Brewery of the Month: Blue Elephant Craft Brew House

Right in the heart of Simcoe is the Blue Elephant Craft Brew House. Since Heather’s return to Norfolk county in 2012, she has transformed the Blue Elephant from a Thai cuisine restaurant into the craft brewery that we all know and love today. It is modeled after European pub houses, offering great food and drink, and a cozy and intimate atmosphere.

It’s always busy at the brew house, Sarah, the new brewmaster, is constantly coming up with new ideas and experimenting with different ingredients and beer styles. She follows a scientific approach to brewing, beginning with intense research about ingredients and different aspects related to brewing, create calculations to estimate results, and constantly revising the recipe with each tweak done to the brew. With such a thorough brewing process from start to finish, you can expect no less than perfection in each glass of beer.

At any given time, 9-10 beers are available to try, with 4 mainliners available year round. Last summer we sampled Wizard’s Butter Brew, a Harry Potter inspired lager, and Rhubarb Saison, a golden hazy beer with balanced bitterness and tart Rhubarb finish. Now, we can’t wait to see what seasonal brews will be on tap this summer.

Meanwhile, the mainliners are classic styles perfect for any occasion. The Gentlemen’s Pilsner is a European style pilsner with a nice hop and malt undertone. It was also the official beer for the Mumford and Son’s Festival in 2013, a great source of pride for the Blue Elephant. The Red Devil is an auburn ale created for easy drinking because of its balanced hop, malty, and crisp taste and nose. Lastly, the hugely popular Strawberry Lager is made with local strawberries, and a silver award winning brew!

There is always something brewing at the Blue Elephant, we can’t wait to try what’s going to be on tap next or create our very own beer through their Brew Camp program.

Brewery of the Month: Railway City Brewing Co.

Right in the hustle and bustle of St. Thomas, Railway City Brewing Co. combine the basic building blocks of beer –water, malt, hops, and yeast– with the goal of producing a pint of beer that is harmoniously balanced and highly approachable. Entering the brewery, it is bright and lively. To the right is Railway City merchandise full of clothing, railway spike bottle openers, and drinkware followed by fridges full of a large assortment of beers. Throughout the year, 9 mainliners are offered along with a minimum of 3 seasonal specials.

The brewers are especially inspired by St. Thomas’ history. Their Iron Spike brews inspired by the railway tracks the run through the city and their famous Dead Elephant IPA inspired by Jumbo the Elephant, who passed away in a railway accident. As a tribute to Jumbo’s death anniversary, Railway City releases the Double Dead Elephant IPA every September 15th. This IPA has double the hops, with aromas of peach, cantaloupe, and cotton candy. Ingredients also serve as a huge source of inspiration for the brewers, resulting many experimental beers and releases throughout the year. For example, even though they do not grow their own hops, the brewers work closely with Elgin County growers and even brew one-off Farmhouse ales.

 

Aside from the creative brewers always at the drawing board, the brewery is also very involved with the community. Frequently hosting yoga and beer nights, wood fired pizza every Friday and Saturday with Elgin Harvest, games nights, paint nites, and “Social Taps”, in which proceeds goes towards a different local charity each month. In addition to all these activities you can often find Railway City in some beer festival, near or far.

To top things off, Railway City Brewing Co. hosts a Platform Competition every May, celebrating the art of homebrewing and love of craft beer. Many breweries began from homebrewing hobbies, which is why Railway City  provides a platform for homebrewers to create something special to keep the creative process alive and well throughout the craft brewing industry. As a result, the winners of the competition will receive cash prizes and have their signature brew bottled and released as a seasonal offering later in the year.

For the love of craft beer and the community, the engine is always running at Railway City Brewing Co. We hope this is a train you’re willing to hop on as well.