I am very lucky that I have family located in some of the best beer tourism spots in the world. This year between Spring and Summer Quarter of the UCSD Extension Brewing Program I traveled to Toronto, Canada to visit my family and taste some beer!
I checked out a few beer tour/tasting options that were recommended to me before I started the trip (Craft Beer Passport and the Beer Lovers Tour Co.) but decided I love to explore breweries more organically and feel confined by tour groups and time schedules. Instead of the tours, we borrowed some bikes and mapped out a bike path to a few local breweries.
Weaving in and out of local shoppers on our bikes, our first stop was Kensington Brewery located in the vibrant Kensington Market. We rode up and down the five blocks that make up the market for an hour and could not find the brewery; we asked locals and were sent in many different directions. Eventually we gave up and turned our attention to finding some tacos, which we found at Seven Lives. It turns out the Kensington Brewery is moving and the new location is under construction. Beer is brewed through contract sites. (We did get to try their canned Big Eye PA at the Toronto airport before the flight home.)
Next stop on our bike tour was Steam Whistle Brewery. We made it through all the downtown rush hour traffic and emerged at one of the most picturesque breweries I have ever seen. Steam Whistle is located in the historic John Street Roundhouse, which once functioned as a Canadian Pacific Rail steam locomotive repair facility; the CN Tower hovers in the background. Steam Whistle Brewery only makes Pilsner. Their slogan is “Do one thing well.” I enjoyed the free sample of beer and jumped in with a tour group for a look around the brewery. Feeling energized by the refreshing Pilsner, we hopped on our bikes to finish our day in the Distillery District.
Mill St. Brewery is located in the famous Distillery District which was once the site of The Gooderham and Worts Distillery, also known to be the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian industrial architecture in North America. Again, we were offered free samples of the beer upon entering the brewery. I would recommend the Cobblestone Stout, and I also enjoyed their Lemon Tea Beer, a wheat beer infused with tea; it tasted fantastic after a long bike ride. After a quick snack and a stop at the Mill St. store to stock up on beer for dinner, we were back on the road joining the biking commuters on their way home from work. I held up about twenty commuters as I tried to keep the beers from wobbling in my bike basket – precious cargo!
Although we only dedicated one day to exploring breweries, great local beer punctuated each day. We enjoyed some Amsterdam Big Wheel Amber while attending The Urban Roots Music Festival. We spent a day in the beautiful Bellwoods Park and walked to the Bellwoods Brewery where we got to try some farmhouse ale called Farmageddon, a 100% brettanomyces fermented ale.
This was our first trip trying AirB&B and we loved it! We booked a private room in a whimsical cottage about two blocks from Kensington Market and our host was amazing. She showed us great local coffee shops and even put me in contact with a local brewery owner. The art, the tastes, and the sounds of this trip are unforgettable. Toronto is definitely one of my favorite beer tourism spots.