Over the past few years there has been a huge movement to consume produce and products that are grown and made locally. In an area with such vibrant farmland, it is fairly easy to find most of our food within a hundred miles. But what about drinks? That’s where Northwinds comes in.
Northwinds brewery is one of those wonderful little niches where you walk in and can’t help but feel at home. The welcoming atmosphere, paired with its friendly staff and cheerful crowd make it a comfortable and welcoming place to dine. The company originally launched in 2013 as a contract brew house, but it quickly grew into the flourishing restaurant, bar, and bottle shop that it is today. Their commitment to showcasing Ontario’s food and drink has earned the restaurant a “Feast On” certification, and a wooden spoon that hangs proudly outside of their kitchen window.
Despite this growth, they still humbly craft all of their Northwinds brews just metres from where you can enjoy them at the bar. The large glass wall behind their bar area boasts an impressive view of the brewery at the back of the restaurant. This is where the magical brewing process takes place; here’s how it works:
First the grains are milled so that the starchy centre of the barley is exposed. The crushed grains are then transferred to a vessel known as a “mash turn” where they are combined with hot water. The temperature of the mixture at this point is the determinant in the sweetness or dryness of the final brew. After the mixture is done in the mash turn, the spent grain is sifted out and the remaining liquid, (known as the wert) is poured into a kettle. One transferred is boiled until it is time to add the hops. When the hops have been added and the mixture cooled, the liquid is moved into a fermentation vessel where the yeast is inserted. As the yeast eats the sugar, it expellees carbon dioxide and alcohol into the brew. Following this, the blend is transferred to what is known as the “brite tank” so that the yeast can ‘condition’ the beer by consuming any unwanted flavours that are left over from the fermentation process. After this, the beer has been fully conditioned and is ready to be transferred into bottles, kegs, and direct draws to the Northwinds bar.
The beer is then displayed in the bottle shop at the front of the restaurant, where it is available for purchase by locavores and beer connoisseurs alike. Northwinds fans can also grab a t-shirt with their favourite drink label on it or go big and fill up a reusable growler to take home. After all, there is nothing more locally sourced than buying beer less than fifty feet from where it was brewed, bottled, and labelled right in the heart of Collingwood Ontario.