Dozens of brewers, journalists and craft beer fans alike gathered in Toronto’s Great Hall on Friday to celebrate the 2017 Ontario Brewing Awards, where 48 honors were given to the outstanding eligible beers and breweries of the 120 entrants.
The large, mostly bearded crowd enjoyed a bevy of free beverages provided at the event, and despite the small sample-sized glasses they were served in, there was no doubt the lively air of the crowd was influenced by the accessible alcohol.
This is the 14th year the Ontario Brewing Awards has been held, but this year there were some changes – and a major announcement. At the end of the evening it was made known that TAPS Media, which owns TAPS Magazine and the Canadian Brewing Awards, was assuming control of future events. Previously, the Ontario Brewing Awards was owned and run by Beerlicious Inc.
In March, TAPS Media announced that the Canadian Beer Awards would only accept entries from wholly-Canadian owned breweries, which excluded entrants under the Molson-Coors umbrella. This decision cost them the sponsorship of the Beer Store (which Molson-Coors owns 49% of).
With the rise of Macro buyouts of craft breweries (such as the 2015 Labatt takeover of Mill Street, a perennial winner at the Ontario Brewing Awards), this clearly aligns TAPS with independent Canadian breweries. At the time of publication, it’s not known whether this change will be implemented at the 2018 Ontario Brewing Awards, although it seems likely.
The number of breweries entered into the competition in 2017 was up nearly triple the amount of entrants from just three years ago. According to the most recent data published by the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB), there were over $240 million in sales of craft beer in Ontario in 2015, which was an increase of 20 percent over the previous year. Entrants in the Ontario Brewing Awards are all judged and awarded by BJCP certified judges.
The Napanee Beer Company: An obvious choice for Newcomer of the Year with their excellent branding and diverse, interesting lineup, Napanee is definitely a newcomer worth keeping your eye on.
Cameron’s Brewing Co. (3)
|Altbier||Old Tomorrow – TRACK 85™ Lagered Ale||Abe Erb Brewing Company – Alterior Motive Altbier||None given|
|Amber Ale||Henderson Brewing Company – Henderson’s Best||Kichesippi Beer Co. – 1855||The Exchange Brewery – Amber Ale|
|Amber Lager||Hop City Brewing Co. – Barking Squirrel Lager||Cool Beer Brewing Company – Millennium Buzz||Lake Wilcox Brewing Co. – Mad Quacker|
|American Brown Ale||Left Field Brewery – Eephus||The Publican House Brewery – Henry’s Irish Ale||Wellington Brewery – (Extra) Terrestrial Imperial IBA|
|American Pale Ale||Great Lakes Brewery – The Brewers IPA (Independent Pale Ale)||Amsterdam Brewing Company – Cruiser All Day Pale Ale||Mill Street Brewery – Welterweight Session IPA|
|American India Pale Ale||Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery – Juicy Ass IPA||Rainhard Brewing Co. – Lazy Bones||Muddy York Brewing Co. – Roller Boat I.P.A.|
|Barley Wine||Cameron’s Brewing Co. – Where The Buffalo Roam||Mill Street Brewery – Barley Wine||Cameron’s Brewing Co. – Early Bird Breakfast|
|Barrel Aged Whisky||Amsterdam Brewing Company – Double Tempest||Nickel Brook Brewing Co. – Kentucky Bastard||Tooth and Nail Brewing Company – Fortissimo|
|Barrel Aged Red Wine||Innocente Brewing Company – Drunkard’s Cloak||Redline Brewhouse – Series 1||Great Lakes Brewery – Barrel-Aged Belgian Style Quad with Cherries|
|Barrel Aged White Wine||Forked River Brewing Company – The Oracle||Calabogie Brewing Co. – Grassy: Saison||Amsterdam Brewing Company – Superstition|
|Belgian Style Dubbel||New Limburg Brewing Company – Dubbel||Descendants Beer & Beverage Co. – DeWulfe||Redline Brewhouse – Brother Douglas|
|Belgian Style Quadrupel||The Napanee Beer Company – Redacted: These Monstrous Things||Brock St. Brewing Company – Danger Lies Ahead||Bell City Brewing Co. – Black Tie Affair|
|Belgian Style Tripel||Rhythm & Brews Brewing Co. – Signed in Tripel||Henderson Brewing Co. – Rube Goldbeer||None given|
|Belgian Style IPA||Redline Brewhouse – Sprung!||Shacklands Brewing Co. – Farmhouse IPA||Batch – Belgian White IPA|
|Blonde Ale||Collective Arts Brewing – Saint of Circumstance||Redline Brewhouse – 5:01||Orange Snail Brewers – Iron Pig|
|Bock||Amsterdam Brewing Company – Spring Bock||Louis Cifer Brew Works – Beelzebock Traditional Bock||Junction Craft Brewery – DESTRUCTOR Series #3 Winter Bock|
|Bohemian Pilsner||Mill Street Brewery – Pilsner Lager||Thornbury Village Craft Brewery – Pickup Truck Pilsner||Brock St. Brewing Company – Premium Pilsner|
