Thursday, August 9, 2012

Locaholic: Flying Monkeys adds to the flavour of downtown

Recently I presented the term “locaholic” for those who prefer beverages produced in the local community, especially for pairing with local food. Barrie locaholics are blessed to have Barrie’s long beer-making history continue at the Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery.
Rooted right downtown, this outfit launched in 2004, just as the Molson beer plant was closing down, and was originally named after Robert Simpson, Barrie’s first mayor, a successful 19th-century brewer. The craft brewery scene has grown steadily since then, and as it became too crowded with beers named after long-dead men, The Flying Monkeys were released. This new moniker not only attracts more interest, it also better reflects the creative and quirky spirit of their brew line.
Barrie, of course, has a storied beer-making history, stretching back to the 9-Mile Portage and related military establishments. Back then, beer was usually made where it was consumed, instead of being shipped across the country or around the world as is common today. Beer made to ship isn’t like the brews of old; chemical preservatives and additives stray far from the traditional 4-ingredient recipes.
In contrast, craft beers are true to tradition and tend to leave out chemicals or preservatives, but they certainly don’t lack for flavour. Canadian beer always had a good reputation; now with artisan brewers stepping up to the plate, it’s getting even better. And the rise of craft beers means you can once again enjoy the local brew in your local pub – if they’ll stock it. Sadly, it’s often a challenge to find Flying Monkeys in Barrie establishments. You can help change that, by asking for it each time you visit.
Luckily, Flying Monkeys isn’t limited to supplying locals. They recently doubled their production capacity and have reached significant sales across the province, with interest now starting to come from outside Ontario. Meanwhile, their main-street glass-front (and back) production facility linking Dunlop Street with Kempenfelt Bay is a great tourist draw, especially on Fridays.
The Flying Monkeys always try to show respect for our community and our environment. Sensitive to being on the lake, they take care what goes down their drains. They are very efficient in water use, even filtering out and re-using their cleaning chemicals. They are even experimenting with ways to recycle the CO2 produced in fermentation to use for carbonation instead of just venting it as is common practice.
I’ve always enjoyed their flagship Flying Monkeys Amber Ale (formerly Robert Simpson Confederation Ale), and found their preservative-free Antigravity the only light beer worth drinking. For the palate that likes a challenge, they feature several “hoppy” flavours, and I am looking forward to the introduction this month of Stereovision, an American kristall wheat beer. Perhaps you’ll join me in a pint?
Written for my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner.
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of the Ontario School of Economic Science and Earthsharing Canada.

1 comment:

  1. Barrie is truly blessed to have such an innovative and community-minded brewery in its presence. The downtown location for the brewery is an inspiration for all of us. If you haven't checked out downtown Barrie recently, please do. Returning to the downtown one evening after a decades-long absence, I could not believe how vibrant and exciting it was, and Flying Monkeys has certainly played a part in its resurgence.

    I'll not be waiting another 10 years to go back. And I'd love to join you for a pint of Stereovision in the near future, Erich!