At this point in my craft beer hobby life I've been fortunate enough to visit breweries large and small and go on many different tours. Some were led by proud owners and included a thorough tour of the inner workings and history of the brewery; others were led by employees and followed a predetermined path with videos, signs and yawn inducing brewing descriptions.
Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery is not one of those boring breweries, but you could have guessed that from the label.
Flying Monkeys originally opened its doors in 2005 on historic Dunlop Street in Barrie, Ontario as The Robert Simpson Brewing Company. The name paid homage to Barrie's first mayor who was a brewer long before he became a politician. In 2009 they changed their name and branding because, in their own words, "being named for a dead white guy just isn't very exciting." In a few years they've added 5 beers to their year round production list as well as several one offs that appear at the brewery and festivals. Flying Monkeys is not afraid of experimenting and Ontario beer drinkers are loving it - I wonder what Robert Simpson would think?
On my arrival to the Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery I was greeted by five samples from their current line up - Antigravity Light Ale, Flying Monkeys Amber Ale, Hoptical Illusion Almost Pale Ale, Smashbomb Atomic IPA and Netherworld Cascadian Dark Ale. My favorites were the hoppy Smashbomb, the rich coffee, hop combination of Netherworld and the light but crisp Antigravity (a perfect post-soccer beer).
The tour is free as are samples but you are encouraged to buy a pint glass so they can give you even more free beer to enjoy while on the tour. The guide takes you through the pilot system (tucked in the corner) where they conduct their experiments and then through the larger equipment where the main brews are created. The brewhouse feels cramped and that's because they've had to bring in more and more equipment into the restored heritage building to keep up with production. Packaging is on the lower level and although there is some automation a large portion of kegging and bottling is done by hand which is the same for most small craft breweries - it always amazes me.
After learning the ins and outs of bottling (I think my guide could dismantle and assemble the machine blindfolded) we went back upstairs to the store. I bought a few cases of fresh beer to take back to Ottawa and tried one last sample for the road - strawberry kiwi.
Flying Monkeys you have a heck of a great brewery tour but I have one complaint. Why don't you have growler fills? I would have loved to fill a growler or two with that strawberry kiwi and would gladly return to Barrie to get refills of your experiments!
Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery
107 Dunlop Street East
Barrie, ON L4M 1A6