When my esteemed editor suggested that I write a review about the Flying Monkey Brewery I fessed up and shared with him that I am not a beer drinker, nor am I much of a drinker period. But that matter was easily rectified by offering a friend the opportunity to be my “designated beer taster”, so off we went to Oz, aka The Flying Monkey Brewery, for a crash course in microbreweries, and a taste testing tour.
I met with Andrea Woods Chiodo, co-owner, and as her business card states; “Ego Management, Creative Director & Resident Word Nerd, The Good Woman Behind the Man since 1988”. With their motto of “Normal is Weird”, I knew I was in for an adventure.
Andrea enthusiastically explained to me that she has heard just about every bad joke and pun created based on their reference to the classic Wizard of Oz movie. While she and her husband Peter decided that the time was right to make a change, moving from Fortune 400 grey suits to seeking their fortune building a brewery, they didn’t know that a few years later they would be rebranding their micro-brewery from the conservative Robert Simpson to the off the wall Flying Monkeys, so christened based on a longstanding family joke of “don’t make me get my flying monkeys”.
This craft brewery has taken flight with beer aficionados and curious tourists alike, tours run daily; Monday to Friday at 2 pm, Saturday 1, 2, 3 and 4 pm and seasonal Sundays at 1 and 3 pm.
While the basic ingredients in beer contain 4 items; malt, water, hops and yeast, it is the quality of the base ingredients and unlimited variations on a theme, that allows craft beers to create unique products. I learnt that there are over 4000 varieties of hops!
As Andrea says, they brew to taste not to style, but clearly they brew style and trend too.
The Flying Monkeys has started a “Brewing in Music Series”, an original concept whereby the brewery collaborates with a Canadian Band to create a unique brew, this is marketing genius. Canadians take their hockey, their music and their beer quite seriously. First up is the collaboration brew with the Barenaked Ladies. Andrea shared with me that Kevin Hearn of Barenaked Lady fame is also a creative artist and his drawings were used in the artwork for the beer cases. This beverage is an Imperial Chocolate Stout, in which they used organic Ecuadorian cocoa nibs…talk about original!
The Flying Monkey Brewery clearly has an ambitious marketing plan; their storefront is chockablock full of on trend imbibing related tchotchkes; including and not limited to, glasses of every size, t-shirts, aprons, bottle openers, peanuts, coasters, caps, and coolers full of beer. Year round beers, specialty beers, keg sized beers, and my favorite, the giant purple beer fridge. Want to have a little bit of the Flying Monkeys in your own home? A unique purple fridge shows just how creative you can be if you choose to purchase a fridge conversion kit, for tapping into a Flying Monkey keg…makes good, colourful and creative use of that old beer fridge you can’t bear to part with.
Flying Monkeys love festivals and you will find them at Barrie’s own Ribfest and Promenade Days, if you are a fan or would like to try their specialty Orange Mungus beer, this would be the time. Local festivals allow the Flying Monkeys to get converts to spread, or shall I say pour, the good news and brews.
Flying Monkeys Brewery also has a gorgeous upstairs event space; a great room with fire place and bar that can be booked for birthdays, business events or weddings.
Adhering to their philosophy of “Drink craft beer, think globally but drink locally”, the Flying Monkeys is clearly a local gem.
How did my designated taste tester rate her afternoon imbibing? When she purchased a 6 pack to take home for further research, I knew she was giving our local craft brewery thumbs up.
The Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery, 107 Dunlop Street East, Barrie 705-721-8989 www.theflyingmonkeys.ca
– Written by: Penelope Morrow
Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and food aficionado from Barrie, follow her tweets at @penelopejmorrow