The story of Highlander Brew Co. begins in 2009 with the creation of their first brew, a traditional Scottish Ale that remains one of their most popular offerings today. Their products are made with fresh, local water and grains that are milled onsite to ensure freshness. They pride themselves on attention to detail during their small-batch brewing process which, paired with expert selection of the finest ingredients, gives all of their beers a distinctive taste and smooth finish. And without preservatives or additives, you can be sure that the brews you drink from Highlander haven’t long left the brewery.
Located in the small town of South River, part of the Almaguin Highlands just north of Muskoka, Highlander is one of the most northerly craft breweries in Ontario. That small-town vibe creates a unique atmosphere, one that you’ll soon recognize inside the walls of their expanded facility, which opened its doors in 2016. They’re not just a brewery, but also a gathering place for musicians, artists, locals and visitors alike. They’ve been a welcome addition to the region and to the craft beer community, and don’t take themselves too seriously either. Case in point? This nod from Craft Brewing Business in 2016 where they made the list of best craft beer marketing campaigns that year. How did they do it? With simple videos posted to their Twitter feed of lead brewer Pat rocking out while he works. It’s beer right? It’s supposed to be fun!
New Beer Release & Winter Seasonals
Hot off the bottling line at Highlander is their new Amable du Fond Marzen Lager. Amable du Fond River – where this brew gets its moniker – is named after an Indigenous hunter and trapper who lived in the South River area in the mid 19th century. The same river once used to transport logs downstream to the Mattawa River is today a common canoe route for trippers entering Algonquin Park from the west side. This style of lager, typically brewed with more hops, is pale in colour and has an easy drinkability. It offers a medium to full body with a slight caramel flavour and a dry finish.
Wee Heavy, Highlander’s only 90-minute boil, has notes of caramel and hints of oak. It’s malt forward, balanced and offers a low hop approach-ability for slow, smooth sipping. Wee Heavy features all UK hops and an Edinburgh yeast strain – a true Brit! Pair a Wee Heavy with game meat, strong cheese and bread.
If a dark brew is what you’re after, try a Blacksmith Smoked Porter. The complexity of their English smoked porter style beer comes from the careful selection of its dark malts. The smooth texture and long finish – without the usual bitter aftertaste of a dark – make this a symphony of coffee, caramel and chocolate flavours that isn’t rich or overpowering. The creamy, tan head right out of the bottle is reminiscent of a properly poured draft beer.
Highlander offers a unique space right in their brewhouse and hosts a number of exciting events year round. Their calendar features weekly recurring fitness programming like Yoga in the Brewhouse on Tuesdays from 5-6pm and Zumba in the Brewhouse on Sundays from 6:30-7:30pm, as well as a lineup of live music, art nights, community dinner series evenings and more. Take part in a Belly Dancing Class on January 8th or come out for Douglas McLean Live on January 26th. As more events are booked, you can check out the details on their website or posted on their Facebook page here.
Cooking with Highlander
Cooking with beer is easily accomplished with the helpful and eclectic Highlander Cookbook. First printed in 2017, this book is a collaborative effort between local chefs, cooks and citizens. When the idea first started brewing to produce a cookbook, a call was put out for recipe submissions online with the promise of an invitation to a dinner celebration for those whose recipes were chosen. A testament to the community and their pride in this local landmark, recipes rolled in (did they ever!).
Its pages are filled with recipes for appetizers, entrees and desserts and the accompanying glossy images are enough to make your mouth water right onto the paper. Look for things like Scottish Ale Foccacia, Highlander Seafood Ceviche, Rye Road Rice, Braised Blacksmith Lamb Shanks, and Smoked Porter Sticky Pudding.
The Highlander Cookbook is available to purchased online from their website, or can be found on the shelves of the Highlander Taproom along with other brewery merchandise and locally made goods too.