The latest addition to the Stillwell Family of Good Beer Bars is opening its doors this weekend. The Stillwell Freehouse, located at 2534 Agricola St, is a departure from their original location on Barrington Street, and seasonal outdoor Beergarden on Spring Garden. Fully embracing the aesthetic of local pubs found in towns across the UK, the Freehouse features booths and low-top tables with a warm and cozy ambiance. The space flows from the bar, with its beautiful tap tower and hand pumps front and centre, finished with a (for now) shiny copper bar top. Seating is available at the bar, or in quiet, almost private, nooks along the sides of the space. The front room also features a dart board and bar billiards table in their own corners, perfect for exercising your elbow in a different way.
Walk through the archways into the middle room, opening up to the tall ceiling and exposed brick wall, with two benches wrapping the length of the space. Comfortable seating and marble-top tables can be moved to accommodate any size party and feel. A window through the back of the bar offers a view into the front room, and a spot to order a pint, though Stilly is also testing out table service at the Freehouse, one of many firsts for them. Past the WCs is a back room, not yet opened, with more things to discover in a few months.
Beer curation is key for the Freehouse mantra, with 6 casks and 10 rotating draught available at all times. While a cask served by gravity may only last a couple of days (due to air entering and filling the space displaced by the beer), the Freehouse is employing an Auto Tilt Stillage and cask breather to ensure the last pint is as fresh and tasty as the first. Speaking of, the casks first available this weekend are from across the province, including the Granite Best Bitter Special, Propeller ESB, and Tatamagouche Englishish Golden Ale and Patterson’s Porter.
The draught list will keep the same ethos as their other two locations, with a rotating stock of the best ciders and beers available in the province. We’ll be seeing fewer New England IPA tap take-overs and Gueuze-O-Ramas on Agricola, but that doesn’t mean the quality of the beer will suffer (plus, there’s always bottles on their list available to share!).
The plan is to keep at least one Pilsner on tap at all times, pouring through unique and beautiful side-pull taps for the perfect amount of head in the fat dimple stein brought in especially for the style. Pouring now are Grimross’ Praha and Stilly’s own Pils. Church Brewing’s Married to the Sea German-style Porter, Lunn’s Mill’s First Cut IPA, North Brewing’s Priority Pale Ale, and Stillwell’s Sook Grisette are complemented by Dieu du Ciel! Rosée d’Hibiscus Witbier and Voyageur des Brumes ESB. A pair of ciders are on the board at launch, with ChainYard Intrepid, and Pera from Revel Cider in Guelph.
The food program at the Freehouse takes a different route than that at either the HQ or Beergarden, but comes from the same heart. Chef Graeme Ruppel and his staff have created a modern menu with a nod across the pond, with sausage rolls, fat chips (sorry, no Tokyo fries here, but these are stellar!), “Wee Sandwiches” with a variety of local seasonal veggies and meats, and even nachos. For the first time, pizza will be available, with the Personal Pan Pizzas featuring a thick and airy, yet crispy-on-the-outside dough (we’re guessing done in a skillet), with both veggie- and omni- options. Also unique to the menu are full plates, with steak & chips, korma and pilaf, and roasted chicken pot pie available for the first time.
All that’s left to do is make it looked lived-in. Based on our experience last night, we don’t expect that’s going to take too long. The Stillwell Freehouse is a place to take a few minutes out of your hectic day to enjoy a pint and a roll, and chat with your neighbour or bartender. Or borrow one of the bar games, tuck into the Goujons, and let the day pass you by.
Opening today at noon, The Stillwell Freehouse at 2534 Agricola St is open Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday 12 PM – 12 AM, and Thursday through Saturday 12 PM – 2 AM. Keep an eye on the latest happenings through their social media.