Brewery openings have become a fairly regular occurrence in Ottawa. This year, we’ve ballooned to over 30 breweries in the city, the vast majority of which have opened in the last two years. So why am I devoting my first post to the opening of Tooth and Nail Brewing Co. two weeks ago?
Tooth And Nail Brewing Co. is the first brewery I’ve personally been excited about in a long time, and it lived up to my expectations. Matt Tweedy, the owner/brewmaster is a well traveled brewer, having experience in both home experimentation and in production brewing. He has worked in many breweries, from Beau’s in Vankleek Hill and King Brewery just north of Toronto, to a guest spot at Cantillon in Belgium.
The long and short of it is, he’s been training for YEARS to gain the proficiency to open a brewery he could call his own.
He’s there. With wife and partner Dayna – former owner and manager of Beer Bistro in Toronto – at his side and managing the front of house, Tooth And Nail is poised to make a big splash in the Ottawa beer scene.
The interior of the bar is clean and rustic, while still stepping a toe into the modern world. A road map of the city is painted along one entire side of the seating area – immediately opposite the bar – while the taps are mounted in minimalist fashion on simple black switch handles atop large stainless counters. The “kitchen” consists of a small prep fridge and a meat slicer, and each charcuterie plate is designed to be paired with a specific beer.
At the back end of the restaurant, you can step right up to large windows with the brewing space immediately behind. A gorgeous 15 barrel system beckons from beyond. Seating is designed in communal fashion, with few small tables and many large tables designed for friend making.
Now to the beer!
Matt is dedicated to brewing classic styles with slight twists to make them truly unique. While decidedly skeptical about “culinary beers,” he is more than happy to brew outside the parameters of tradition.
My first ever pint of Tooth And Nail beer was the Stamina, a Belgian “session” ale at 5.2%. It pours a brilliant yellow/gold, with a big billowy white foam cap on it that persists well down the glass. Aromas are very true to the Belgian styles with some banana, pepper and clove, and mild hints of citrus tending towards lemon. On the palate, carbonation is crisp and the banana-like flavours of Belgian yeast are fairly subdued, with light bready malt character up front, and a lemon/orange citrus, light grassy bitterness and coriander that bites only slightly into the finish.
Tenacity Pale Ale was also a treat, with bright orange, pineapple and biscuity/caramel tones showing on the nose. Flavour is medium caramel malt with resinous and grapefruit/orange fruity notes. With only slight bitterness showing on the back end, this is a juicy, fruity pale ale full of fun for the whole family!
The one beer I wasn’t particularly a fan of was the collaboration with Beau’s Brewery. While the early collaboration speaks volumes about their respect for their former brewer, I can’t say that Housewarmer made me feel particularly welcome. In addition to barley, Housewarmer was brewed with rye and wheat. While this did give a very complex malt flavour, it all seemed to be a bit muddled with orange pith and mild spicy notes, without a clear personality or direction to it.
I returned a few days later for the release of TnN’s “Rabble Rouser” IPA (don’t get it confused with Sam Adam’s’ Rebel Rouser). A fairly big beer at 6.8%, it is deceptively easy drinking. Not your standard IPA hop profile with grilled pineapple, mango and orange making appearances on the nose. The taste carries a medium malt profile tending towards biscuits and toast. The hops make a splash in a big way with pineapple, orange and pine resins. The finish is nowhere near as bitter as one would expect with the massive hop character throughout but gives enough of a kick to balance it out.
While decidedly a brewpub, Tooth and Nail does offer wine for those firmly stuck in the “I won’t drink beer” camp (or the Celiac camp, for that matter). For the gaming crowd, they have a few boards of “Pucket,” a game I never knew existed until getting frantically enraged by it.
Seriously, it’s super fun and addictive.
Also, they have promised to show all the Senator’s hockey games this season, which is a huge plus for me (really though, I might just move in).
Tooth and Nail will be releasing a pilsner and an imperial stout in the coming weeks, and you had better believe I’ll be there to try them! If you’re in town, you certainly should, too.