Across Ontario, the craft beer boom is taking hold not only in trendy, urban neighbourhoods but in vibrant rural communities of all sizes. Brewery Discovery Routes, now in its fourth year, offers nine curated itineraries for exploring the rural craft beer scene, and discovering unique food and drink across Ontario and in Ontario’s protected Greenbelt.

“There’s an evolution and a vibrancy in our rural communities,” says Susan Murray, Vice President of the Greenbelt Fund, which works to get more Ontario food on Ontarians’ plates. Murray notes that when residents embrace local, they not only enjoy the delicious offerings at breweries, restaurants, and farmers’ markets of Ontario’s countryside, but are supporting good jobs and strong rural economies that make communities thrive.

“You’ll gain an understanding of the character of our small towns, farms, and local haunts that offer that authenticity that many of us are gravitating toward,” Murray says. “We’re trying to get people out of their cars and out into nature and experiencing a moment of joy tasting local food and drink.”

Ramble, marvel, enjoy

The Brewery Discovery Routes link 200 craft breweries, 40 cideries, and 20 distilleries with farmer’s markets, conservation areas, and Feast On-certified restaurants from Windsor to Ottawa in customizable adventures.

“We want to highlight the breadth and bounty of Ontario,” says Co-founder Frances Pairaudeau.

Each itinerary suggests stops where you can enjoy the region’s best local food and drink. For example, the Rural Routes & Dirty Boots tour includes Old Flame Brewing Co. in Port Perry and nearby bakeries and bistros who use their beer in bread, pastries, soup, and even lamb-and-lager pie.

Breadth and bounty

At Windsor’s Ramblin’ Road Brewery Farm on the Barrels Bottles & Brews route, patrons can look out onto the hop fields from the brewery patio. Many of the suggested stops are in restored heritage buildings, like Signal Brewery in Corbyville’s historic distillery district. All of this contributes to the revitalization of small-town Ontario.

“These are more than just breweries, they’re destinations and community hubs,” Pairaudeau says. “You can enjoy the local beauty and have an economic impact.”

This year, the Brewery Discovery Routes teamed up with Craft Beer Passport to offer 12-ounce pours for only two dollars in many locations and started the hashtag #BrewRoutesON to make it easier to brag about the joys of uncovering all Ontario and the Greenbelt have to offer.

Itineraries are available online at brewerydiscoveryroutes.ca and in printed maps distributed across the GTA. No registration is required and most sites offer beverages in a takeaway format so drivers can safely enjoy the bounty of Ontario’s breweries at home.