Return to Barley Days: One-of-a-kind brews in the County

Brewmaster Alex Nichols begins the process of barrel-aging beer. Photo: Great Canadian Beer Blog

There is nothing like drinking maple syrup with your dinner—in a beer, that is. 

Barley Days Brewery in Prince Edward County specializes in crafting seasonal beers for residents to enjoy with festivities. With spring’s arrival, the sap begins to flow and Barley Days offers customers a Sugar Shack Ale, brewed with maple syrup from nearby Fosterholm Farm.

Judging by the reaction from customers on the brewery’s Facebook page, the season-specific beers are a huge hit. Stocks of the Sugar Shack Ale sold quickly at the annual Maple in the County event and the brewery has almost sold out its entire 2011 batch.

The company also offers a Yuletide beer made with County cherries, a harvest ale made with local wheat, a dark ale, a Loyalist summer ale and a May bock for consumers who still desire a craft beer once the maple syrup has dried up.

Founded by Christopher and Norah Rogers, Barley Days offers local residents, tourists and LCBOs with a great-buy local option. Supported by sales driver Donna Sauvé and brewmaster Alex Nichols, the local business have created a winning recipe for success.

Donna Sauvé on tap at Barley Days Brewery.

Situated at an old dairy farmhouse outside Picton, Barley Days has based its label and brewing on historical roots.  In the 19th century, barley and hops were the cash crops of the County.  The American demand for these ingredients was high and the settlers catered to the demand. Barley Days celebrates these boom years by reaching back to the days when barley enabled the County to flourish. With the recent winery expansions, the County is once again reliving the Barley Days.

As a craft brewery, Barley Days uses local, high-quality ingredients to cut down on shipping costs; yet, this allows the brewery to offer their seasonal, one-of-a-kind brews.

The brewery continues the local theme by using paintings by the famous artist, Manly MacDonald.  Four different bottles use MacDonald’s paintings, which were famous for their depictions of area landscapes.

When MacDonald’s images cannot be used for bottles, Barley Days employs local artists, such as Aidan Haley, whose work adorns the bottle of the 2011 Sugar Shack Ale. Each year the brewery showcases these local talents when the various seasonal beers arrive in stores.

BARLEY DAYS BREWS

  • Wind and Sail Dark Ale 5% alc./vol: A dark, heavy ale based upon a nutty and chocOlate flavour is a nice addition to a hot winter meal. Availability: Year-Round
  • Harvest Gold Pale Ale 4.8% alc./vol: A golden, light ale spiced with apple and peach. Availability: Year-Round
  • Loyalist Lager 4.5% alc./vol: A smooth, easy-to-drink lager that is perfect for the hot summer days. Availability: Summer
  • Yuletide Cherry Porter 5.5% alc./vol:  An unfiltered, cherry red porter that is a perfect supplement with turkey and cranberries. Availability: Winter
  • Working Man’s Stout 4.5% alc./vol: A heavy, roasted flavour is a perfect way to reward a hard worker. Availability: Winter-Spring
  • Sugar Shack Ale 5.5% alc./vol:  The famous County treat is the strongest brew by Barley Days and goes well with pancakes or any spring treats. Availability: Spring

BARLEY DAYS BREWERY

13730 Loyalist Parkway (Highway 33), Picton, Ontario   Telephone 613.476.PINT (7468)

The beer is available on tap at nearby Waring House (same proprietors) which offers tourists and locals a chance to taste the seasonal beers along with a meal. Consumers can also find the brew at many Quinte area LCBOs, although selection may be limited to the year-round brews.

Barley Days Brewery will be a Featured Craft Brewer at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival taking place June 4-5 at Crystal Palace in Picton, in the heart of Prince Edward County, Ontario’s fastest-growing culinary destination and Canada’s newest VQA wine region. Barley Days beers will be available for tasting at the All-Day Cheese-Tasting Seminar Program and Cooks & Curds Cheese Gala on Saturday and during Artisan Cheese & Fine Food Fair on Sunday.

—Troy Stewart

Troy Stewart, a recent graduate of the Post-Grad Public Relations Program at Loyalist College looking for a career in PR, maintains a blog called PR with Troy. He likes his cheese and he likes his beer.