Beers are numbered at The Exchange as a nod to the brewery building’s roots as Niagara’s first telephone exchange, and to some exceptional Belgian Abbey breweries where the monks opted for the simplicity of a numbering system.
This is a slick operation. It’s a proper “grown-up” establishment sans the rustic hipster theme. Modern minimalist shades of white and black, and curved bars give the interior sophistication.
Two eight-tap bars (one downstairs and one upstairs) at the brewery feature year-round brews alongside limited-release and seasonal offerings. Upstairs is a smaller bar area, perfect for private events, that leads out onto a patio, which I’ll be sure to enjoy in the summer months.
Almost two years ago, when The Exchange opened they were some of the first in the Region to be barrel-aging their beer.
Today, they are about to host their second birthday event, and they have plenty to celebrate. After submitting six of their beers to the New York International Beer Competition in 2017, they took home three golds for their Golden Ale, Foreign Exchange Stout, and Peppercorn Rye Saison, as well as a bronze for their Amber Ale, and the prestigious prize of Canadian Brewery of the Year.
My Chief Researcher tried a flight of The Exchange’s winning brews. The Amber Ale is medium bodied with lightly roasted flavours of crystal malt, carmel, and toffee; the Peppercorn Rye Saison is brewed with whole peppercorns and rye malt. It has great depth of spicy flavours (without being spicy on the palate) and earthy hops; the Exchange’s White IPA has classic wit spices of orange peel, coriander, and fruity hops; and their Foreign Exchange Stout, made using fruity UK pilgrim hops, is big and complex with hints of molasses and coffee.
Not that I can compare it to “real” beer after being gluten free for over a decade, but The Exchange’s Gluten Free Saison is by far the best gluten free beer I have tasted. Brewed with buck wheat and sorghum, it is nutty and earthy with a hint of sweetness. Chief Researcher agreed that it was not out of place amongst his flight of fine brews.
The Exchange doesn’t have an extensive menu of their own, though they do offer charcuterie boards, tasting plates and intriguing beer pairings like Mac & Cheese flavoured popcorn. However, Wednesday evenings you can order-in pizza from Pieza Pizzeria and Sundays there is fresh sushi prepared on site by Danny’s Sushi Catering. Also, once a month they have a Culinary Pop-up event. In January it will be catered by Your Farm Gate’s talented chef Shawn Murphy.
There are also fun events you should check out on their website like trivia, paint night, yoga and brews, brewery tours, and live music. Plus, on Thirsty Thursdays at The Exchange all tap beers are $4 after 4pm.
This is a true beer connoisseur’s brewery. The focus is tasting their excellent beer, and everything else, like the chic interior and fun events, is a bonus.
Location 7 Queen St, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0