Muskoka Breweries: Best Craft Beer in Ontario Cottage Country

Are you an Ontario craft beer fan looking to sip through the best Muskoka breweries?

Do you live in Muskoka and find yourself looking for a new local to meet other craft beer aficionado’s? Or do you regularly visit cottage country and need a new craft beer to enjoy on the dock?

Our comprehensive guide to the craft beer scene in Muskoka features detailed information on all five of breweries in the region: Muskoka Brewery, Lake of Bays Brewing, Sawdust City Brewing, Clear Lake Brewing and Katalyst Brewing.

All of the Muskoka breweries offer visitors access to a retail store, brewery tours and taproom. Clear Lake Brewing is the only brewery in Muskoka offering a restaurant and dining room.

Save this story to Pinterest so you can look at it later!

Best Muskoka Breweries

Dobbernationloves had the opportunity to chat with Todd Lewin, President of Muskoka Brewery, about the region’s unique brewing history.

So what were some of the first Muskoka breweries? Lewin explains, “Muskoka Brewery was the first. Back in the late 1990’s there was a Molson Brewery in Barrie and Northern Brewery up in Sudbury but nothing in between. There were a ton of passionate beer drinkers in the Muskoka region and the founders Gary McMullen and Kirk Evans wanted to create beers that better represented the unique Muskoka region.”

So when Muskoka Brewery first opened, what did the local beer industry look like in Ontario cottage country? Lewin adds, “Muskoka Brewery kicked open the doors in June 1996 with one brand, our flagship Muskoka Cream Ale. At that time most of the beers in the region were lighter lagers produced by the big three breweries. There was nothing truly local and Muskoka Brewery became the first brewery to start producing more flavour forward ales that quickly starting to gain a fan base in the community. Today, there are several breweries that have opened up in the Muskoka region but for 14 years Muskoka Brewery was the only one leading the charge.”

Lewin goes on to describe Muskoka’s more recent craft beer boom, “Lake of Bays Brewing opened in 2010 and then others like Sawdust City soon followed. The Muskoka region is all about the great outdoors and easygoing, relaxing times with friends and family. The Muskoka breweries have a close kinship and work collectively to help grow the craft beer business in the area.  The vibe here is more laid back than in the big cities and think many of the beer styles and tap rooms reflect this ‘cottage country’ feeling. We are surrounded by lakes, rivers and trees and protecting these resources is important to all that brew here and call Muskoka home.”

So what trends should craft beer fans expect to see in Muskoka? Lewin predicts, “As more and more people come North to the Muskoka region I see continued growth for breweries in the area.  Beer tourism is growing but the breweries need to start thinking outside of just beer to partner with the local wineries, cideries and distilleries on true ‘craft’ tourism in the area. Along with other areas like Niagara or Prince Edward County, the Muskoka region has the potential to really lead on this front. Muskoka has so much to offer year round, there is an opportunity to really pair that with great beer experiences.”

Muskoka Beer Festivals

Plan a visit to Muskoka to attend a fun Ontario craft beer festival.

  • Beerhurst at Deerhurst Craft Beer Festival: Muskoka’s newest craft beer festival launches in March, 2020 and features plenty of Ontario craft beer and live music.
  • Muskoka 2/4 Craft Beer Festival: takes place every May 24 long weekend at River Mill Park in downtown Huntsville. The festival features popular Ontario craft breweries and food by popular local Muskoka restaurants.
  • Session Muskoka Taps Craft Beer Festival: Muskoka’s best summer beer festival takes place each August in Annie Williams Park in Bracebridge. Guests try over 100 different beers, local food and live entertainment.

Muskoka Hotels

Stay at one of these local hotels on a Muskoka craft beer holiday.

Enjoy a craft beer tasting and tour at Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge.
Enjoy a craft beer tasting and tour at Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge.

Muskoka Brewery

1964 Muskoka Beach Road, Bracebridge, 705-646-1266

Muskoka Brewery is the most famous craft brewery in Muskoka. The popular craft brewery in Bracebridge houses a state-of-the-art production facility, retail shop, tap room, and hosts daily tours.

