There are some great breweries in Stratford that you should have on your radar when you’re visiting the historic Ontario city. There’s also a few you’ll want to take note of that are only a short drive away in Shakespeare, St. Mary’s and Mitchell, respectively.
It’s no secret how much we love Stratford. Quite frankly, there’s a lot to love. That’s where people often get it wrong when it comes to Stratford. They focus all of their attention on the admittedly incredible Stratford Festival, and they don’t leave enough room to explore the other aspects of the city that make it such an Ontario tourism icon.
One area in particular in which the city is criminally underrated is in its beer offerings. There are a handful of great breweries in and around Stratford, and we want to put some more eyes on these brewers so that you know where to get a cold one the next time you’re in town.
Breweries in Stratford to Have on Your Radar
We’ll run through our favourite spots to get a pint. We’ve happily put in the time and research so that we can go in-depth on what makes each one of these spots worth popping into.
We should note here that if you’re interested in making a day of it when you’re visiting Stratford, you should be aware of the Bacon & Ale Trail. Basically, it’s a self-guided tour that introduces you to the brewing and pork history of the region.
We’ll share this from their site about the Bacon & Ale Trail:
“With each trail purchase, you get to choose which five stops, out of the participating businesses, to redeem your five vouchers for a bacon or ale delight on your self-guided tour. The cost for 5 vouchers is $39.55 (including HST) – note that you may use one voucher per stop. The Bacon & Ale Trail is available year-round.
Bacon & Ale Trails are available for purchase the same day you are completing the trail in downtown Stratford at Destination Stratford, 47 Downie Street; Bradshaws, 129 Ontario Street; Small-Mart, 119 Ontario Street; and Werk Shop, 111 Ontario Street. Vouchers do not expire and can be used over multiple days.
Every stop is unique and features a different bacon and/or ale item to enjoy.”
It was the Bacon & Ale Trail that piqued our interest about Stratford breweries in the first place, so we wanted to make sure we gave a proper nod to this initiative. If beer and bacon aren’t your thing, there’s also The Chocolate Trail.
Jobsite Brewing Co.
Jobsite is a construction themed craft brewery in Stratford that we adore. Their taproom is large and welcoming, and the real difference maker as far as we’re concerned is their wood oven where they make some absolutely delicious pizza.
We want to share this from their site:
“At Jobsite we believe that craft beer is more than just inhouse brewed beer. It is an opportunity for a customer to learn, interact and enjoy beer with the people that have a passion to create it. Here we believe that craft beer can foster great community spirit, and brings people together to support Stratford and its locals. That is why we at Jobsite Brewing Co. believe in Building Better Beer!”
One of our favourite parts about Jobsite is that their location is set right beside the railway tracks, and every time a train goes by, everyone stops what they’re doing (even the customers!) and yells “Choooooo! Chooooooooo!”
It’s fun to be a part of.
Now onto the beer. Their beers, as you might imagine, are nods to the construction industry. For the record, this is due the to fact that Jobsite Brewing Co. was born when Dave Oldenburger and Phil Buhler had a conversation about starting a brewery during a break at a construction site.
Their staples are the Impact IPA, Big Pour Stout, 2×4 Cream Ale, Wrong Nail Amber Ale, Welder’s Flash White Stout, and Muddy Boot Brown. Of that group, our favourites were the Impact and the 2×4.
They also have plenty of seasonal and rotational beers running through their taps. The Lumberyard Lager, for example, is rather delightful. It’s a Helles style lager brewed from yeast and pilsner malt from Switzerland.
Black Swan Brewing Co.
Black Swan is another notable brewery in Stratford, and you can find their operations over on Downie Street, not far from the heart of town.
Bruce Pepper and Ryan Stokes have been brewing for a long time, and Black Swan is where they put all that knowledge to use. As they note on their site, “Our beer has – to our delight – quickly developed a strong and passionate local fan base, and we look forward to expanding that.”
They’re especially well know for their English Pale Ales, Porters, and IPAs. We’d start with their classic English Pale Ale to get a real understanding of their dedication to a quality brewing process. It’s a malt forward beer that’s light copper in colour.
If you’re looking for something a little different, the last time we visited they had a beer called Road Trip to Tijuana on their rotational tap. It’s an easy drinking beer with a touch of chipotle and lime on the backend. It’s a perfect Ontario summer time brew.
Stop by, get a flight, and we’re sure you’ll find a beer or two that will become a new favourite.
Heritage Hops Brew Co.
You’ll find Heritage Hops Brew Co. right across from Market Square and thus City Hall. They’ve got an eclectic little taproom if you want to pop-in, but it’s also a nice spot to grab a tall can or two to accompany a bite to eat from a local restaurant in the city’s main square.
They’re known for a selection of true to style beers, but also typically have a few fun rotational taps on the go. We’ve had the Perth County Conspiracy Pale Ale which is a tasty ale with some fruit on the backend, as well as the It’s Noon Somewhere lager which has a lower percentage (4%) and a fairly low IBU as well (10).
We haven’t tried them just yet, but they’re also very well known for making a solid fruited sour (Abandoned at the Altar) as well as popular IPA (21 Haze).
Other Breweries Around Stratford to Consider
There are three spots (the above listed) that are in and around Stratford’s core, but there are also a handful of other breweries that within a short driving distance – many of which are part of the Bacon & Ale Trail.
Broken Rail Brewing (St. Mary’s, Ontario): Broken Rail’s name comes from where it’s situated. They’re right at the St. Mary’s Junction Railway Station which was a small station built for the Grand Trunk Railway back in 1858. Our favourite beers from them are the Bend the Rail IPA and Incandescent Blonde Ale.
Shakespeare Brewing Company (Shakespeare, Ontario): Shakespeare Brewing Company is located between Stratford and Kitchener-Waterloo (located in Waterloo Region). They’re a small craft brewery that has fun with the whole Shakespeare theme, and a nice little covered patio. We’d recommend going off the board a little and trying their Strawberry Vanilla Milkshake IPA.
Black Donnely’s Brewing Company (Mitchell, Ontario): This brewery is focused on making craft beer in the service of telling a gripping story when Ontario was but a frontier. You can read the full story on their site here. They make a mean milk stout (1880 Milk Stout) for anyone who appreciates a good stout.
That’s a wrap on some of our favourite breweries in and around Stratford. We hope this serves you well, and you find a new beer or two that really hits the spot.
We want to humbly thank Visit Stratford for hosting us as media. All opinions are completely our own.
Christopher Mitchell is the Cofounder of Ultimate Ontario. He’s visited over 80 countries, and has lived on 4 continents, but now has his eyes set squarely on exploring this incredible province, and helping others do the same.