Home to over four dozen independent breweries that are getting attention around the world, Ottawa is a top destination for craft beer lovers. But don’t take our word for it – come and taste for yourself! Whether you hop on a brewery bus tour, attend beer events or sip suds in a local pub, there are plenty of fun and tasty ways to whet your whistle in Canada’s capital!
You’ll find Ottawa’s eclectic breweries in trendy neighbourhoods, industrial parks or rural areas. Some produce traditional ales and lagers while others focus on IPAs, sours and even gluten-free beer. Their marketing can be funky or historical and hey sometimes create their own equipment and donate brewing by-products to local farms. Ottawa breweries also support each other and their communities in ways that make you feel good when drinking local beer!
Here a just a few Ottawa-area breweries that are worth toasting:
- Dominion City Brewing Co. - Canada’s first Kickstarter-funded brewery is located in a suburb just east of downtown Ottawa. Dominion City collaborates with Ontario beverage makers, food producers and restaurants to organize pop-up events that support various causes.
- Beau’s Brewing Co. - One of the leaders of Ottawa’s modern craft brewing craze, this family brewery (now employee-owned) opened in 2006 in a quaint village between Ottawa and Montreal. Beau’s collaborates with international breweries as well as individuals like Canadian comedian Tom Green. The brewery also launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a women-run brewery in Rwanda.
- Kichesippi Beer Co. - This brewery loves to tell Ottawa stories. It’s named after the word the Algonquin people used to describe the Ottawa River as “Great River”; it gives most of its beers Ottawa-related names; it produced a specific brew for the 100th anniversary of the Bytown Museum; and although Kichesippi focuses on traditional beer styles, it also gives its staff the opportunity to produce any type they like.
Craft beer-friendly restaurants and bars
Restaurants and bars all over the city proudly support local as well as international independent brewers. Here are a few places where you’ll feel right at home ordering a pint, can or bottle from the local craft beer list, or requesting that hard-to-find favourite:
- Elgin Beer Project on Elgin Street has one of the largest selections of locally brewed beer in the city. And take advantage of their lively patio in the summer!
- CRAFT Beer Market at Lansdowne lives up to its name, serving over 100 beers on tap. You’ll normally find over a dozen craft beers from the greater Ottawa area.
- The Château Lafayette (known locally as The Laff), located in the ByWard Market neighbourhood, may be Ottawa’s oldest tavern, but its menu is up to date with lots of local beers highlighted for your convenience.
- Pub Italia is an Italian-trattoria-meets-Irish-pub in Little Italy which carries over 200 beers from around the world. Select one of the many Ottawa brews listed in their “Beer Bible”, or get your trappist, abbey and obscure beer fix.
Brewery bus tours
While exploring Ottawa’s vibrant neighbourhoods, you can easily visit several Ottawa breweries located within walking distance of each other. But for the ultimate local craft beer experience, let the folks from Brew Donkey do the planning and the driving!
Brew Donkey’s half and full-day bus tours take you to multiple craft breweries of all types and sizes throughout Ottawa’s urban and rural areas. At each location, you sip generous samples of craft beer while enjoying behind the scenes access and learning about the brewing process. Need some variety? Choose a tour that stops at a local distillery, game lounge or sports event.
Throughout the year, you’ll find local craft beer served at the many events and festivals in the Ottawa region. However, the city also hosts specific events that celebrate your favourite sudsy beverage. Some focus on local brews, while others serve beer, cider and other libations from throughout Ontario, Quebec and beyond. Here are just some of the annual highlights (subject to change):
- Ottawa Beer Fest at Lansdowne (May): Large selection of beers, activities, seminars, live music and even a craft beer run.
- Gatineau Beerfest at the Place des Festivals Zibi (June): Largest beer event in the region in a stunning indoor and outdoor setting with beer, food and live music.
- Orleans Craft Beer Festival in Orléans (June): This outdoor event takes place in a suburb east of downtown. Enjoy some of Ottawa’s best craft beer, food, live music, and more.
- Dominion Day at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum (July 1): Dominion City Brewing hosts this Canada Day event featuring guest breweries, family-friendly activities, live music and a beer school.
- Beau’s Oktoberfest at Beau’s Brewing Co. (September): Beau’s hosts a popular family-friendly Oktoberfest party on their rural property in Vankleek Hill, about an hour east of Ottawa. Independent guest breweries, local food and top Canadian performers are featured. Bus shuttles available from Ottawa, Montreal and Cornwall. Camping available.
- Oktoberfest Ottawa in Barrhaven (September): Craft beverages, food, activities and performers under a giant bier tent in a suburb south of downtown.
- Gatineau Winter Beerfest at the Canadian Museum of History (February): This winter edition of the Beerfest has similar offerings but is held inside the museum.
DIY beer map
You can also plan your own tasty road trip by using the handy Backroom Deals and Muddy Wheels Trail Map. Whether you’re already in Ottawa or driving from Toronto, Montreal or elsewhere, you can stop at some of the best craft beverage and food purveyors along the way. Just make sure to have a designated driver so you can fully take advantage of the delicious beverages!
To enjoy Ottawa craft beer to its fullest, you’ll need delicious food to go with it! See our list of Great Ottawa restaurants for some inspiration.