Photo by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor 

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1101 Cafébar (1101 Cannon St. E.) is snugly nestled between the neon lights of Shorty’s Pizza and the blue brick exterior of Osten Beerhall. The café feels warm and inviting. On a sunny day, the sun will shine in through the two wide front windows onto the bright white walls as chill music plays softly in the background. The café and hall are owned and run by Dan Hawkins, Marc Dufort and Robert Squire. Squire says that the café is a great place for students, serving as a perfect study spot and a hip hangout location in the evening. Squire says that they encourage visitors to sit and work for as long as they like.

“I mean, there's plenty of people that are here first thing in the morning and are working here for a considerable amount of hours . . . [d]uring the week, it's a good place I would say to sit and study or work,” said Squire.

As I sat in the café, I saw a revolving door of people coming from all walks of life. There was someone typing away at their laptop, two people chatting over tea lattés and scones and a few other folks who stopped by to pick up a coffee on their way to work. Squire says that a diverse mix of people frequent the business.

As I sat in the café, I saw a revolving door of people coming from all walks of life. There was someone typing away at their laptop, two people chatting over tea lattés and scones and a few other folks who stopped by to pick up a coffee on their way to work. Squire says that a diverse mix of people frequent the business.

“I have as many [people] coming from the Dofasco steel factory as I do young urban professionals that have moved from Toronto, that are in design or creative spheres. And that's one thing that I think that makes this place really vibrant is having some semblance of cross-cultural dialogue, not only in who frequents the place, but in the actual DNA of the business,” said Squire.

1101 and Osten Beerhall are two connected businesses, each space having its own unique atmosphere. The two ends of the business work in tandem to ensure that each has the resources that they need to best meet the needs of their customers.

“1101 services coffee and cocktails to Osten, Osten services our lunch program, beer list, wine list, so that technically it's all one business but outwardly facing it's two different spaces and two different vibes in the spaces,” said Squire.

This combination provides a unique opportunity to minimize the food waste for the beer hall. The lunch menu served at 1101 from 11 a.m. onwards comes from Osten’s kitchens, and has several of the same items as the dinner menu served in the beerhall. Things like brisket, sockeye gravlax and hamburgers are all served at both 1101 and Osten. By offering the same items, the two businesses can help minimize their food waste. Less options between the two establishments means they are less likely to be ordering a surplus of supplies for a dish that isn’t as popular, and less likely to end up with food being thrown away.

As the name suggests, Osten Beer Hall serves mostly beer—both local and imported—in addition to wine, cider and mead. They also have a full dinner menu. Osten Beerhall and 1101 may be connected, but each space has a separate, unique vibe. Both are located immediately next to Shorty’s Pizza, so whether you’re in the mood for espresso, hamburgers or pizza, there’s guaranteed to be something for you. 

Osten Beerhall and 1101 are close to Ottawa Street, but they’re not quite there. Rather than another stop on a shopping trip, 1101 becomes a destination in itself. Between the food, drinks and atmosphere, it is well worth the extra five minutes that it takes to walk up Cannon from Ottawa. 

“[I]t is kind of like a little bit of a destination and a little bit of a trek to get here. But I think the space that we've created here is really welcoming and inviting to all people. And we're excited to share that with people if they want to make the trek to come,” said Squire.

“[I]t is kind of like a little bit of a destination and a little bit of a trek to get here. But I think the space that we've created here is really welcoming and inviting to all people. And we're excited to share that with people if they want to make the trek to come,” said Squire.

Whether you’re looking for a first-date spot, a place to study for a few hours or somewhere to take your friends to dinner, 1101 Cafébar and Osten Beerhall have got you covered. This unique cocktail of coffee and spirits is guaranteed to be your new favourite hangout spot.

 

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Hamilton’s beer and cider scene has been brewing for the past few years, the city slowly becoming home to many local fermenting makers. With a good selection of places to stop for a cold one with the friends, here’s a quick list to help you decide which brewery to visit (although we highly recommend visiting all of them at some point.)

 

Collective Arts Brewing

207 Burlington St E, Hamilton

The industrial-exterior looking Collective Arts Brewing is nothing but the opposite once inside the waterfront brewery. The 24hr brewery is giant compared to other local beer makers in Hamilton, but still cultivates a friendly atmosphere. From their can designs to their performance spaces, Collective Arts focuses on creativity. Peep their wide beer selection and events listings on their website.

 

 

Fairweather Brewing Company

5 Ofield Rd Unit #1, Hamilton

Close to McMaster Fairweather Brewing Company is a brewery offering traditional bottled beers and an intimate but vibrant tap room. If you’re looking for recommendations, regular favourites include the hoppy Sundrop Wheat IPA and NW Pale Ale. Their doughy soft pretzels pair well with all of their flavours. Follow their Instagram for more information.

 

Grain & Grit Beer Co.

11 Ewen Rd, Hamilton

Having just opened in West End in late October, Grain & Grit is already making a splash in the beer barrel in Hamilton. Grain & Grit focuses on small batch brews and serving their surrounding communities. Local beer lovers and students alike can all feel at home in this open and aesthetic brewery. Check out their current beer selection on their Facebook page.