|British Pale Ale||Muskoka Brewery – Cream Ale||Niagara College Teaching Brewery – Beer 101: Bitter||Junction Craft Brewery – Conductor’s Craft Ale|
|British India Pale Ale||Longslice Brewery – Hopsta La Vista||Crooked Mile Brewing – Standing Stone||High Park Brewery – Off the Leash|
|Craft Lager||Creemore Springs Brewery – Lot 9 Pilsner||Kichesippi Beer Co. – Heller Highwater||Junction Craft Brewing – Trainspotter Helles Lager|
|Dark IPA||None given.||Lake Wilcox Brewing Co. – Black Hops IPA||Big Rig Brewery – Release The Hounds|
|Dark Lager||The Napanee Beer Company – Blacklist Black German Lager||Cameron’s Brewing Co. – Black Forest Dark Lager||Kame & Kettle Beer Works – Schwarz|
|Doppelbock||Cameron’s Brewing Co. – Deviator Doppelbock||Tooth and Nail Brewing Company – Invigorator||Muskoka Brewery – Sweet Shiver|
|Dunkelweizen||Lake Wilcox Brewing Co. – Dunkel Weiss||Smithavens Brewing Company – Dunkelweizen||Muskoka Brewery – Winterweiss|
|English Brown Ale||Wellington Brewery – County Dark Ale||Granite Brewery & Tied House – Peculiar||Barnstormer Brewing & Distilling Company – Billy Bishop Brown Ale|
|Farmhouse Blonde||Cameron’s Brewing Co. – New Wood Brett Saison||Stone City Ales – Lady Jane||Amsterdam Brewing Company – Reserve Saison|
|Farmhouse Dark||The Exchange Brewery – Oud Bruin||The Exchange Brewery – Flanders Red Ale||Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery – Brown Town Sour Brown|
|Flavoured Stout||Chocolate Cherry Stout||Nickel Brook Brewing Co. – Café Del Bastardo||Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery – Aurora Heart Chocolate Raspberry Stout|
|Flavoured Porter||Not Awarded||Abe Erb Brewing Co. – Abe’s Smoked Porter||Forked River Brewing Company – Full City Porter|
|Fruit Beer||Nickel Brook Brewing Co. – Raspberry Uber||The Blue Elephant Craft Brew House – Summer Harvest Strawberry Lager||The Napanee Brewing Company – Chivalrous|
|German Pilsner||Sleeman Breweries – Silver Creek Lager||Junction Craft Brewing – Local Option Lager||Mill Street Brewery – Snowdrop Pilsner|
|Hefeweizen||Brasserie Tuque de Broue Brewery Inc. – Barbe Blonde||Kichesippi Beer Co. – Hefeweizen||Big Rig Brewery – Big Boot|
|Herb / Spice Beer||Nickel Brook Brewing Co. – Cuvée||5 Paddles Brewing Co. – Italian Backyard||FRANK Brewing Co. – Honey Habanero|
|Honey Beer||None given||5 Paddles Brewing Co. – Home Sweet Home||Bayside Brewing Company – Honey Cream Ale|
|Imperial IPA||Louis Cifer Brew Works – Imperial IPA||Rainhard Brewing Co. – Hop Cone Syndrome||Amsterdam Brewing Company – Fracture Imperial IPA|
|Imperial Stout||Walkerville Brewery- Russian Imperial Stout||Nickel Brook Brewing Co. – Bolshevik Bastard||5 Paddles Brewing Co. – Midnight Paddler|
|Lagered Ale||Lost Craft Brewing Co. – Revivale||Cameron’s Brewing Co. – Cosmic Cream Ale||Big Rock Brewery – Rhine Stone Cowboy Kölsch Style Ale|
|Light||Cool Beer Brewing Company – Stonewall Light||StoneHammer Brewing – StoneHammer Session Lager||Brock St. Brewing Company – Brock Street Blonde|
|Milk Stout||Rainhard Brewing – Sweetback’s||Walkerville Brewery – Easy Stout||Big Rig Brewery – Midnight Kissed My Cow|
|Oktoberfest / Marzen||Royal City Brewing Co. – Oktoberfest Lager||Longslice Brewery – Loose Lips Lager||Innocente Brewing Company – No Marzen for Erorr|
|Porter||Junction Craft Brewing – Hey, PORTER!||Clifford Brewing Co. – Clifford Porter||Innocente Brewing Company – Charcoal Porter|
|Rauchbier||Cameron’s Brewing Co. – Bamberg Castle Smoked Ale||Mill Street Brewery – Rauchbier||Rhythm & Brews Brewing Company – Set The World On Fire|
|Scotch Ale||Amsterdam Brewing Company – Iona Scotch Ale||Walkerville Brewery – Scotch Ale||Granite Brewery – Lady Macbeth Scotch Ale|
|Standard Lager||Cool Beer Brewing Company – Cool Lager||Old Flame Brewing Co. – Old Flame Blonde – Helles Style Lager||Brick Brewing Co. – LandShark Lager|
|Stout||Railway City Brewing Co. – Black Coal Stout||Muskoka Brewery – Shinnicked Stout||Abe Erb Brewing Company – Men In Night Stout|
|Vegetable Beer||None Given||Big Rig Brewery – Tales From The Patch||MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co. – Red Fox Summer Ale|
|Witbier||Louis Cifer Brew Works – Witcraft Belgian Wheat||Stone City Ales – Windward Belgian Wheat||New Limburg Brewing Co. – Wit|
The 2017 Ontario Brewing Awards were undoubtedly a success. Most beers awarded were well deserving, with only a few upsets. With the new independent brewery-supporting ownership taking control of future events, it remains to be seen whether major sponsors like the Beer Store will be returning.