An Exchange For The Better #BrewedAwakening

By / Wine + Drinks / June 29th, 2018 / 26

On my way back from the National Wine Awards of Canada in BC I stopped in Ontario to visit friends and family in my old stomping grounds: The Golden Triangle. My first beer writing job was in the 90s for Great Lakes Brewing News, a newsprint beer paper which is still going strong. I covered beer news for the area south and west from Toronto, as well as homebrewing news for the entire Great Lakes region.

It’s nice to get back every year or so and see what has developed…which is a lot. I spent a dozen years in The Hammer (Hamilton) and there were no microbreweries in those days, just a big brewery which changed hands from time to time (Amstel, Lakeport, etc.). It’s nice to see Collective Arts is in that spot now. They make good beer, and have some of the best labels in the business.

There are several other new breweries in the area, including Shawn and Ed’s in Dundas, and Merit and Rust City in Hamilton. My old local, The Winking Judge, one of the first pubs in the area to feature flavourful local beer, still has a great selection of beer, including cask ale. We enjoyed several pints in their lovely back garden. And there are many more places to find good beer nowadays.

We went to a play in Niagara On The Lake, and went for obligatory pints at The (iconic) Angel Inn, including the tasty Silversmith Black Lager.

Finally, we visited Exchange, a new brewery and taproom on the main drag in NOTL. It’s a shiny, cool spot with a great back deck overlooking the park and some of the town’s beautiful old homes. I tried three of their brews, including a very authentic Hefeweizen, perfect on a hot day; their tart, funky Session Saison; and a well balanced malty Amber Ale. NOTL is a popular tourist town that should have been one of the first to sport a little brewpub/brewery.

Why it took so long I’m not sure, but it was definitely time for Exchange.


Craig Pinhey discovered good drink circa 1985 at Ginger’s Tavern/Granite Brewery in Halifax and has been writing about beer, wine and spirits for 25 years. A Certified Sommelier and BJCP judge, Craig lives in New Brunswick where he runs his own writing and consulting business and is the beverage columnist for Brunswick News. He is the only person to have judged all of the national wine, spirits and beer awards of Canada.

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