Let’s continue the Golden Horseshoe road trip, this time stopping off at Niagara-on-the-Lake to have a look at how things are progressing at Silversmith Brewing. For those who missed the news, Silversmith is a brand new brewery that is currently converting an old church to be their future home. They have two beers in production so far, a Black Lager and Bavarian Breakfast Wheat, which are being contract brewed and popping up sporadically across the province. Silversmith is the work of Matt Swan and Chris Pontsioen, along with Scottish-trained brewer Dan MacKinnon, beer lovers who saw a part of Ontario that was largely being ignored by the craft beer revolution.
The brewery was basically a big construction project when we visited, but it was clear under all the sawdust that this was going to end up being a gorgeous spot. The outside of the brewery is covered in vines and the inside retains most of the original structure, meaning lots of wooden beams and brick walls. Not much was set up yet – a bar was in the middle of being stained and the pilot system was waiting to be installed – but I would have been happy to have some beers even in the middle of the chaos. This building will house the retail store, pilot system and event space, while construction has yet to begin on an adjacent building that will become the main brewhouse.
The Silversmith team hopes the Black Lager and Bavarian Breakfast Wheat will offer something new to the Ontario beer industry. Matt and Chris were kind enough to open a bottle of the Wheat for us to try and I think this is going to be a beer that people will love. It’s a drier, hoppier wheat with an incredible nose and long finish. The recipe will be tweaked, but it was already a great start. Early reports on the Black Lager are equally as positive. Dan will be given every opportunity to put his own stamp on the beers and experiment on the pilot system. Using local ingredients from the Niagara region are very important to them, so expect fruit beers that are made with local produce. I can’t divulge some of the experimental beers that might get produced, but it is obvious that there is a lot of creativity behind the beers.
Chefs from the area are already inquiring about coming in to make beers to pair with dishes, which shows how much wine country needs a brewery. Between Silversmith and the Oast House Brewers, Niagara-on-the-Lake is finally coming on to the beer scene in a big, exciting way. It is hard to really judge a brewery before they have actually finished construction, but I’m excited about the possibilities of Silversmith and it has become obvious that a lot of other people are as well. If the reaction so far is any indication, Silversmith cannot be up and running soon enough.