Finding tasty craft beer is as easy as one-two-three in Huron County, where a trio of new breweries is ready to satisfy thirsts.
Cowbell Brewing, Half Hours on Earth, and Stone House Brewing Company are located in Blyth, Seaforth, and Varna respectively and, while they share a county and a passion for fresh beer, their owners are blazing distinct paths to success.
Cowbell doesn’t actually yet exist, but its beer does.
Its first, a kolsch called Absent Landlord, was too good to keep waiting, so the brewers decided to have it contract brewed in Hamilton while plans proceed to build an environmentally cutting edge brewery in Blyth.
Kolsch is a German beer style using barley. Once Cowbell has its own brewery up and running in 2017, several more beer styles will be launched including seasonals and one-offs.
“Our goal for Absent Landlord is to achieve broad appeal with new craft drinkers as well as craft beer enthusiasts,” Cowbell vice-president and general manager Grant Sparling says . “Based on feedback at our First Batch Tasting event, as well as early sales in the LCBO and restaurants, Absent Landlord has been very well received.”
Absent Landlord is named for Henry Blyth, the British gentleman who purchased the entire town in 1885, yet never visited.
Among the restaurants serving Absent Landlord are the Black Dog and Little Inn in Bayfield, Hessenland at St. Joseph’s, and Eddington’s in Exeter.
Ground was broken for the Cowbell brewery in June. “The brewery will be built at the south end of Blyth on 59 acres,” Sparling says. “Seven acres will be used for building and parking, 23 acres will be used for events space and a working farm, and the remaining 29 acres was reforested with 11,000 trees — a variety of native species — and features walking trails/cross country skiing opportunities in the winter. This forest will provide enough carbon offset for the entire Cowbell facility.”
“The building (which will house the restaurant/bar, retail space, brew house/cellar/packaging) will be a 25,000 square foot barn. The building has been designed by Allan Avis Architects and it will look and feel like a century old barn — authentic to who we are and where we are.”
It has taken beer geeks a nano-second to celebrate this year’s opening, in Seaforth, of Half Hours on Earth. The original intent of Huron County natives Kyle Teichert and Kristen Harburn might have been low key, but the reality is anything but.
Named for how long it takes to savour a really well-crafted beer (30 minutes), Half Hours on Earth has a constantly rotating selection of beer styles and recipes brewed in small batches.
Beer lovers can take their chances by dropping into the brewery store and buying whatever is on the shelf, but the more certain approach is to take advantage of a new ordering system. Beers are selected online based on availability, then picked up at the store on Saturdays.
A beer delivery system is in the works, but there are no plans to market through the LCBO or grocery stores.
“We got into brewing because we love variety,” Teichert said. “We plan to brew according to what style of beer we feel like drinking at any given time (or season).
“(Our) favourite beers and styles change often. And a lot of what we do prefer, doesn’t really follow style guidelines. Currently we’ve been enjoying fruited sour ales and lightly tart/heavily hopped Farmhouse-style ales.”
In Varna, Mike Corrie draws water from a 250-foot well to brew a pilsner, lager and IPA, all under the Stone House name at Huron County’s original craft brewery.
Stone House Pilsner is a crisp Czech style, available in refillable growlers.
The Stone House tasting room is also home to food pairing events featuring cheeses, fish and spicy foods.
Cowbell Brewing Co.
Flagship beer Absent Landlord Kolsch, available at select LCBO outlets and pubs.
Actual brewery opens in 2017 at the corner of Highway 4 and Road 25 in Blyth.
Half Hours on Earth
Always rotating beers and new recipes.
Order online and pick up at brewery store, 151 Main St. South, Seaforth.
Stone House Brewing Company
Pilsner, lager, and IPA available. Tasting room. Call to book.
76050 Parr Line, Varna, five kilometres east of Bayfield.
Wayne Newton is a freelance journalist in London who enjoys writing about beer and travel.