It’s no secret that the Ontario craft beer scene has been absolutely booming and Hamilton is no different! You’ll find a number of breweries scattered across town each with their own focus as they hone their craft. Be sure to check out these Hamilton breweries for a stellar pint in the city!
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Barrel Heart Brewing
The newest of the Hamilton breweries, Barrel Heart Brewing is unique in that they focus entirely on Saisons. Each one of their brews is aged in oak barrels that at one point held wine! Locally grown fruit is then refermented to create brilliant beers. But wait, there’s more! Once each brew has been bottled, it matures in their cellars before being released and ready to drink, just like wine. Weaving together old and new, Barrel Heart Brewing creates unique beers you won’t find anywhere else!
Grab a seat by the bar and enjoy a pint as you admire the barrels in front of you. Each one is full of a unique brew with no barrel sitting empty for longer than a day. Owner Mark Horsley always has blending options available in order to ensure that each beer shines!
Barrel Heart Brewing Information
Address: 53 Bittern St Unit 20, Ancaster, ON L9G 4V5
Hours of Operation: Thursdays & Fridays from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Saturdays & Sundays from Noon until 8:00 pm, Closed Mondays, Tuesdays & Wednesdays
You might not realize it right away but fine dining restaurant Brewers Blackbird in Ancaster is indeed a craft brewery! Housed in George B Rousseau’s historic 1837 home, this heritage building adds an air of sophistication that sets them apart. Serving great beers since 2019, you’ll find eight beers on tap, four of which are from Master Brewer Ken Wood. You won’t find any out-of-the-box, experimental brews here so this is definitely a spot for your more classic beer drinker. Their flagship lager is refreshing and perfect to enjoy on their gorgeous patio alongside bitter, IPA and APA.
While a number of the Hamilton breweries don’t offer food, this is one spot you will want to enjoy a meal at. Chefs Dan Butcher and Ben Root have some tasty options in-store like their ever-popular Taco Tuesdays, fresh salads, tasty handhelds and amazing wood-fired pizzas. You really can’t go wrong with their menu!
Brewers Blackbird Information
Address: 375 Wilson St E, Ancaster, ON L9G 2C1
Hours of Operation: Tuesdays from 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Wednesdays from Noon until 9:00 pm, Thursday through Saturday from Noon until 10:00 pm, Sundays from Noon until 8:00 pm, Closed Mondays
Collective Arts Brewing
If you’re going to know any of these Hamilton breweries, it’s going to be Collective Arts. They’re easily one of the biggest names in the Ontario craft brewery scene! Started in 2013 by Matt Johnston and Bob Russel, Collective Arts is all about melding craft beverages and artistic talents.
They have a wide repertoire of craft beers with new concoctions released all the time. I often indulge in their sours though it’s honestly hard to choose just one brew. Collective Arts is always coming out with new combos that will knock your socks off. The best thing to do is head on into their taproom and grab a flight to give a few of their styles a try! What really sets them apart is each brew comes with its own unique label, designed by artists from around the world. If you’re a practicing artist yourself, you can always submit your own design during one of their two early calls for art!
Besides craft beer, Collective Arts has expanded their offerings to include award-winning gins, barrel-aged rums and a range of pre-mixed cocktails. For those looking to be responsible, they have a number of tasty non-alcoholic beers as well as refreshing sparkling water you can enjoy! Unfortunately for those cider drinkers, they have scaled back their production and are no longer making them. Yes, I shed a tear about this too!
Collective Arts Brewing Information
Address: 207 Burlington St E, Hamilton, ON L8L 4H2
Hours of Operation: 11:00 am to 9:00 pm Daily
Clifford Brewing Company
Like many brewers, owner Brad Clifford started off homebrewing, founding Clifford Brewing Company in 2015 as he began contract brewing his flagship porter for sale to a variety of licensed establishments. Come 2017, Clifford Brewing found its home inside a 10,000 square foot warehouse in the city’s east end with the taproom opening in early 2018. The following year, Clifford won Canadian Brewery of the Year at the 2019 Canadian Brewing Awards as four beers medalled at the competition!
Their core beers are in the realm of lagers, pale ales and darker brews. Seasonally though, Clifford Brewing dabbles in a number of different styles. Personally, I enjoy their Fruition Fruited Sour with blood orange and guava but I’m a sucker for sours. While they don’t have food, Clifford Brewing has ample seating, a stage where they regularly host live music events and a plethora of arcade games. What more could you want for a night out with friends?
