WHAT DO Hessenland, Ontario’s West Coast, Blyth, Absent Landlord, Floyd and 37 UCR members have in common? The More Cowbell Driving Tour!
My co-host Kathrin Menge and I had toured Cowbell Brewing last year and instantly thought that it would make a great driving tour destination. We then reached out to UCR member Gerhard Metzger to help us plan a route. He lives in the area and knows all the right roads. Thank you, Gerhard!
Not having had many driving tours this year, fingers were crossed that the weather for Sept. 20 would cooperate. As luck would have it, the weather was perfect for Porsche driving — 18 degrees, sunny and a crispy blue sky.
Located on the south shore of Lake Huron, the Hessenland Inn and Schatz Winery in Zurich was the starting point for the 180-kilometre tour. Hessenland’s owner Frank Ihrig, also a Porsche nut and 911 owner, asked us to line up the cars in front of the inn for photo opportunities. After the safety briefing, we gave away two goodie bags. The first was the long-distance prize that went to club member Joy Morrow, who drove from Ottawa in her beautiful silver 991 Targa. The second goodie bag went to the person who had the closest birthday — congratulations to Marilyn Minnes, ironically Joy’s guest and co-driver! Frank and the team at Hessenland were there to send us off and we thank them all for their gracious hospitality.
The route took us north through the area referred to as Ontario’s West Coast to the town of Bayfield and its lovely main street, lined with quaint shops and restaurants. After that we headed out to the beautiful Huron County countryside. The area is definitely rich in farm fields and having 20 colourful Porsches meandering and criss-crossing through farm country, we were easily noticed. On quite a few occasions residents were on their front lawns or at the end of their driveways enthusiastically waving to us as we drove past. Everyone smiled when they saw the Porsches!
At the westerly limit of the waterfront we parked at Rotary Cove and took an extended break. For those of us who had never been to this area, we were in awe of the turquoise-coloured water and the beautiful rocky beach.
After a brief stop and stretch at the Benmiller Inn we headed north to the town of Goderich, often referred to as Canada’s prettiest town. We drove through its historic octagonal traffic circle “the Square” enroute to the shores of Lake Huron. At the westerly limit of the waterfront we parked at Rotary Cove and took an extended break. For those of us who had never been to this area, we were in awe of the turquoise-coloured water and the beautiful rocky beach. After leaving the park we stopped for photos in front of the large towering Goderich elevator, a perfect backdrop of the town’s industrial history.
Leaving Goderich, we headed east through more farm country until we reached our end point at Cowbell Brewing in the village of Blyth. The staff at Cowbell had organized “Porsche Only” parking on the grassy field in front of the building. The staff were there to meet us outside at the entrance and organized half the group to proceed to lunch and the other half for a tour of the brewery.
Our tour guide Floyd had retired from his teaching career and joined Cowbell as a guide five years ago at the brewery’s inception. Floyd took us upstairs to the second floor and proceeded to tell us the history of how Cowbell Brewing came to be and what the future holds. The Cowbell name derives its history from the local cattle farming community. Listening to Floyd was captivating as he is an excellent storyteller. There is too much to share here and the story is fascinating and I encourage you to join us on a future driving tour or take your own drive to Cowbell and explore one of Canada’s finest craft-beer breweries that is carbon neutral and sustainable.
The town, originally founded as Drummond in 1855 after a local enterprising family, was renamed the same year to Blyth, after a certain absentee landowner in England purchased the majority of the buildings and properties in the village, sight unseen. One of Cowbell’s most popular beers, Absent Landlord, is named after Henry Blyth.
The Cowbell building was built in the traditional 19th century grand old barn design with a beautiful mix of wood and stone. Cowbell practices local farm-to-table food and we had smiles all around as everyone enjoyed their delicious lunch.
Thank you to all who attended and thank you to Stefan Walther for his administrative assistance before the tour. Kathrin and I look forward to hosting this tour again in 2021. We had excellent feedback such as, “So glad we had the opportunity to explore this beautiful area of Ontario” and “Could listen to Floyd all day long” and “Had no idea about Cowbell” and “Beautiful tour, perfect blend of driving, scenery, number of stops and excellent lunch destination.”
So until our next tour, be well and be safe! </>
Photos by the author, Kathrin Menge and Stefan Walther