BBQ & Brews
With warm weather our thoughts tend to drift to cold beer and barbecued food.
Instead of traveling south, head to the Kawarthas where our established and growing craft breweries are being joined by a burgeoning southern-style barbecue scene. So, if you’re a fan of craft beer or authentic barbecue (or both!) it’s time to tour around Peterborough and area to explore our delicious options. Enlist a designated driver, and your appetites, and follow the BBQ and Brews Tour to discover just another reason we say #ThisIsLiving.
Drive along Aylmer Street and you get wafts of sweet maple and applewood smoke; when you see the plumes swirling out behind Dr. J’s – pull in! This downtown business offers up a good variety of authentic house-smoked ribs, Texas-style brisket, Carolina pulled pork, and fabulous wings in a Crown Royal-Maple glaze – we deemed it barbecue with finesse. All the dishes and sides are prepared in-house by Chef Erik, who put almost 20,000 kms traveling the southern states refining his bbq skills prior to helping open the restaurant in early 2014. Mac’n’cheese, baked beans, and burnt-end brisket chili are great sides; non-meat eaters will be impressed by the Smoked Eggplant Lasagna, smoked beet salad and smoked catfish tacos and salmon. We visited late in the afternoon, and the chef was happy to expand their three-meat sampler platter to include a couple extra items for us. Do bring friends so you can order several items to share. Try a pint of their custom-brewed Smoke House Ale on tap or one of the many Ontario craft beers.
Tucked away in the back corner of the Douro arena parking lot, this little gem is a favourite amongst locals and visitors alike. After years spent traveling the south with work, owner/pit master Gavin Sturgeon jumped at the opportunity to do his own thing with food he loves. Prepared from scratch, he sells between 150-200 lbs of food a day, with his most popular item being barbecued brisket. The dry-rub ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender (literally!) and you can ask for sweet bbq sauce or his espresso bbq sauce. The trailer is open Wed-Sat from 11am until the food is gone. Check in with his Twitter account to make sure he’s open and has food left. While there are a couple picnic tables available for seating, South Street’s food is perfect for picking up on the way to the cottage or on the way home for eating in the backyard.
Though it’s a short trip south of Highway 7 to Keene a visit to Muddy’s makes you feel transported to the deep-south. From the maple wood-smoking pits out back, to the blues music and car racing on TV, Muddy’s has it down pat. A wide selection of meats and sides are all sold by the pound. Huge slabs of brisket are sliced in front of you. Smoked sausages, bbq bologna, and pulled pork sandwiches are complimented by tangy coleslaw, creamy potato salad and slow-baked beans. Everything is wrapped in brown butcher paper and weighed before paying at the cash register. They do special additions to the menu so check Facebook or Twitter before you go to see what’s smokin’. There are a few tables, and they are licensed for alcohol, but lots of people get their food to go. Grab extra napkins.
This tucked away location is easily accessed from Hwy 115 and the Parkway and is just south of Landsdowne. The cool softly-lit room is a welcome refuge after a hot day on the road.
A local caterer found at many local festivals and events, Ellie’s can now be found on Fridays and Saturdays at Smithavens Brewery offering up a selection of classic Texas barbecue items. Whether you love pulled pork, brisket, tacos, or quesadillas, this unique partnership offers the best of both worlds by providing an opportunity to pair Ellie’s down-home tastes with your favourite style of beer brewed right there in the building. Don’t skip the mac ‘n’ cheese (with Smithavens Amber Solace cooked right in) or coleslaw on the side!
You may think you’ve been led astray as you travel along the industrial Rye Street but keep going around the bend and you’ll find the craft beer oasis that is Smithavens. Continental Eurpoean-style beers are brewed in small batches on the premises – you can see and smell the action through the viewing windows in the tasting room. A flight of 3 samples is a good way to taste and compare, or you can order a pint of your favourite. For best barbecue matches, try the malty Amber Solace, spicy, fruity Dunkel wheat beer, or the surprisingly dark, yet smooth Schwarzbier. The knowledgeable staff is always happy to guide and educate you, too. There are bottles to purchase to enjoy at home, and if you can’t get to the brewery, some are available at select LCBO stores, Beer Stores and even Peterborough and Lindsay grocery stores. Many local pubs have Smithavens brews on tap, too. The Retail Store is open Monday to Saturday and the Tasting Room is open Thursday to Saturday. (see the website for hours)
380 George Street North, Peterborough Twitter
A veteran in the craft brewing scene, this brewpub on George Street has been serving their own micro brews for 20 years. Brewmaster Aaron O’Neill works his magic with barley, wheat and hops in the basement while customers can enjoy the pub menu and ales on the main floor; in summer months the front windows open for you to enjoy the sights and sounds of downtown. If you time it right, you can even get a tour of the brewery – just ask! The batches are small so this (and sister resto Hot Belly Mama’s) is the only place to enjoy their custom brews such as Red Fife Wheat Ale, the full-bodied Wilde Oat Ale (Jennifer’s favourite) and the ever popular Pickwick’s Best Ale, along with a rich Dubh Stout and seasonals that change throughout the year. The pub menu has handy pairing suggestions and the staff is knowledgeable and enthusiastic to help in your decision making. Olde Stone is open 7 days a week, from 11am Monday to Saturday and noon on Sunday, until midnight or 1am on Friday and Saturday.
Brewing six distinct styles of beer, using all natural ingredients, The Publican House, has firmly staked its claim in the Peterborough craft beer scene. The tasting room and retail store on Charlotte Street is easy to find in the centre of the city and there you can have a taste of what’s on tap, and pick up your supply to go. The Publican House Ale, a German Kölsch style beer, is their flagship brew and is accompanied by Square Nail Pale Ale, a west coast style pale ale, both available in 473 mL cans and 1.9 L growlers, with others available in cans. Go for the Square Nail to pair with your rich barbecue foods, or their House Ale or High Noon for lighter barbecue fare. You can also find their beer at select LCBO stores and The Beer Store locations, as well as on tap and in cans at many local establishments. The retails store is open 7 days a week; 11 am – 11 pm Sunday to Thursday and 10 am to 11 pm on Friday and Saturday.
Thirsty for something else?
If beer isn’t your thing, Kawartha Country Wines has got some barbecue-friendly alternatives for you. Stop in at their pioneer log cabin-turned winery and tasting room on Highway 36 north-west of the hamlet of Buckhorn for sampling, and to do some shopping. Try their Buckhorn Cider – a natural with pulled pork with its crisp apple and a little acidity; the Kawartha Cider has a touch more sweetness so balances the heat of spicy rubs and sauces. Go for their Black Elder wine, which is full-bodied like a red wine, for a beefy brisket, or Raspberry wine with ribs or chicken.
New on the local beverage menu are distilled spirits and Persian Empire Distillery, right here in Peterborough, is leading the way. With a combination of old family recipes and newly created ones, Persian Empire is distilling standards such as vodka, rum and single malt whiskey along with the more exotic arak and pomegranate liquor – all just made for mixing up into creative cocktails to make your barbecue that much more festive.
Visit their retail store from Monday to Friday or on Sunday by appointment: 636 Queensway Court and watch Facebook for news about continuing expansions.
COMING SOON: Belmont Lakes Brewery