 

Merit Brewing

107 James Street North, Hamilton

Merit Brewing is a recent addition to the HamOnt brewing scene having just open it’s doors to the downtown core this past summer. The micro brewery features not only creative beers but a sausage based menu fit for any hungry beer drinker. Check out what's on tap on their website.

 

Rust City Brewery

27 King William St, Hamilton

Rust City doesn't look like a microbrewery at first; it’s beer brewing machine hidden in the back of the cozy coffeeshop storefront. While their own brew isn’t on tap yet due to current zoning laws, the brewery serves local beers from Hamilton and Ontario. They put the same effort into their food selection as well, offering locally sourced foods for a variety of dietary preferences.

 

Shawn & Ed Brewing Co.

65 Hatt Street, Dundas

Home to the winning Canadian brew from the World Beer Awards, Shawn & Ed started their Dundas brewery with the communities support using Kickstarter. The duo offer quality beers of two types: Lagershed (Original, Darker, Lighter) and Barrelshed (the award winning beer.) Go try one of their brews at their Beer and Board Game night!

We went over to Grain & Grit, a new brewery to the south-west of McMaster's main campus, to check out how they make their beer and what they have on tap.

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IMG_9589While there is no shortage of local venues to enjoy local craft beers and coffee, none have aspired to brew their own beer and roast coffee in downtown Hamilton.

That is, until the official launch of Rust City Brewery, which had their grand opening on March 16.

Located on King William Street, right around the corner from the James and King intersection, the family-operated coffee house and craft beer pub is a stand out amongst other higher-end restaurants on the street.

When entering the coffee and beer house, chances are you’ll probably be greeted by one of the three owners: Nancy Malcolm, James Malcolm and Gabriel Spiegelshrift.

The three consider themselves to be family and each take on a specific role within the business structure.

“James looks after the beer and the coffee and Nancy looks after the kitchen. I am more of the infrastructure side of it,” Spiegelshrift explained.

After years of traveling, the trio decided they were going to build Rust City Brewery together.

“Chicago was when the revolution [happened] where we [said], we can do this too,” said Spiegelshrift.

Rust City Brewery prides itself on its unique casual atmosphere.

“We wanted to address that by having a café, a beer café. We’re not a bar. Even though we have a huge selection of beer on draught and a huge selection of beer bottles… we also have a coffee roaster so we really wanted to [incorporate] that,” said Spiegelshrift.

A list of bottled craft beer and cider hangs on the side of the counter while a chalk menu lists the beers that Rust City Brewery has on tap. All of which are from small independent craft breweries in Ontario. Their beer list is constantly changing but main staples include beers from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company, Great Lakes Brewery, and Nickel Brook Brewing Co.

All of their coffee is organic, fair trade and roasted on site in the large coffee roaster displayed amongst the seating. The beer café also offers a coffee and roasting education program where customers can taste and learn how Rust City Brewery’s coffee is roasted.

While deciding what to drink may be tough, choosing what to eat is made easy by the large variety of organic, vegetarian and gluten free options.

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“All of our food is made in-house… we strive for organic, locally sourced, independent producers as much as we can,“ explained Spiegelshrift. “ Nancy [is in charge] of the food and she is a vegetarian herself, so she is very geared towards that and trying to have options.”

Despite their intentions to begin their own line of beers, Rust City Brewery is not yet brewing at their current location.

The City of Hamilton currently has strict zoning rules preventing brew pubs from opening up in the downtown core. In a press release, Rust City noted that changes to this by-law will be presented to city council for approval in June.

“People are really excited… brewing beer is so revolutionary… It represents this total defiance of standing up for doing what you are. Because [of] that, people get behind the movement and want to do it. [Beer] represents just hanging out and expressing the collective joy of things in the social,” said Spiegelshrift.

Next time you’re downtown, make sure to stop by and try the popular homemade pretzel buns and a glass of the Hop X Cider from Hamilton’s Revel Cider Company.

There are few things more satisfying than an ice cold glass of beer after a long day of work. Beer drinkers can range from those who like a casual glass of beer to commence the weekend to beer aficionados who can name the type of beer from a single sip. No matter what side of the spectrum you land on, all journeys towards loving beer start with a single sip. The Because Beer festival that is coming to Hamilton’s Pier 4 Park on Friday, July 11 and Saturday, 12 aims to provide a means for people to discover some of the good craft beer from over twenty-five breweries that Ontario has to offer.

Because of the volume of beer that will be available at the festival, I sampled a few beers from some of the breweries that will be in attendance in hopes of providing you with a cheat sheet of what I thought were the best beers from each of the breweries sampled.

                           

Collective Arts Brewing

Best beer: Rhyme & Reason : 4.75/5

Collective Arts Brewing merges art with beer as each label uses art from local artists. Each bottle is uniquely designed and artists are able to submit their work to the brewery in hopes that it will end up in a beautiful six pack. The fusion of art and beer gives this beer the advantage but does not overshadow the crisp flavour of the beer. Rhyme and Reason is full of hops and has a citrus and pine flavour to it and is on the lighter side. The aftertaste is complimentary and not overwhelming, making this beer the perfect evening beer.

