It was pouring rain when we rounded the corner outside of Bloomfield roaring towards the town of Picton when we saw a large building looming on the left – Barley Days Brewery. I’m a sucker for a microbrew and we had read a few punchy lines of copy about the brewery being open on Sunday as part of Maple Fest. The truck guided itself to a smooth stop on the gravel parking lot and we entered the brewery.
We were greeted with a massive smile and a giant hello by Donna (Sauvé, the sales manager). It wasn’t more than a few moments before we found ourselves with a small pill container full of Sugar Shack Ale – it all made sense as the entire region is engulfed with maple syrup festivities.
Dana drank hers a little too swiftly and received a warm and teasing chiding – her technique paid off as it only gave her a further bounty – another sample! We were told to hold on to our samples until we could try a sugar shack nut loaf that was a sweet and blessed match with this sweet ale.
The beer smells sweet and candied and pours a dark gold/ caramel color that is very reminiscent of it’s inspired ingredient (or “obedient ingredient” as Roger Mooking would say). The ale is not overly sweet – much of the initial profile starts like a fairly standard ale that begins to show a little bite of bitter before being chased by a sweet finish. The more you concentrate on the idea of maple, the more you will find what you are looking for. It’s a pleasant twist and a wonderful winter beer.
Next up was Wind and Sail Dark Ale. Before reviewing the actual beer, note that amount of unapologetic Canadiana that shines through these bottles. So many of our products emulate something from somewhere else – Barley Days was flat out to be proud of what it is – an Ontario Craft Brewery.
This was a stunning pour – toasted flavors that shared profiles of caramel and light bitterness. This beer had an amazing texture that lined the milk with silk. The light carbonation proved to be much more resilient than it first looked and appeared to have legs within the glass. Subtly candy-like this bronzy-gold ale was crazy drinkable – I actually had a difficult time putting it down once poured in a glass at home. If there’s a single fault it’s simply that traditional ale drinkers may find it too sweet and lacking bitter. I am not one of them.
What truly set Barley Days apart was it’s team. We were welcomed and felt instantly at home – or perhaps like we were pulling up a stool at a regular haunt. The team was quirky, cheery, proud of their product and the region and were just so darn fun that we couldn’t help but have a lift in our day. They welcomed us back, practically insisting that we stop any time we are in town – or within 100 or so kilometers. Donna was fabulous and welcomed everyone equally. She is quirky, passionate and warm – and it is obvious that she loves what she does.
Their product is available at the LCBO – we were lucky enough to escape with a wonderful mixed six pack served up in the Wind & Sail package:
See you in the Country – look for a our pickup parked out front!