Bearface on beer: Grand River Brewing

Jon Johnson

Doors Open is one of my favourite annual events. Properties all across the region participate, allowing the public to tour places they might not normally get to see inside. This year Cambridge’s Grand River Brewing (GRB) is getting in on the fun, and will be one of the properties open for visitors and tours all day on September 19. On a recent Wednesday afternoon, some of TCE crew and I stopped by GRB for a preview of what you’ll experience if you stop by that day. I recommend that you do.


Located in the historic Galt Knife Factory building, the worn wood beams, remnants of old manufacturing equipment, and the gleam of the brew kettles make for a pretty scene. But it’s the love of brewing that came across during our visit that makes it most worth your time. As sales man- ager Robert Donaldson mentioned, “this place has grown over the years from quality of the beer and passion of the staff,” with virtually no advertising budget. They recently expanded their brew house, and are planning to do so again, so the passion is paying off.


Our tour guide, Zach, was a real fount of information, from walking us through the full brewing process, to entertaining us with beer trivia, and even expounding life philosophies. His informative, digressive talk was the kind that only comes from someone who is talking about something that they are passionate about.


After our tour, our group sat down to sample the five beers the brewery had on offer at the time. Samples are available at the bar for $1. I think it’s safe to say that there was something there that satisfied each of our varying tastes, from this beer enthusiast, to a person who isn’t really into beer much at all, and everyone in between. Part of their mandate is full flavoured beers with less than five per cent alcohol. As a guy whose favourites tend toward the eight per cent and higher alcohol range, I have to say that the 3.5 per cent Mill Race Mild was surprisingly tasty. My favourite GRB beer, their Russian Gun Imperial Stout, the rouge of the bunch at 8 per cent, sadly wasn’t on tap that day as it’s a seasonal fall/ winter beer, but it should be soon.


There’s a lot of passion and a lot of beer in the old Galt Knife building in Cambridge, and it’s worth stopping by during Doors Open on September 19. Grand River Brewing is offering behind-the-scenes tours all day at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.


Jon is a freelance graphic designer, small-time screenprinter, part-time homebrewer, and (Ontario) Craft Beer enthusiast.