Follow beer writer, Troy Burtch, as he explores the wonderful world of craft beer and the pubs that serve it. Great Canadian Beer is a place to come to catch up on beer news, read tasting notes, check out event listings, and for pub previews and reviews.


Friday, February 27, 2009

The Publican House Brewery: Peterborough, ON

I'm headed back home this weekend to do some long overdue ice fishing (where you can guarantee a lot of beer will be consumed), and I thought I'd share my profile of the Publican House Brewery in Peterborough - as it appeared in the Winter Issue of TAPS: Canada's Beer Magazine.

Peterborough, Ontario has a population of 74,600 and is home to the notorious Trent University and Fleming College. The city is situated 1 ½ hours northeast of Toronto and 3 ½ hours from Ottawa and is bordered by beautiful scenery known as the Kawartha Lakes. The city and its surrounding area is fast becoming a hot bed for beer activity with popular pubs like St. Vernous, the Deli Ritz, The Stinking Rose pub and the Church Key Brewing Co.

Recently, a new brewery has been capturing the attention of curious passerby’s as The Publican House Brewery opened their doors, joining the list mentioned above. Owner Jon Conquer spent the last five years working on a business plan that would allow him to get back to brewing beer for distribution and the first growler left the retail store on October 3th, the first official day of business. The brewery is located two blocks north of Peterbourgh’s locally focused downtown markets and situated smack dab in the middle of student housing. “We have a killer location,” stated a smiling Conquer while showing me around the 30hl brew house. Said Conquer, “The brewery is right in the mix of the student housing, within walking distance of downtown, far enough away from the nearest LCBO and Beer Store and next to the old Peterborough Arms Pub (which is part of the brewery), we are attracting drinkers of all ages.”

Conquer’s name may be familiar to those who take interest in the Ontario brewing industry as he was part owner and primary brewer of the now defunct Kawartha Lakes Brewery (the Amsterdam Brewing Co. bought the rights to the KLB brands after the brewery closed its doors and now brews them for wide scale distribution). “KLB was a brewery that grew way to fast, way to soon and it hurt us in the long run. I started working on a business plan for a new brewery the day it all ended and after five years and two days, I’m proud to be back in the industry.”

There are big plans for the Publican House Brewery. “I plan on brewing eight different styles at different times throughout the year to keep drinkers palates on edge,” Conquer boasts. Explained Conquer, “There are enough light lagers and mainstream beers being brewed for sale in this province and the Publican House is all about producing quality ales for the curious drinker.” Their signature beer is simply called House Ale and will be produced year round. It is available at local Peterborough Beer Stores in single 473ml cans and also from the brewery’s retail store in growler, can and keg format. “The House ale has been selling extremely well at the brewery; so much that we have run out numerous occasions.”

Conquer also brews a pale by the name of Square Nail. Named after all the old square nails found during the re-modeling of the Arms, the pale ale recently made a surprise appearance in Toronto during Bar Volo’s Cask Days and was extremely popular. “I am very proud of the pale ale. It is a sessionable beer with a good hoppy character that will hopefully open some eyes.” Other beers include a summer seasonal called Wheat OC Rousse, a winter season called Irish Ale, Stone Wall stout, Head of Trent Fest, Real IPA, Eight or Better Belgium style ale and Conquer has left space available for a surprise experimental beer from time to time. “Our neighbour’s to the south are all about experimenting with various styles and it works very well for them. I think Peterborough is ready for this,” proclaimed the owner.

The retail store features a small tasting bar where Conquer is taking advantage of the recently legislated “By the Glass” regulation. “This Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) provision allows us to sell a 12oz samples to potential customers while they are enjoying the brewery,” stated Conquer who believes more Ontario breweries should take a closer look at. “Were brewing craft beer for Peterborough and the Kawartha area and getting people into the brewery to taste what we can offer is a big priority in winning over new beer drinkers. Getting our beer into their hands, while charging a modest fee for the beer, is an added bonus.”

The brewery is located right beside the once popular Peterborough Arms pub and was part of the package in Conquer’s decision to open his brewery in this location. Previously owned by the Arrow Pub group (Woolwich Arms, Bow and Arrow), the Peterborough Arms sold more beer than any other pub in the area and Conquer has big plans over the next two years. “Phase one will include opening up the 130 seat patio and serving barbequed food.” Conquer continued, “phase two will include opening up the actual pub and running lines from the brewery into the bar area for a Tied House, something this province is lacking.” Being realistic in his goals, Conquer acknowledges that instead of attacking one big elephant, it would be easier to tackle two smaller ones and plans on opening the pub in two years time. “The patio will be open by next summer; however, the building won’t be operational as a full tied house for a couple more years.” The blue prints and artist rendition prints are fixed to a wall in the brewery and things look fantastic.

The building is fascinating. Built by OC Rousse in 1877, the large Victorian structure looms over the brewery and stands out among the other old homes in the area. It is an exciting new development for the city of Peterborough and who knows it better than Mayor D Paul Yotte, a fan of the new beer Conquer brews daily. “The Mayor has visited the brewery for samples on more than one occasion and is a big fan of the beer and our goals for the area.” The tied house, when complete, will no doubt attract many day visitors from around the province; people coming to try the new beers and relax in the pub, which will be beneficial to the city.

The retail store is open seven days a week, giving customers the opportunity to visit and taste what’s available. The doors are open Monday to Saturday from 11am to 11pm and on Sunday from 11am to 6pm. There is glassware, coasters, growlers, and cans ready for purchase, and chances are Conquer will be there to greet you with his infectious smile. “I’m back and looking forward to brewing some complex beers for consumption.”

The Publican House
300 Charlotte Street
Peterborough, ON K9J 2V5


3 Dog Brewery said...

I have been there a few times. Great beer. The patio will be nice this summer. The location is great. Any time you are downtown, just drop in for a growler and you are on your way. Who needs the Beer Store with their fuzzy yellow lagers?

3 Dogs

Troy Burtch said...

Yeah, I'm looking forward to the patio this summer. The four beers I've tasted from Publican have just been great.


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