Ottawa’s tiny prohibition themed craft brewery sets itself apart by both it's unique setting in the lower level of a beautiful stone building and by the beer it brews. Thankfully I now know my onions, and am convinced that Waller St Brewing is the bees knees. (Scroll down for a 1920's slang cheat sheet).
Walking past the wrought iron railing and down the stairs of the heritage building you get the feeling you're descending into a different era. The prohibition era, to be exact. That time warp sensation continues as we made our way past huge painting of King Henry the VIII and found ourselves in a cozy, dark British-style pub complete with stained glass and a large wooden bar. The bartender, David, was no rag-a-muffin, looking the part of your friendly neighbourhood bootleggin' fella, sporting suspenders and a crisp white shirt. For a second I wonder if maybe that heavy wooden door had been a portal that transported us back into the roaring 20s... but seeing as I couldn't say Giggle Water with a straight face, and there was nare a feather boa in sight I knew that this swanky juice joint was simply a darb recreation of the prohibition era speakeasy. And lucky for us, drinking alcohol is not illegal in 2018.
Thankfully we didn't have to settle for any bathtub gin because Waller St Brewing had 14 beers for us to sample between tap, bottle and cask! Who doesn't love a good cask? Waller St Brewing uses the casks to try out new fun versions of their beer. Once that cask is gone, its gone! If that doesn't make you want to visit often.. then you may just be a flat tire...
Being a party of three, none of us teetotalers, we ordered ALL of the beers. With no intention of being completely blottoed by the end we ordered taster size. We don't take any wooden nickles! With names like the Bootleg Blonde, Speakeasy Red, Blind Pig and Juice Joint Sour it was easy to see that care had gone into continuing the prohibition theme from the bar itself into the beer. It was very well done. As an aside, did you know that during prohibition bars would skirt the law by charging people to see an absurd animal attraction, like a blind pig.. or even just a regular pig. The viewing came with a free drink and therefore no one was actually selling alcohol. So generous.. and sneaky!
Starting with the Bootleg Blonde and working our way through Tiger Milk, Jazzy Beets, Moonlight Porter and Imperial Funk into a Black IIPA (double IPA) we happily agreed that Waller St Brewery offered a very wide, diverse variety of flavours, especially for such a tiny brewing space. Assuming you actually like beer, Waller St probably has a beer for you!
Winners in our group were the Speak Softly APA, Imperial Scotch River sour and the Black IIPA. If you're in to sours, Waller St. has more than any other brewery that we've visited in Ottawa lately.
Overall, our visit to Waller St Brewing was the bullfrog’s beard and that's no phonus balonus. David the bartender was friendly and knowledgeable and, lucky for him, was with us to witness to Nancy being awarded the Artisan badge from Untappd! Now that's a big deal, folks! The cat's meow, some might even say! She now checked-in and rated 100 different beers in the app! Yup.. we're beer geeks ...ahem.. experts?
Waller St’s brews were tasty and unique, which we all really appreciated, and the pub itself was so fun and atmospheric. Next time I feel like getting all dolled up in my glad rags and heading out to see a guy about a blind tiger, I’d bet all my white lightning that you'll find me at Waller St Brewery- Ottawa's friendly neighbourhood speakeasy! Assuming you're no Mrs. Grundy, maybe I'll see you there!
1920's Slang Cheat Sheet
Know your onions: to know what’s up or what’s going on
Giggle Water: and alcoholic drink
Darb: something deemed wonderful or splendid
Rag-a-muffin: disheveled individual
Teetotaler: someone who doesn't drink
Don't take any wooden nickles: don't do anything stupid
Bathtub gin: any style of homemade spirit made in amateur conditions
Flat tire: a bore
Glad rags:clothes for a special occasion; one's best clothes.
Phonus balonus:the phoney baloney of 1920s slang
Blind tiger: speakeasy
Zozzeld: also drunk
Mrs. Grundy: an uptight or very straight-laced individual
White Lighting: illicit homemade whiskey, typically colorless and distilled from corn.
Bullfrog’s Beard: another way to say bees knees- apparently animal anatomy was big with the flapper girls and their jellybeans (boyfriends)
And remember- friends don't let friends drive zozzeled!
Want to show up at Waller St Brewing prepared? Check out these links to expand your 1920s slang!
-this extensive PDF
article from the Atlantic