Beer Column: Goderich brewery worth the search

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Peckish tourists to Goderich know two things. The best doughnuts in town are at Culbert’s Bakery and the best food is at Thyme on Hwy. 21.

Now, there’s a new craft brewery added to the mix that locals have been quick to embrace, but visitors haven’t yet discovered.

Square Brew — its name is homage to the pretty Lake Huron town’s historic central square — was opened in June by buddies Alex Menary and Connor Brown with a little cash startup help from family and friends.

Menary, who home brewed while studying engineering and went on to study at Brewlab in Sunderland, England, is the brewmaster.

“The styles really are what I like to drink,” Menary said. “On a day-to-day basis, I really enjoy hoppy beer and well-made lagers. There wasn’t a lot of options for well-made Ontario pilsners, so I really wanted to do something there. The Vienna lager is great because it helps round out our tap list with a dark beer. I wanted to make sure that we had a beer for everyone when they come in.”

So far, they’ve brewed Vienna Is Waiting, Square Brew Pilsner, and Hop Miner, an India pale lager whose name is a tribute to the famous Goderich salt mine located under the lake. Hop Miner is a cousin to the more familiar India pale ales, but more mellow.

“I am hard-pressed to say there is a clear favourite so far. Square One and Vienna Is Waiting came out at the same time when we opened and they have sold about equally as well as each other,” said Menary, who grew up in Milverton. “The Hop Miner came later and by that point we were close to out of the other two beers. I think it will take me a little more time to tell if we have a crowd favourite here.”

Novel packaging has quickly endeared Square Brew to locals. The beer is available in “crowlers.” These one-litre cans are filled at the tap and are an amusing talking point alternative to the more familiar craft beer growler jugs, which are almost twice the size.

Square Brew is part of impressive wave of craft breweries in Huron County. It is No. 6, joining Stone House in Varna, Half Hours on Earth in Seaforth, Bayfield Brewing Company, Bad Apple Brewing near St. Joseph, and the biggest of the bunch, Cowbell Brewing in Blyth. All this craft beer in a county of 60,000 residents.

“So far, the locals have been the big crowd at the brewery,” Menary said. “The people from the area have been super supportive of us. Over the last couple weeks we have started to see more tourists making their way to the brewery.”

Part of that might be the location, which demands a little bit of probing. Square Brew is at 430 Parsons Court, maybe not as perfect a spot as somewhere on the square or in the old CPR train station on the waterfront so far as tourists are concerned. Still, it’s worth the effort and, for brewcationers, a great new discovery.

— — —

It’s from Russia with love for Railway City’s Platform 17 home brewing contest.

A Russian imperial stout recipe by Dennis Kwasnycia of London impressed a panel of six brewers and certified judges to earn the top prize of brewing a 20-millilitre batch and $300 cash.

“I chose to enter a Russian Imperial Stout because that style has a rich and complex palate,” Dennis said in an email. “I opted to not use additions like coffee, cocoa, vanilla or bourbon, because I wanted the roasted malts to take the spotlight in this case.”

This year’s contest drew entries from across Ontario.

Dennis also received second place for his specialty IPA. A spiced beer by Bobby Jacques of Windsor was third.

Wayne Newton is a freelance writer based in London.

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