Situated to the northeast of the GTA, Peterborough may not at first seem like the kind of place to support fine beers, but there are two establishments I stopped into on a recent trip to the city that every beer lover should check out. Even better, I enjoyed these two stops with someone who has lived in the city for several years and was able to discuss the beer selections at both venues.
The first beer-related stop on my trip was St. Veronus Café and Tap Room. Dubbing itself the “Belgian beer temple,” St. Veronus was recommended to me first by a Torontonian who had discovered the establishment’s selection of mussels and Belgian beers, but it was my friend in Peterborough who had insisted on seeking the place out for lunch. As a place to get lunch or dinner, St. Veronus offers a fine dining feel crossed with a friendly pub style. The food is excellent (instead of the mussels, I stuck with a sandwich, but there’s always next time), and the beer menus is actually quite impressive. It’s no Rhino or beerbistro (both Toronto meccas of great beer selection), but the narrow focus given to the beer list offers the ability to sample several different styles from a region of Europe known for its unique brews.
There are several beers on tap, but the selection is mostly limited to many of the common Belgian standards found on draught throughout Southern Ontario (Hoegaarden, Leffe), but the availability of Koningshoeven Tripel and Delerium Triple is a nice touch. St. Veronus still lists both as being available on draught, but whether this will last for long is anybody’s guess. In addition to the Belgian beers on tap, St. Veronus also offers Paulaner Hefeweisse (from Germany) and Stiegl Lager (from Austria). In total, the restaurant has nine taps at the bar.
Draught beer is not what St. Veronus is known for by Peterborough folk who know good beer, though. The bottle list is what keeps people coming back. With a selection of Belgian beers, in addition to both craft and macro beers from Canada and elsewhere, St. Veronus offers a variety of beer styles, including several Trappist and abbey ales, Belgian lagers, lambics, two Flemish reds, white beers, several “specialty” ales, and a brut that comes with the decadent price of $46 for a 750mL bottle (Deus Brut Des Flanders, coming in at 11.5% ABV). Mixed in with the Belgian brews is a smaller list of beers from Germany, France, Sri Lanka, the Netherlands, Mexico and the Great White North.
Although St. Veronus serves beer lovers with finer (or more expensive, if you’d prefer) tastes, the restaurant is also a good place to go if you’re a macro beer drinker. Molson Canadian and Labatt 50 are both available in bottle (so if you’re visiting with people who aren’t into the Belgian beer scene, they’re not completely out of luck for someone to drink).
My overall impression of St. Veronus was positive. The beer selection has a narrow focus but offers a variety of different styles. Many of the beers available are easily found on LCBO shelves, but there are also a few surprises available. The culinary arts are practiced well, so you can get a fine meal to go with your fine beers.
Part two of my road trip story will cover a quick visit to a brewery (eventually to be a brewpub) in downtown Peterborough.