You ought to go to Ottawa

Capital beers in the capital city

Situated in Chinatown, Spark Beer is a great spot for adventurous sour beer. Supplied photo

Our nation’s capital usually plays second fiddle as a tourist destination to Montreal and Toronto but it’s a great place for anyone, let alone a beer hound, to stop in for a few nights. Ottawa’s craft beer scene has been growing steadily in size and reputation in the last few years even with all the challenges breweries have had to face during the course of the pandemic.

In addition to being the capital, Ottawa is also famous for sharing a border with Quebec with the city of Gatineau just across the river. This gives you the unique opportunity to try two provinces worth of beer as easily as crossing a bridge.

Ottawa side:

Spark Beer
702 Somerset Street West, Ottawa

One of the newer entries to the craft beer scene, Spark was opened in January 2020 by husband-and-wife John Sproull and Andrea Gormley. Sproull is a fan of mixed-fermentation and sour beer and their tap list reflects that along with the requisite IPAs. 

Ben and Jaime Shillow are the owners of the only Kosher brewery in Ontario.

Shillow Beer Co.
1458 Cyrville Road, Gloucester

Only a little over 10 minutes by taxi from Byward Market you’ll find Shillow Beer Co and it’s well worth the trip. Jamie Shillow has been brewing up fantastic traditional styles such as roggenbier and Vienna lager while also creating more modern takes such as their delicious mango sour and a dry-hopped blonde lager. They’re also the only kosher craft brewery in Ontario. They’ve teamed up with the Fairmont hotel on a collaboration beer called La Terrasse rouge. 


Flora Hall’s eclectic mix of beer styles helps to keep their taproom experience fresh. Supplied photo

Flora Hall Brewing
37 Flora Street, Ottawa

More than perhaps other taprooms, Flora Hall’s focus, aside from their beer of course, is on their food. Somehow covering pizza, Thai, Mexican and Indian cuisines, and doing it well, this is the spot you want to go if you want to  spend a whole evening somewhere. Their lineup features beers great for food-pairing such as English bitter, IPA and pilsner. 


Beyond the Pale have taken their white picket fence theme very literally as the border for the patio. Supplied photo

Beyond the Pale Brewing Company
250 City Centre Avenue, Bay 106, Ottawa

In 2012 Beyond the Pale was making noise right out of the gate in the Ontario craft beer scene with their oatmeal stout The Darkness, which you can still get from the brewery today. Brewer and co-owner Shane Clark followed up with their initial success with current standards like Aromatherapy IPA and Pink Fuzz grapefruit wheat beer, available at the LCBO.

Tooth and Nail Brewing Company
3 Irving Avenue, Ottawa

Tooth and Nail have developed a reputation for making excellent beer in both classic and more modern styles. Brewer and owner Matt Tweedy have also teamed up with Luc Lafontaine from Toronto-brewery Godspeed in making a series of Belgian abbey ales called Abbaye des Sept Minutes. If what you’re looking for are expertly crafted classic styles, try their popular Vim & Vigor pilsner and Fortitude stout.

Bicycle Craft Brewery
850 Industrial Avenue, #12, Ottawa

Cyclist and brewer Laura Behzadi opened Bicycle Craft in 2014 with husband Fariborz. Located just five minutes from Shillow Beer Co, you’ll find a lineup anchored by a variety of IPAs and pale ales including their first IPA Velocipede which is available through the LCBO. 

Shawarma Palace
464 Bank Street, Ottawa

If there’s one food item Ottawa seems to be famous for it has to be shawarma. The consistent refrain from Ottawa residents is that they’ve got access to the best shawarma in the country. Along with other spots such as Shawarma King (just down the street) and 3 Brothers, Shawarma Palace was hailed by one brewery as the best spot in town. 

Gatineau side:

Broue Ha Ha
867 Boulevard Saint-René Ouest, Gatineau, QC

If you’re going to Ottawa you’d be missing out if you didn’t cross the river to visit Broue Ha Ha. Serving the area since 2010, owner Steve Paul has stocked the store with the best beer, cider and wine producers in the area from newer ones such as Messorem Bractorum to stalwarts like Bilboquet and Les Trois Mousquetaires. 

Les Brasseurs du Temps
170 Rue Montcalm, Gatineau

If you want to go to a brewery with a broad selection of styles to choose from, this would be an excellent choice. From grisette to sour to IPA to marzen, this place has something for everyone. The gorgeous building and setting also has the distinction of being the site of the area’s first brewery started by the founder of Hull, Philemon Wright.

Brasserie du Bas-Canada
455 Boulevard de la Gappe, Gatineau

This is also a great spot to go to if you’re looking to try a really wide variety of styles. In business since 2017, they opened in roughly the second wave of Ottawa-area craft breweries but were on the leading edge on the Quebec side of the Ottawa river. Known for their IPAs owners Gabriel Bernier-Girard and Marc-André Cordeiro Lima are adept at making beers to suit every palate.

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