Gary McMullen and Kirk Evans started building their craft beer dream in 1995, opening the doors of the original Muskoka Brewery in June 1996. Today, Muskoka Brewery is owned and operated by Todd Lewin and Bob MacDonald. The duo have transformed a small craft brewery (8,000 sq ft) to a large production facility (40,000 sq ft).

Muskoka Brewery President, Todd Lewin describes the company’s growth since he began with the company in 2010, “We’ve been fortunate to achieve some good growth over the past eight years. In terms of beer volume, we’re about six times as big as when I got here and have also ventured into the distilling business. In the same time frame, our team has grown to meet this demand, adding 100 team members to expand our operations and market reach.”

Lewin adds, “Based on the support from both locals and tourists, our taproom and patio have more than doubled in size since 2017. The patio has really enhanced that outdoor Muskoka experience in the warmer months. In 2019, we’re going to be adding an events space to accommodate bigger groups and dial up events like our Venture Fest, Winter Village and Muskoka Hullabaloo.”

Alongside its award-winning craft beers, Muskoka Brewery has recently launched a distillation program, which produces one of Ontario’s most celebrated dry gins.

Muskoka Brewery’s Signature Craft Beers

  • Cream Ale: rich amber colour and inviting floral tones, this laid-back, English pub-style ale is smooth and easy-going. With a Cascade hoppiness and full body of flavour, this gold-medal winning Canadian Cream Ale is the quintessential taste of cottage country.
  • Craft Lager: crisp and effervescent with a slight grain character and malt sweetness. Haze and sediment in the brew is a result of a pure and unfiltered brewing process.
  • Detour ISA: one of Ontario’s first India Session Ales pours a bright gold and offers tropical aromas such as pineapple and guava.
  • Ebb & Flow: this low alcohol beer pours a pale straw colour and offers aromas bursting with grapefruit, lime and tropical fruit.
  • Mad Tom IPA: pours a burnt orange colour and offers aromas of grapefruit, orange, and pine.
  • Twice as Mad: an aggressively twice dry-hopped Imperial Pale Ale.
  • Shinnicked Stout: a rich and velvety beer infused with Muskoka Roastery’s Signature Lumberjack coffee.
Sawdust City serves craft beer in Gravenhurst.
Sawdust City serves craft beer in Gravenhurst.

Sawdust City Brewing

397 Muskoka Rd N, Gravenhurst, 705-681-1100

Sawdust City Brewing Company is dedicated to the art and science of creating exceptional craft beers. Brewmaster Sam Corbeil and his talented team create award-winning beers that expand the borders of traditional flavour profiles from their 20,000 sq ft facility on the main street of Gravenhurst.

The Canadian-made brewhouse includes a canning line, barrel-aging room, large retail store and Tap Room where live music entertains sud-sloshers every Friday and Saturday night. The Tap Room features a 24-foot live-edge bar milled from a 100-year-old naturally felled pine tree, honouring the long history of logging in Muskoka. Hop up on a bar stool here and you’ll find 12 draught lines and friendly bartender keen on walking you through a tutored tasting.

In addition to Sawdust City Brewing’s six year-round core brands, they brew exceptional seasonal offerings, exciting limited batch brews, barrel-aged and experimental beers.

Sawdust City Brewing’s Signature Craft Beers

  • Lone Pine, West Coast IPA: aggressively hopped and bursting with flavours of pine and citrus. Balanced with a blend of 4 different malts.
  • Gateway Kolsch, Lagered Ale: paying homage to the lagered ales of Cologne, Germany, this Kölsch style ale is aged a little longer, letting all the flavours mellow.
  • Skinny Dippin’, Oatmeal Stout: a full flavoured, velvety smooth, oatmeal stout. Black as oil and crammed to brim with lusciously decadent flavours of chocolate and roasted malts. 
  • Ol’Woody Alt, Lagered Amber Ale: a lagered ale, fashioned after the beers from the Dusseldorf, Germany.
  • Golden Beach, Hazy Pale Ale: loaded with juicy citrus hop flavours, aromas of tropical fruit and freshly cut grass.
  • Litle Norway, Pale Lager: in collaboration with Norway’s Arendals Bryggeri, Sawdust City Brewing brewed a traditional European lager with North American craft beer sensibilities.
Lake of Bays Brewing pours craft beer on an outdoor patio in Baysville.
Lake of Bays Brewing pours craft beer on an outdoor patio in Baysville.

