are also located in Port Perry, Ontario.
If you’re just visiting the brewery for the first time, sample a flight of beer. There are many to choose from but I would suggest trying a variety – from a light lager to a darker stout. Specifically, a sampling of Love Potion No. 9, Blonde, and Red is a welcoming introduction to the world of hand-crafted beer at Old Flame. When you stop by for a visit, make sure to ask the staff the story behind the name Old Flame and their signature beers. There is theme of nostalgia, if you haven’t caught on.
My favourite drink is the Diva Drink, a sweet concoction that is hauntingly similar to a Shirley Temple but with alcohol, of course. In fact, it is mixed with the same ingredients as the Shirley Temple with the addition of Old Flame’s signature Blonde lager. Other cocktails that are highly recommended include: Shandy (ginger ale and beer), Radler (grapefruit and lager), and Lime + Lager (lime cordial and beer).
Seasonal drinks guaranteed to taste like a nice Canadian winter in a glass include the Maple Walnut Stout, which is exactly that – a stout infused with aromatic notes of maple and walnut. Scary Mary, a double IPA beer, is another seasonal special. Everything ingredient is, again, sourced locally.
Next time you’re hiding indoors from the harsh cold winter, consider venturing out to a craft brewery: It’s entertaining. You’re guaranteed to be well-fed. You’ll be warm throughout from savouring hand-crafted, artisanal beer.
To make your trip much more memorable, consider stopping by other local points of interests highlighted in the Hibernate In Style road trip itinerary. Start planning your warm winter escape now!
Old Flame Brewing Co. is located on 135 Perry Street, Port Perry, Ontario. Before you visit, call ahead of time to book a complimentary tour of the brewery at 289-485-BREW (2739).
Written by guest blogger Shirley Lui of LadyTravelling.com, a blogging and travel resource to all things travel, food, fashion, and beauty for the modern female traveller. Follow @LadyTravelling on Instagram for her adventures in solo travel. Shirley and York Durham Headwaters also thank Mark ‘Big Red’ Forderer (Instagram: @BigRed_Official) for the interview.