Clifford Brewing Co Information
Address: 398 Nash Rd N #1, Hamilton, ON L8H 7P5
Hours of Operation: Sundays & Mondays from Noon until 6:00 pm, Tuesdays & Wednesdays from Noon until 7:00 pm, Thursdays from Noon until 8:00 pm, Fridays & Saturdays from Noon until 10:00 pm
Fairweather Brewing Company
Head to the west side of Hamilton where you’ll find Fairweather Brewing Company in the heart of the city’s Ainslie Wood neighbourhood. What was once a printing company became the next Hamilton craft brewery as Fairweather opened its doors in May of 2017! In addition to a bright taproom and bottle shop, they have a beautiful 60-seat patio. If you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of their 10,000 square food production facility as it doubles as an event space! Keep an eye on their social media to see what fun activities are coming down the pipeline.
Fairweather Brewing Company has a number of fantastic features, including $5 pours all day long on Thursdays. Another thing to note is that while they don’t have a kitchen, they fully embrace BYOG – bring your own grub! If you need help deciding where to grab some food, take a look at our round-up of fantastic Hamilton restaurants. I’m sure you can find some great eats to pair with their year-round brews High Grade, an American-style IPA, or their dry-hopped sour ale, Dream Pop, which are available all year round. However, my personal favourite is the Mañana.
Fairweather Brewing Company Information
Address: 5 Ofield Rd Unit #1, Hamilton, ON L8S 2M4
Hours of Operation: Monday to Wednesday from Noon until 9:00 pm, Thursdays from Noon until 11:00 pm, Fridays & Saturdays from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm, Sundays from 11:00 am until 8:00 pm
Grain & Grit Beer Co
Opening a few months later than their counterparts at Fairweather, founders Joe and Lindsey have been pouring beers expertly crafted by brewer Alex Sporn since October 2017. Once a mechanic garage, they have embraced the industrial elements to craft a bright, welcoming space. The glass garage doors blend the indoor and outdoor spaces, especially with their heated patio!
Grain & Grit is a fun, family-oriented space where well-behaved children are welcome. It’s not uncommon to see board game nights, paint nights, trivia and even speed dating! Take a peek at their events page to see what’s on the docket. Grain & Grit is also a safe space for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Fruit Salad nights are events organized by and for 2SLGBTQIA+ women, trans, gender non-conforming folks, etc as a way to combat the lack of places dedicated to this community.
Now for their beer! Grain & Grit has up to eight taps going at one time with the majority of their beers being one-offs. That being said, popular beers make their return again and again but this means you’ll always have something new to try! Some of their recurring brews are their In the Palms IPA, Little Thrills Pils and their Berry Good Sour Ale. Personally, I enjoyed their Fresh Faced Sour which is perfect for the patio with a strong pineapple taste!
Grain & Grit Beer Co Information
Address: 11 Ewen Rd, Hamilton, ON L8S 3C3
Hours of Operation: Tuesday through Saturday from Noon until 9:00 pm, Sundays from Noon until 6:00 pm, Closed Mondays
Merit Brewing Company
As “5th ingredient brewers”, the folks behind Merit Brewing Company are always adding something different to every batch of beer they create. Herbs, spices, fruit, tea… you never know what they’ll add but chances are there’s a great story behind it! Even their name has a story.
Merit is a nod to one of the owners, Tej’s grandparents as they owned a furniture store in Nanaimo, BC by the same name. Their store was a way to help the people of their area in India immigrate to Canada so they could start a new life. This reminds the brewers that not only are they there to serve beer and feed patrons but be an integral part of the community. To quote them, “Hamilton is a city defined by merit” and they’re people willing to work to make the city a better place!
Located right in the heart of the downtown core, Merit Brewing is a popular destination for both locals and visitors alike. As such, their beer offerings can change on a dime so if there’s something you like, get a growler to go. I went twice in one week and half the menu was different! Though if you’d like to sample a number of their beers, Tuesdays are your day as all of their 4oz pours are $2. Merit is also one of the few Hamilton breweries with food. Their menu is small but the quality is fantastic. I can’t recommend their sausages enough, especially the steak and stout!