Lake of Bays Brewing

2681 Muskoka District Road 117, Baysville, 705-767-2313

Lake of Bays Brewing is located in Baysville, Ontario in the heart of Muskoka’s scenic cottage country. The craft brewery offers guests a retail store, tap room, bottle shop, outdoor patio and tours.

Step through the main doors and you’ll find a retail store, tap room and bottle shop all in one space. The retail store at Lake of Bays Brewing sells branded t-shirts, sweaters, glassware, magnets and bottle openers. The actual brewery is fairly small – less than 4,000 square feet with an off-site warehouse for storage.

Directly across from the gift shop shelves you’ll find a craft beer bar, serving fresh beer on tap. For those looking to pop by the brewery before enjoying a cottage holiday, two large fridges are stacked with ice-cold tall cans. Beer lovers can also order growlers, filled with your choice of fresh beer, straight from the tap. Kegs are also available for purchase and need to be pre-ordered 2 weeks in advance.

Lake of Bays Brewing produces a year-round core range as well as a rotation of seasonal beers. Other Lake of Bays Brewing craft beers that have been produced in the past include Pumpkin Ale, Pina Grande Wheat Ale, The West Wind Black IPA, A Doppel Do Ya Weizen, Nightwatcher Oatmeal Stout, Oxtongue IPA and Broken Axe APA.

Lake of Bays Brewing also operates a brewpub in Huntsville and will be opening a Barrelhouse in Bracebridge in the Spring of 2020.

Lake of Bays Brewing’s Signature Craft Beers

  • Lift Lock, Light Lager: light notes of cut grass on the nose. A fresh bite of carbonation to start, followed by a semi-sweet honey with cereal notes. A medium dry body quenches your thirst with an overall clean and gentle citrus note.
  • Starboard, New England IPA: orange, grapefruit, and a hint of strawberry round out this sweet yet balanced IPA. Oats allow for a smooth and mellow mouthfeel.
  • Spark House, Red Ale: draws its deep mahogany hue and distinctive taste from a unique blend of domestic and European hops and dark-roasted specialty malts. An Ontario craft beer favourite, Spark House is Lake of Bays Brewing’s most popular beer.
  • Switchback, Pilsner: aromatics are of fresh-cut hay with slight floral notes and graininess that is the hallmark of a traditional German-style pilsner.
  • Paddle ON, Session IPA: produced in partnership with Algonquin Outfitters by brewer Andrew Walsh. It features one kilo of lemon zest per batch, Paddle On offers a tart twist on this dry session ale.
Clear Lake Brewing near Port Carling is the only brewery in Muskoka with a restaurant.
Clear Lake Brewing near Port Carling is the only brewery in Muskoka with a restaurant.

Clear Lake Brewing

4651 Southwood Rd, Torrance, 705-762-0234

Clear Lake Brewing first opened its doors in August, 2017 near Bala and Port Carling in Muskoka.

Founders Greg Knight, Rob Wilson and Kit Redding were inspired to launch Clear Lake Brewing because they wanted to open a new business in the small village of Torrance.

Step inside the Muskoka brewpub and you’ll find 8 taps at the bar. Seven pour Clear Lake Brewing’s in-house brands with the other offering featuring a rotating guest brewery or cider.

Rob Wilson explains Clear Lake Brewing’s craft beer production, “We produce all of our core brands year round. Our Cranberry Radler is most popular in summer, but is still available year round. Our number one beer is our Session Ale, we also offer an IPA, Honey Cream, Porter, Pilsner and Amber Ale.”

After sipping through a flight of fresh Muskoka craft beer wag your finger down Chef Jacob Mussen’s menu. Wilson explains the Clear Lake Brewing food philosophy, “We make good pub food that pairs well with our beers. Our craft beer is a key ingredient in a few of our dishes. We also work closely with two local businesses: Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh make up our cran radler beer and Don’s Bakery in Bala produces our breads, buns and desserts.”

