Visiting Sawdust City Brewery: Our Beer Tasting Experience

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Sawdust City Brewery is a Classic Ontario Craft Beer Experience!

Are you looking to try Ontario craft beer and are not sure which brewery to check out? Why not head to the heart of Muskoka to hang out at Sawdust City Brewing Co.?

Located right in Gravenhurst, Sawdust City is serving up amazing beers in a great location with a patio. They have really made a name for themselves in the scene of Ontario craft breweries.

Having only really been to larger breweries in Toronto, we were lucky enough to stop in for a visit in the summer.

We are so glad that we did! So, we wanted to share our experience at Sawdust City, tell you a little bit about them, and – of course – dive into what beers we sampled. In fact, the whole craft beer scene is a top thing to explore in Ontario!

If you want to check out their official website, you can do so here. If not, here’s our experience one afternoon trying out a few beers!

Where is Sawdust City Brewing Co?

Navigation Address: 397 Muskoka Road North, Gravenhurst, Ontario

Sawdust City Brewing is located in Gravenhurst, Ontario – right in the heart of the famed Muskoka region of Ontario (and Canada).

Known as the heart of cottage country, the area is the place to go for amazing lakes, resorts and cottages, Ontario wilderness, Canadian culture, and all-season fun (especially summer).

Gravenhurst is about 2 hours north of Toronto – traffic depending. Just take Highway 400 to Highway 11 and follow the exits for Gravenhurst. You can’t miss it – they have one of the largest “Muskoka” chairs in the world at the front. Yes, you can climb on top and snap that photo.

The facility in Gravenhurst is a massive 20,000 sq foot facility where all the magic happens. They do all the brewing, barrel-aging, canning, retail selling, and beer tasting in the Saloon bar onsite. Talk about a one-stop shop!

The Backstory of Sawdust City Brewing Co.

Sawdust City Brewing Co was founded by two guys that had industry knowledge about the landscape of craft beer in Canada.

They got together with an idea for a brewery in Gravenhurst that was sustainable and reflected the heart and ideas of the famous Muskoka region – and Sawdust City was born.

Sawdust City has 6 core beers that are always available but they pride themselves on their creative drafts, seasonal flavours, special editions, and all-around fun beer culture.

Our Visit to Sawdust City Brewery

inside of store with clothes and products on shelves at sawdust city brewery.
Need a souvenir? Grab your gear and don’t forget some beer!

Once you are inside, you enter a massive retail store with merchandise and fridges. If you just need a few cans or growlers, you can stop right here, grab them, and cash out in no time. If you want to stay for the experience, walk into the Saloon.

The bar area is known as “The Saloon”. Filled with high and low tables with stools or chairs, the Saloon surrounds the massive pine log bar top and has large windows looking into the massive silver vast in the brewing area.

At one end, the bar area has a stage where Sawdust frequently does live music, bingo, and trivia. You can check the venue schedule for something that interests you!

You can also do a brewery tour on Saturdays if you are interested and we’d say definitely sign up ahead in the summer to avoid disappointment. We didn’t do one, though – we just came to sample!

The Beer Tasting at Sawdust City Brewery

beer menu on chalkboard with taps underneath at brewery.
It can be difficult to choose what you want to sample…

Admittedly, we hadn’t had a ton of Sawdust City’s beer before heading to Sawdust City Brewery. We’ve had a lot of Ontario craft beer, but Sawdust was never really one of them. One of the reasons for this is the sheer selection available.

The craft beer scene in Ontario has exploded in recent years so the competition is fierce and shelf space at the LCBO is at a premium.

That’s why we’re glad we got to go to the actual brewery, see where it’s made, and learn about the beers. It was a way better experience and we’re more likely to spot it on the shelf next time.

As for the actual tasting, it’s pretty simple. You can grab a pint or a sampler, you can grab a wooden flight board with holes for 4 beers, OR you can grab a wheel for TWELVE beers.

We were two people drinking (we had one driver, be responsible out there!), so we went for the 12. Here it is in all its heavenly beer glory:

craft beer samples in glasses in wooden wheel on table at brewery.
A dozen beers for two people – you can get less if you want!

Choosing the beer was actually really hard. They have 18 taps to choose from. Here’s how you begin your tasting:

You get a wheel, grab a piece of chalk, and write down the beer you want as per the beer list right in front of you. Then they get to work filling your wheel. Walking back to the table was a little nerve-wracking but we made it.

Eric usually goes for a hoppy IPA but on this day he had the following beer: 

  • Ol’Woody Alt (Amber Lagered Ale)
  • Titania Red Rocket (Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout)
  • Maple Buttertart (Flavoured Amber Ale)
  • Coriolis Effect (Sour Berlinerweisse)
  • A Place to Stand (Ontario Lager)
  • Fruits of Eden (Fresh Hop Pale Ale)

To briefly sum up, the Imperial Stout was 11.9% and a tad too strong in flavour – it finished thick and full of bourbon.

Both lagers were nice (preferred the Ol’Woody) as was the Pale Ale. The Sour and the Buttertart were just to try some different fun flavours. Both were great – the sour was low percentage but very flavourful.

The Food at Sawdust City Brewery

When we visited, Sawdust City used to have a food truck outside. Recently, they have added “The Kitchen” so their facilities so you can full-on meals right in-house.

Since we haven’t tried their new food, we cannot comment – but we will be back soon to try out their eats. Here is the Kitchen Menu for Sawdust City Brewery.

The Verdict – to Visit or Not to Visit Sawdust City?

And there you have it – a little bit about our visit to Sawdust City Brewery. In the end, you come for the beer and to appreciate the work they put into their craft.

Sawdust City did not disappoint. The beer was great, the staff were super friendly, the place was accessible and pet-friendly (we had a dog and there is a dog-friendly table inside).

Everyone in the place (it was busy for a Saturday mid-afternoon in the fall) was genuinely having a good time. Shout out to Sawdust City for a great afternoon – we definitely recommend checking them out… we know we’ll be back!

As always, Keep Exploring, Eh?
– E&L

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photo with beer sample glasses on wooden table with text overlay Beer Tasting At Sawdust City Brewery.
Eric Wychopen is a Canadian content writer who loves to share his passion for Ontario. Originally from a small town in Simcoe County, he has almost 50 countries under his belt - but Ontario will always be home. Having travelled thousands of kilometres across the province for work and play, Eric has a wealth of knowledge about the province and is always looking for new experiences in Ontario.