                           

Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company

Best beer: Lug Tread Lagered Ale : 3/5

Beau’s bottles are slightly smaller than a two-six, coming in at 600ml and have very attractive labels. I was very close to picking The Tom Green Beer simple for the fact that it exists, but one sip of the Lug Tread had me convinced instantly. Lug Tread is flavourful, crisp, and medium bodied, starting with a sweet taste and ending with a pleasantly bitter aftertaste. This beer reminds me of summer, but overall, it’s lacking that bit of specialty that would bring it to the top of micro-brews in the province.

                           

Great Lakes Brewery

Best beer: Thrust! An IPA : 4/5

With an attractive label that features a rocket ship, Thrust! An IPA quickly caught my attention. Often times the packaging doesn’t live up to the content but unlike that guy from the bar, Thrust! An IPA was as smooth as it was attractive. The India Pale Ale is honey-like in colour with a citrus flavour that compliments the slight grapefruit bitterness to it. Filled with citrus hops, but not in a way that’s overwhelming.

                           

Amsterdam Brewery 

Best beer: Amsterdam Natural Blonde Lager : 4.5/5

This common beer is often in local watering holes, but is still one of my favourites. It is crisp, and unique in flavour. This beer is great for all-year drinking but especially lovely in the summer. Amsterdam Blonde is pleasantly fragrant and has a light fruit flavour. This beer is simple yet satisfying and keeps me coming back for more.

                           

Wellington Brewery 

Best beer: Special Pale Ale : 2.5/5

At first sip, the beer tasted like nothing special but overall drinkable. The more I drank, the more bored I got. The amount of hops make the Special Pale Ale overwhelming and not in the good way. It tastes of malt caramel and is slightly creamy, which sounds like it would make a fantastic beer, however, Wellington’s Special Pale Ale left something to be desired. I would drink this beer if looking for something outside of PBR or Bud Light but for anyone who likes smooth, crisp, beer, this wouldn’t be my first, or even fourth choice. I didn’t even finish it, which says a lot.

                           

Grand River Brewing 

Best beer: Curmudgeon IPA : 3/5

This copper coloured beer is flavourful, however, it’s maltiness is a little too much for me. There is a bitter aftertaste that I can see as being pleasant, but is just slightly overwhelming for me. The slight caramel taste and hint of fruit flavours are redeeming factors and kept me sipping for longer than I thought I would. Overall, I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to buy this, but I can see the appeal.

                           

Double Trouble Brewing Co.

Best beer: Prison Break Breakout Pilsner : 3/5

Double Trouble Brewing Co. has cleverly titled beer including, Hops and Robbers and Fire in the Rye but the standout beer for me was the Prison Break Breakout Pilsner. The blue can had entertaining illustrations and the deep but subtle hops give the dark gold beer extra body. Unfortunately, the illustrations on the can is the best part of the beer as it is quite filling making the last half of the beer hard to drink.

                           

I suggest you make your way down to Pier 4 Park on July 11 to make your own conclusions about the best craft beers. For those who are new to the sport of beer drinking, there will also be informative sessions including how to master a perfect pour, how to pair food and beer, and how to tell good beer from bad beer. Additionally, music and food are the perfect compliments to a weekend of great beer, so there will be musical entertainment and over ten Hamilton food trucks at the festival. Entry to the Because Beer festival is forty dollars for the entire weekend or twenty-five dollars per day, which includes a tasting mug and four craft beer samples for one day or ten craft beer samples for the weekend. Drinking beer is an art form, one that I will hope to perfect during Because Beer.

Hacker-Pschore’s Munich Gold

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4/5 stars

This light lager is a crowd pleaser even among non-beer drinkers. It’s apple-y aroma makes it a smooth transition for those of you who have yet to stray from the cider. Smooth and light, you cant’t go wrong with a Hacker.

Bitburger

3/5 stars

This light draft has a mild fizz and goes down relatively easy. We unanimously decided it had a bit of a “stinky foot-ish” scent. But overall, it went down smooth despite the fizz and foot.

 

DAB: Dortmunder Export

2/5 stars

With a dark yellow colour, this beer is reminiscent of an unhealthy urine sample. Its strong smell and grainy texture made it less enjoyable than most. But a weak aftertaste could make a purchase worthwhile.

 

Celebrator

3/5 stars

Aside from having adorable packaging, this beer’s thick texture and molasses-y flavour made it go down like a smooth cappuccino. It smells a bit like soy sauce and leaves a strong aftertaste, but the sweet and unique flavour make it worth a try.

 

Schneider Weisse’s Original

3/5 stars

This wheat beer has a herbal, woodsy taste and a generous bottle size. Its pungent scent and sour aftertaste were obvious drawbacks.

Although a cinnammon taste made it rather delicious.

 

Hofbrau Munchen Original

2/5 stars

With a skunky smell and murky brown colour, this malty brew made for an unpleasant drink.

But on the plus side, it’s toasty flavour and bubbly vibe would make it perfect for a cold autumn night.

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