In large and medium cities across Canada, brick and mortar craft and micro breweries have been thriving; however, until recently, Hamiltonians had few beer-buying options besides standing in line at the LCBO or Beer Store.
In 2015, Collective Arts opened in the renovated Lakeport Brewing Company site on Burlington Street, and just last year, the downtown core welcomed its first brewpub, Merit Brewing Company. Most recently, taprooms with retail space have opened across the city, including two in the city’s west and and the soon-to-open Clifford Brewing Company in the east.
Serving up brewery staples and seasonal selections, some of Hamilton’s breweries also pair good beer with good food. Another perk is that their retail spaces are often open during hours that the LCBO and Beer Store are not (including holidays).
Grain & Grit (11 Ewen Rd, Hamilton)
In fall 2017, Grain & Grit (see our post here) opened in the Ainsley Wood neighbourhood of west Hamilton, focusing on brewing unique beers in small batches. Owned by Joe and Lindsey Mrav, the brewery is a cozy, bright spot to enjoy beer on tap, fill your growler, or to visit their small retail shop where beer is sold in cans. Grain & Grit has already produced some unique brews, including (my favourite) a pineapple rye pale ale. Over the holidays, their winter white stout featured hints of candy cane, cacao, and coffee.
Tuesday-Saturday – 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Sunday – 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
11 Ewen Road, Hamilton
MERIT Brewing Company (107 James St N., Hamilton)
Located on James Street North (where Mex-I-Can once stood), MERIT Brewing Company was “inspired by tradition but likes breaking the rules.” In less than a year, MERIT has gained a reputation as a place to buy and try innovative beers, while also offering some brewery staples, including its Chanan — a dry hopped saison with orange peel and Indian coriander, which the brewery bills as “approachable, but complex.”
Even if you’re not a beer drinker, MERIT is worth a visit for its food. Known for its sausages (which you can now also buy at the bottle shop), it also has a number of vegetarian options, including the falafel dog and cauliflower bhaji. Merit has also recently launched MERIT Shareables, a line that will include pickles, mustards, chutneys, and jams sold in the bottle shop. (Seriously, try the spicy rainbow carrots.)
Monday-Wednesday – 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
Thursday – 12:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
Friday-Saturday – 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Sunday – 12:00 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Monday-Saturday – 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Sunday – 11:00 a.m to 10 p.m.
107 James Street N., Hamilton
Collective Arts (207 Burlington St. E., Hamilton)
Collective Arts Brewing brings together craft beer and emerging visual artists, musicians, and filmmakers. One excellent example is bottle and can artwork that has been created by artists from all over the world. Becoming known for collabs with other breweries, Collective Arts also recently partnered with Donut Monster for a limited-release donut-inspired raspberry milkshake IPA with habanero peppers. It has also released a number of ciders.
Collective Arts offers brewery tours on Saturdays and Sundays, and in the summer the Beergarden features rotating taps, food, music, and events. It also just recently announced the Liquid Arts Festival, a “creative collision of beer, art, and music” which will feature over 50 brewers, artists, and musicians from around the world.
Every day (including holidays): 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
207 Burlington St E, Hamilton
Shawn & Ed Brewing Company (65 Hatt St., Dundas)
Housed in a spectacular building built by a former mayor of Dundas, which was once the Dundas Curling & Skating Rink, Shawn & Ed was co-founded by longtime friends Ed Madronich and Shawn Till. The beautiful re-purposed space in the heart of downtown Dundas is the perfect place to try one of Shawn & Ed’s bottom-fermented brews. You’ve likely seen their LagerShed — a pilsner style lager — at the LCBO. It’s also available in LagerShed Darker and Lighter. Shawn & Ed also hosts events, including live music, at the brewery.
Sunday-Saturday – 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
65 Hatt St., Dundas
Fairweather Brewing Company (5 Ofield Rd Unit #1, Hamilton)
Also located in Hamilton’s west end, Fairweather opened in May 2017 in a former warehouse (See our post here). It features a taproom, bottle shop, and a 15,000 square foot production facility. A 100-mezzanine event space will be completed in 2018. Stop by to try a flight of their ambitious range of beers, which currently include an oat porter, dry-hopped American saison, and a limited release sour ale. I’ve also spotted Fairweather on tap at beer bars across the city, including the Capitol Bar. Fairweather’s well-stocked bottle shop features a number of the beers they have on tap, which you can buy in bottle or fill a growler (64 oz.) or a howler (32 oz.)
Every day – 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
5 Ofield Road Unit #1, Hamilton
Clifford Brewing Co. (398 Nash Rd. N. Unit 1, Hamilton)
After brewing outside the city for a number of years, Hamilton’s Brad Clifford is finally opening a brick and mortar brewery in Hamilton’s east end, where he’ll brew his popular Clifford Porter and Pinball Wizard APA. We’re patiently waiting for the taproom and retail store to open on Nash Road. However, if you can’t wait for Clifford to open, their beers are on regular rotation on taps across the city, including at the Brain, Brux House, The Winking Judge, and the Ship.
Friday-Saturday — 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Sunday — 12:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Weekday hours to come in March
398 Nash Rd. N. Unit 1, Hamilton
Many of the breweries listed here are also available on tap across town. You might also spot beers by The Hamilton Brewery (TH&B). While they don’t have a brick and mortar space, and don’t brew out of Hamilton, their Blue Collar Pale Ale is a staple at bars and restaurants across town.