Merit Brewing Company Information
Address: 107 James St N, Hamilton, ON L8R 2K6
Hours of Operation: Monday through Thursday from Noon until 11:00 pm, Fridays & Saturdays from Noon until Midnight, Sundays from Noon until 6:00 pm
Shawn & Ed Brewing Co
Forged in friendship dating back over 25 years ago, the summer of 2013 was a monumental one for Shawn Till and Ed Madronich as they decided to pursue their dream of opening a brewery together. When the old Dundas Curling and Skating Rink was put on the market, they couldn’t think of a more Canadian place to open the one and only brewery in town. Keeping as much of the historic building as possible, it was restored and given new life as a place for friends to gather once again and enjoy a beer together.
Unlike many of the craft breweries in Hamilton, Shawn & Ed stick to the more classic styles of beer. Sour lovers like myself will have to go for the more mainstream brews but you’ll still find something to enjoy. With so many great hikes in the area, you’ll definitely earn Shawn & Ed’s smooth beer that will quite possibly go down just a little too easily.
Shawn & Ed Brewing Co Information
Address: 65 Hatt St, Dundas, ON L9H 0C1
Hours of Operation: 11:00 am to 9:00 pm Daily
More Than Just Hamilton Craft Breweries?
This section is for our readers that aren’t a fan of beer. Never fear! Hamilton is also home to a few craft cideries if that’s more your speed. They are just as high of quality as the breweries in Hamilton.
Address: 150 Chatham Street, Unit 14 Fronts, Frid St, Hamilton, ON L8P 2B6
The brainchild of three friends who absolutely love cider, Steeltown Cider solved an issue they saw in the area. Unlike their counterparts in Spain, France and the United Kingdom, it was hard to find interesting dry rustic ciders from local producers. And so, they set to work and Steeltown Cider was born! With their core cider style being very dry and slightly sour, they then take it to the next level by adding flavour combinations you won’t find elsewhere.
As a cider gal myself, this is easily one of the best spots in Ontario for unique cider creations. You have ciders blended with tea, whiskey barrels, maple syrup and more. Though I absolutely love their Vay Kay as the cider has been aged in tequila barrels to later be blended with mango, pineapple, lime, coconut and sea salt. Yep.
West Avenue Cider House
Address: 84 Concession Rd 8 E, Freelton, ON L0R 1K0
Okay so this is on the outskirts of Hamilton just off Highway 6 but it’s close enough it makes the list. Using heritage apples grown from the thousands of trees in their orchard, this small-batch hard cider producer only uses the highest quality of ingredients. There’s a reason why they’ve been named the best cidery in Ontario for a number of years!
Head to their taproom where you can always enjoy their heritage dry and cherriosity ciders as well as six other rotating taps from the 20 ciders they offer overall. You never know what flavours will be in-store upon your arrival! If their bourbon barrel-aged wild blueberry cider, Bluet Sauvage, is on tap then be sure to snag some of it!
Other Great Spots for Cider & Craft Beer in Hamilton
If you’re unsure which of these Hamilton breweries you’d like to visit, luckily there are some spots in the city where you can give a few of them a go!
The Brain Bar – Located in the heart of James Street North, the Brain Bar is your casual neighbourhood bar bursting with hipster vibes and fantastic beer options. They have a number of Hamilton craft beer options as well as Ontario breweries on tap but their bottle repertoire is top-notch.
Endless – Head to Ottawa Street to check out this bar and bottle shop that adds its splash of vibrance to the east end of Hamilton. They’ve been a favourite spot for locals in the area since they opened in March 2022!
Mosaic – Barton Village’s local craft beer destination in Barton Village. There’s no better spot to enjoy some great craft beer and other adult beverages while surrounded by friends. It’s a small, cozy spot so you just might make some new ones while you’re there!
Of course, if you’re looking to indulge in as many Hamilton breweries and cideries as possible, what better way than a festival? The Because Beer Festival is a three-day event held in July each year. Head to Pier 4 Park where you’ll find over 20 craft breweries and cideries from across the province. Attendees will also enjoy live music, food trucks and fun activities such as mini putt and ping pong. It’s a great way to spend a sunny summer weekend in Hamilton! There is also the Liquid Art Festival hosted by Collective Arts but as of right now, it’s unsure whether it will return for 2023.
Whether you’re planning a day trip or a weekend adventure to check out the craft breweries in Hamilton Ontario, please do so responsibly. Check out these great Hamilton hotels so you can enjoy the city to the fullest!