No Strange Brew Here, Just A Great Pil!
By Judy Atchison & Alex Good
(Stratford Beacon Herald, August 12, 2004)
Breweries are nothing new in Stratford. Surprised? According to the Stratford-Perth Archives, the oldest and longest-lived brewery in Stratford was known in later years as Perth Brewery, located at St. Patrick and Birmingham Streets. The building is still there - the main floor is an auto supply store, with apartments upstairs. The brewery was originally owned by J.P. Vivian who established it on Erie Street around 1846. It went through a few changes of ownership before ending up in the hands of the Devlin family who owned it for about 50 years. With the onset of prohibition, the brewery was closed down.
The second major brewery in Stratford was located at 423-427 Erie Street and was owned by the Hergott Brothers in 1888. It was purchased by the Louis Kuntz Estate (Kuntz Brewery Co. Ltd.) in 1896. With prohibition, Kuntz Brewery began making ginger beers until 1927, when the building re-opened as the first Brewer's Retail agency in Stratford. In 1952, the building was sold to cheese maker Frank Leslie, who for many years operated the Leslie Cheese House in the building. That building was torn down in the 1990's, and The House of Blessing stands there today.
A third brewery existed briefly in one of the stores in the old city hall in 1863 for a few years. It was run by Charles Dean for the Hamilton Spring Brewery. He had a cellar below his store, which was one of four stores on the main floor of the old city hall building (which was built in 1857 and destroyed by fire in 1897).
Following on the heels of Stratford's rich brewing history is the newly opened Stratford Brewing Company, located at 114 Erie Street [the former Kalbfleisch building]. The brewery is proudly owned and operated by Stratford native, Joseph Tuer.
From what we have tasted, the Stratford Brewing Company is set to become a significant force in the local bar and restaurant scene.
Their signature beer, the Stratford Pilsner, will not need to rely on local pride alone for very long; it is an impressive effort worthy of your attention. The Stratford Pilsner is brewed in the traditional Czech style, using the finest Canadian malted barley and Czech Saaz hops.
Not only is the beer all-natural and unpasteurized, it tastes great too! The rich golden colour is a promise of things to come; served ice cold, look for bright flavours of apricot, spice, lemon, and floral undertones. It is certainly crisp enough to enjoy on its own, ideally on a shady uptown patio, but it also has enough substance and weight to hold its own against food, especially the kind of local fare we have become accustomed to - high quality, fresh ingredients.
Joe's decision to focus on one signature beer is not only based on their personal preference for pilsner, but also because they noticed a definite lack of quality pilsners in the Ontario microbrewing industry. Craft-brewing at a local level also allows them to offer a high-quality imported-style of beer at an affordable price.