Meet Fine Balance Brewing Co.

By Abigail Beckett

Kingston’s east-end brewery emphasizes unique beers and community partnerships

Fine Balance Brewing Co. | 677 Innovation Dr. Unit 4 | Facebook

Fine Balance Brewing owner Andrew Silver started his company in Kingston in October 2020. He had planned to open his east end brewery earlier that year, but the timing was unfortunate. “When the pandemic hit, we actually had just started a week’s worth of construction,” he says.

The pandemic didn’t stop Andrew from opening his brewery, but it did influence what the brewery would entail. “It changed a few things…we bought a freezer. We carried a lot of local products from downtown, so that helped us make relationships within the community, which was cool.”

And of course, they started selling beer. Andrew says that it “probably wouldn’t have happened if there wasn’t a pandemic… it made us more distribution-focused.” Opening during a time with limited social access forced Andrew and his team to think creatively and devise new ways to sell their products. While pickup was available at their location in Kingston, Fine Balance also offered local delivery and flat-rate Ontario-wide shipping.

There are a few reasons why Fine Balance Brewing stands out. Their goal is to strike a balance between new world modern beers (like New England Hazy IPAs) and old-world classics (like pilsners). “I think the styles of beers that we make aren’t so accessible in Kingston…We do a lot of modern IPA beers, sours, and pilsners,” says Andrew.

Fine Balance launched with two IPAs and a light beer. Andrew says that their most popular is their dry-hopped IPA, Oats and Cream. The beer was inspired by modern IPAs coming out of Brooklyn and is brewed with a pile of oats and a touch of lactose. It is creamy and smooth with a fruit-forward finish and dry-hopped with Nelson Sauvin (New Zealand) and Citra (United States).

Andrew explains that Fine Balance is conscious of the calibre of beer they produce. “We’re very focused on the quality of the beers and making a lot of beer. So, we pay close attention to the ingredients, carefully source the ingredients that go into the beers, and we’re very academic about our recipes.”

Fine Balance sources its ingredients from a variety of places. Andrew says, “It’s kind of all over, to be honest. We have worked with some local producers. A lot of our grain comes from Ontario or Canada. But some of our hops come from New Zealand and Australia, and the U.S.”

They scout out these hops because of what they offer to the beer-brewing process. “Those hops have very unique flavor profiles that go with some beers that we make. And they aren’t available locally.” Their New Zealand Pilsner called Precipice is an example of how Fine Balance utilizes the unique flavours from hops. Precipice is brewed in the German tradition with a twist of New Zealand hops in the kettle as a dry hop. This brew in particular has a variety of hops, including the newly developed HORT9909, which is a cross between Hallertau Muttelfrüh, Sazz, and a wild German hop. The taste is citrus, pine, and balanced bitterness and a finish of cereal and diffused bitterness.

While they are academic with their recipes, Andrew’s team is always thinking of new styles to try. “We’re always kind of trying to gauge what the new kind of popular styles are in other parts of North America and how we might be able to reproduce or put our take on those styles.”

Fine Balance’s taproom opened in November of 2020 and because of the pandemic, like many other businesses, the taproom’s capacity for customers was limited. With restrictions now lifted, the taproom is completely open. It features an open space with seating, several taps, and in the summer, a patio. Depending on where you sit, you will even catch a glimpse of the brewing area. “We designed the space so that people can sit here and actually see the equipment. And if you’re here during the week, you’ll hear us canning, or you’ll see people brewing and doing work.”

Not only does the taproom serve as an excellent spot for enjoying a beer, but it is also available for other activities. “It’s a nice space for events. We have a weekly run club on Wednesday nights, we do trivia once a month, and we have a bike club on Saturdays,” says Andrew.

You also might catch the Otter Creek food truck parked outside the brewery.

Fine Balance is always creating original craft beers with funky flavours and unique inspiration. But the team is also open to brainstorm with other creators. “Yeah, we’re always often doing collaborations with different local businesses or other breweries,” says Andrew. As a limited release, Fine Balance has collaborated with Toronto Brewing to create a pilsner brewed in the German tradition but hopped with exclusively North American hops called One of One. It uses Mosaic and Loral to produce a bright, fruity character, with light bitterness at 5.2% ABV.

They just recently released a new beer from their gelato sour series in collaboration with – not another brewery – but with Kingston’s Mio Gelato. “They helped pick the flavours, or flavour profile. So, we went out and got some raspberries and lemon – which is their most popular combination of gelato – to reproduce that.” This raspberry and lemon beverage is light and easy drinking at 5.4% ABV.

Andrew explains that they are “trying to be a business that develops nice relationships with other local businesses to grow the local industry. Not just brewing, but also independent restaurants and bottle shops.” So far, they have done just that.

Community connections are important to Fine Balance and many local businesses have been reciprocal. Andrew says that “KBC has been our biggest supporter. They bought kegs of beer the week we opened.”

In addition to the Kingston Brewing Company (KBC), Fine Balance products can be found locally at Black Dog Tavern, Dianne’s Fish Shack and Smokehouse, and Atomica, Union Kitchen + Cocktails, The Grad Club, The Everly, Red House (downtown and Red House West), and The Duchess Pub.

In the fall, Fine Balance will be releasing a new barrel-aged series. This will consist of different stouts, porters, and saisons (highly carbonated pale ales) that have been aging in different white wine, red wine, and bourbon barrels. As well, their anniversary is in mid-October and Andrew says, “we have some special releases planned for that.” Keep an eye out for what Fine Balance Brewing will be releasing next.