A harvest ale is not a defined style or class of beer, but rather a marketing term and common name for many different beers. The tagline generally refers to beers being brewed for Fall harvests. This most commonly refers to the hop harvest but can also be connected with grain harvest, Oktoberfest, or as a general term for Fall seasonal beers.
A few of the local Ottawa breweries have harvest ales on tap this season and we've rounded up a to-drink list for you:
The Land Is Strong, wet-hopped Belgian IPA is the first edition in the Dominion City Terroir Series. Every beer in the series will feature a different regionally-sourced ingredient; in this case, fresh-picked Cascade hops from Lot 17 Hop Yard in Campbellford, ON.
Josh McJannett, one of Dominion City’s brewers tells us that a few weeks back a crew from Dominion City and the Ottawa Beer Club made the trek to the hop yard and drove 80lbs of fresh Cascade cones back to the brewery the same day. "We finished our batch and the results are really exciting. The beer balances banana and clove Belgian character against sticky, malty goodness. It's topped with fresh hop aroma that you can only get from wet hops."
Drink Me Now is a Community Grow Hop brew. The 6.7% ABV, 50 IBU Harvest Ale was brewed with the harvest from 50 hop rhizomes grown in the community and a portion picked at Bristol Hopyard in Pontiac County
Manotick Harvest Ale is a 5.6% abv pale ale made using freshly picked hops grown by Big Rig co-owner and Ottawa Senators defence man, Chris Phillips, on his property in nearby Manotick.
Isidore's Harvest Ale is wet hopped with Cascade hops from Bédard-Brunet hop farm in St. Isidore.
Märzen is the traditional Oktoberfest style of beer. Beau' s first brewed Night•Märzen in 2008 to welcome harvest time in Ontario, Their small gathering to celebrate the harvest that year has grown into their annual Beau’s Oktoberfest. Night•Märzen is the only beer on our list that can be found in bottles at the LCBO along with availability at the brewery.
“‘Wiches Brew”, is a Black IPA (a dark, flavourful hoppy beer reminiscent of a stout or porter), made with ingredients that include fresh hops from a farm in nearby Perth and from brewery owner John vanDyk’s own backyard. It will be available at a food pairing event on October 31, that will include a special menu from ‘Wiches Cauldron, the popular food truck on Carp Road
In Broadhead’s case – it’s not the hops or barley that’s the harvest ingredient in this beer but apples!
Josh Laroche, brewer at Broadhead, says they'll be doing something different this year – an Apple Wheat. It will use real apple cider freshly pressed from Pieter’s Appleyard, out near Belleville. It will also have a slight cinnamon spicing. Should be ready to serve in 2-3 weeks.
According to Mario Bourgeois, Co-owner and Brewmaster, their harvest ale is a pretty special one!
"We obtained hops from what was harvested back in 1920 in Fournier ON! That hop is said to be a bohemian likely Saaz. Up to 1958 they employed well over 2000 people to help during the harvesting season. A retired belgian farmer kept some plants and multiplied them over the years. We were lucky to get 10lbs of dried hops and we are likely the first one to brew again with this hop which once was very popular. Our supplier got an interview with an 87 year old man who was the third generation to harvest this hop, he was employing over 600 people on his farm only… yep all in Fournier ON!"
Most of these harvest beers will only be available at their respective breweries in growlers for a short period of time, so be sure to keep up to date with our twitter and Facebook so that you don't miss your chance to try them!