Follow beer writer, Troy Burtch, as he explores the wonderful world of craft beer and the pubs that serve it. Great Canadian Beer is a place to come to catch up on beer news, read tasting notes, check out event listings, and for pub previews and reviews.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Huether Hotel - Lion Brewery & Restaurant: Waterloo, ON

There are certain moments in your life that can't escape your memory: your first kiss, purchasing your first car, first house, getting married, the birth of your child and many more. I have yet to experience three of the above scenario's but to make up for them I'll tell you about the Huether Hotel in Waterloo, ON, or more notably, The Lion Brewery Restaurant located inside.

You see, I can still vividly recall the first night I stepped foot into the historic building and hopefully I always will. My fiancee was in University at the time at Wilfred Laurier and her and her roommates often frequented the Lion Brewery Restaurant (LBR) to celebrate birthday's. I had the pleasure of joining them on one such occasion and I was immediately hooked. It would seem that every weekend I visited her in Waterloo that we would make our way over to indulge in some pints of their brewed on-site beers or taste the many signature dishes on their menu. Everytime we visited we had good service, the beer were always good and the atmosphere and ambiance never disappointed. This is why I still keep going back. It has taken me too long to keep a post about one of my favourite drinking destinations.

The building that the Huether Hotel and the LBR occupies dates back to 1842 and from 1899 to 1930 was owned and operated by the Kuntz Brewing Company before they merged with E.P. Taylor's Carling conglomerate. During Kuntz' time in the building the hotel had several different proprietors and it was in 1953 that John Peter Aldys and his partner purchased the building and subsequent businesses, thus starting the Aldys legacy in the area. John's son Bernie and his wife Sonia would later go on to manage the hotel and in 1975 they purchased the property off the senior Aldys and they still run the show to this day.

The LBR, named after the Lion Brewery that once occupied the side building adjacent to the hotel in the early 1900's, is located just off the street level and down some rickety, weathered, old wooden steps. Entering the main hallway you'll come across many framed newspaper clippings and accolades that have been compiled over the years and provide customers with some nostalgia regarding the famed monument.

LBR was opened in 1987 after four years of extensive labour, a job that included clearing two caverns (ice rooms from the old breweries??) of several tons of rubble. When the renovations were complete the brewing tanks where installed in one of those caverns and beer was pumped directly to the bar. Because of the increasing popularity of Waterloo's newest brews, the Aldys made a decision to re-locate the tanks to another section of the building and use the caverns for hosting large parties or alternate seating during busy nights.

So, let me get back to my most recent visit. Last Saturday, after we headed west down the 401 to the Grand River Brewing Co, we made a bee-line to the Huether for a late lunch and a sample tray of beers. And there are a fair number to choose from. Lion Lager, Adlys Ale, Huether's Premium Lager, Light Lager, Black & Tan (Lager/English Ale), Speciality Brew (summer one Weiss), Honey Brown Lager, English Ale and Wuerzburger Lager.

We arrived just before 4pm to a near empty place and had our choice of tables. We choose to sit up near the bar and just off the kitchen, which juts out into the eating area. I settled on the sample tray that consisted of the English Ale, Wuerzburger, Black and Tan and the Weissbier. I found the Wuerzburger to be the standout winner while the Weiss was not at its best. The rest were alright, nothing to knock your socks off, but good nonetheless. The paddle is only $3.75, so it wouldn't hurt to have two trays to sample all the beers.

The room is beautiful, simply put. The rustic wood, natural stone flooring and walls, solid wooden and brick supports, all blend together nicely with some modern stainless steel from the kitchen, which creates a cabin in the woods feeling. I find it comforting. As mentioned, the floors are flat natural stone that are moderately raised here and there, reminiscent of a cellar you might find in an old farm house. The west side wall is of solid rock foundation that hasn't been altered in the building's 166 years of existence. Small windows provide some light into what would otherwise be considered a dungeon. Hours can be spend down there and you can emerge into the darkness of the night without even realizing it. The walls are covered with antiques, some from the many breweries that have occupied the building. There is also a large stone fireplace located at the back of the restaurant that comes alive during the winter, and features a beautiful painting of a lion by Sonia Aldys on a shelf above.

The 37 foot straight bar stretches from the main entrance all the way to the kitchen and sports some pretty amazing German style draught towers, all differently coloured. There are 10 bar back stools, one being occupied by a older gentleman who seems concentrated on the book in his hand. The music is barely audible, which I appreciate, and I'm sure our reader friend does too. Admittedly, our server, who doubles as the bartender, claims she's not a big beer person but I'm okay with that as she oozed enthusiasm and seems committed to ensure we have a good time. There are a couple televisions behind the bar on mute showing some sports.

The atmosphere is terrific, it reminds me why I love this place. The food is great (although not to great for celiac's), the beer is good - definitely worth trying and the building is very memorable. I would recommend this place to anyone interested in historic buildings, quality food, handcrafted beers and good times.

*The Huether Hotel, LBR, Cafe 1842, and Barley Works are located at 59 King Street North, Waterloo, ON.


the coelacanth said...

thanks for the wonderful report! i've really gotta make it to the huether soon, as i've never been. i think a castle on king/huether/GRB trip for me is on the offing....

Anonymous said...

I go back all the time for homecoming and absolutely love it. The Huether would be my local if I lived nearby.

Troy Burtch said...

coelacanth: Thanks for the nice words. I didn't make it to the Castle during my trip, although I would have loved to. It would be a great day.

Jack S: I have actually been there on homecoming too and the place gets packed with people of all ages and demographics. It is a great time. Thanks for reading

cdk said...

As a long-time resident of KW, I can't begin to think of just how much time (and cash) I've spent at the various parts of the many-faceted Huether. (That includes a few evenings of karaoke in what was normally the peelers part of the place!)

It's pretty well-rounded: Castle (in Kitchener) has better beer, other places may have better food or ambiance, but nobody puts the elements together as well.

So we keep ending up back there, every week or two.

Jason Koebel said...

The Huether has always been one of my favorite places to eat and drink. From the ginormous patio to the cozy restaurant in the basement, and all levels in between, I can't think of a more perfect brewpub. My favorite brew on tap is Adleys ale.

Web Analytics

Winter Ale