The experience of visiting a new brewery is bound up in expectant questions.
What will the beers be like? Will I have to give them a break because they’re still “working things out”? Will the space be a hectic mess because the first weeks of a brewery’s life are frenetic? Does the concept fit well into its surroundings? And most of all — is brewery going to be around in a year?
In one way, the chance to build up expectations went doubly for Gateway City. That’s because it’s in North Bay, half a day’s drive from home.
I’ve definitely been as far north in the past, but those were easier summer trips. This one was in full-fledged winter; the overnight temperatures were cold enough to freeze a can of Perrier to exploding temperatures.
A Tesla charging in the parking lot outside of Gateway City, which opened in the final days of 2018, set the tone that we were in for something different from this brewery visit.
The room is large, tall and open with picnic tables and pinball machines (there are services now from whom you can rent a rotating selection, who knew?) next to an impressive line of fermenters. A tasting bar and bottle fridge sit just a little bit off to the left.
Head brewmaster John Palko fuels the brewery with a lineup of truly subtle and spot-on classics. In the short stretch of two of his core beers 11.17 India Session Ale and 503 Dark Rye Lager, it’s clear he has a masterful touch with both hops and malt.
Plus, he a dark English-style mild on tap when I was in. Making that uncommon style earns anyone automatic bonus points.
And for snacks? The partners behind Gateway City, Sully Sullivan, Jeff Hodge and Mike Perreault have committed to going all-vegan including plant-based pepperettes.
I’m afraid I won’t get back to North Bay in the near future so I hope to see Gateway City on tap across the province. The quality of the beer justifies a spot amongst the best in Ontario.
Gateway City, 600-612 Gormanville Rd Unit 206, North Bay