Popular dishes at Clear Lake Brewing’s restaurant include Grilled Reuben Panini, Pulled Pork Sammy, Chicken Caesar Wrap, and a signature burger.

Clear Lake Brewing’s retail shop offers hoodies, t-shirts, hats, glassware as well as growlers and kegs. You’ll also find a fridge filled with canned beer to take back to the dock to share with family and friends.

Clear Lake Brewing’s Signature Craft Beers

  • Cran Radler: subtle tartness of locally-sourced  cranberries complimenting a hint of blood orange.
  • Session Ale: a lower alcohol beer that balances malt and hop flavours for a clean finish.
  • American IPA: Munich-style balance of malt, with El Dorado hops imparting bold tropical fruit flavours of pineapple and mango. On the nose, hints of pear, watermelon and stone fruits.

You May Also Enjoy Reading…

Muskoka Breweries: Katalyst Brewing in Bracebridge is Muskoka's newest craft brewery.
Muskoka Breweries: Katalyst Brewing in Bracebridge is Muskoka’s newest craft brewery.

Katalyst Brewing

13 Taylor Road Unit D in Bracebridge, 705-394-5043

Katalyst Brewing is Muskoka’s newest craft brewery. It’s located in the historic Granary Building in downtown Bracebridge, formerly the home of Muskoka Brewing from 1994 to 2012.

Katalyst Brewing was initially started in 2016 by husband and wife team, Mark and Krystal Verok. The duo originally launched the Ontario beer brand as a contract brewery based in Toronto. Krystal initially got Mark interested in beer making when they first started dating, acting as the, “c(k)atalyst for his venture into the brewing world.”

So what inspired Krystal and Mark to open a craft brewery in Muskoka? “We looked in Toronto and couldn’t find the right building that had what we were looking for so we started looking outside the city. After a bit of a search we found the building in Bracebridge we are in now and liked the location and history. We also spent a lot of time in Muskoka over the years and decided it would be a great place to live full time,” said Mark.

Katalyst Brewing opened its doors in Bracebridge in December, 2019. Skip inside the craft brewery and you’ll find ten taps at the bar, as well as juice boxes, kombucha, cold-brew coffee and other non-alcoholic options.

So what beer styles should you expect at Katalyst Brewing? Co-owner Mark Verok says, “Most of the beers will be rotating, and we plan on releasing a new beer every two weeks.” He has a penchant for smokey porters to pilsners and experimenting with sour and barrel aged beers.

The Granary Building is shared with several other local businesses in Bracebridge including Sully’s Muskoka. Katalyst Brewing occupies 2,500 of the buildings 20,000 square feet. Ask to get a tour of the production area and you’ll find a 10hl system featuring 6 fermenters.

The brewery in Bracebridge also offers a retail shop offering a branded merchandise and swag including hats, toques, sweaters, t-shirts and glassware. Cottagers and local Muskoka craft beer lovers can also purchase 64oz growlers and kegs.

Review Our Travel Checklist When Planning Your Next Adventure! 

Find the best flights on Skyscanner

Never travel without insurance! We suggest World Nomads comprehensive coverage as it includes over 250 adventure activities such as scuba diving, bungee jumping and surfing.

If you’re planning a road trip make sure to compare the best local car rental options.

Looking to book a tour or VIP experience on holiday? Book the best local tours on Viator.

Be sure to check your travel destinations electrical plug requirements in advance. If you travel often be sure to purchase a multi-region adaptor.

Whether you’re marching through a city or exploring a rugged rural landscape, it’s important to ensure you’re traveling with comfortable footwear. We suggest these comfortable walking shoes for urban adventures or these waterproof hiking boots when embarking on a hike holiday.

Capture your holiday on a quality camera. We suggest the pocket-sized Canon Powershot G7 or professional SLR we shoot with Canon EOS 6D.

Some of the links in this story use affiliate links. This means that if you book through our site, Dobbernationloves will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps us to produce comprehensive content. 

Tags: , , ,

Leave a reply

Receive Updates When New Stories Are Posted