I have a confession. Since moving to Toronto, I have actually started drinking beer – and surprisingly, I kind of like it.
It’s not really my fault. Having lived in South-west England for the past six or seven years, I am a cider drinker at heart.
The only problem is, whenever you ask a bar in Toronto if they serve cider, you will probably get a waiter/waitress enthusiastically tell you they do Strongbow.
And anyone who has lived in Bristol will know that isn’t quite up to scratch.
Anyway, enough of my pining for a Thatchers – I’ve adjusted to a new life of beer.
Over the few months, I have had chance to experience some of the finest breweries in town.
These are my favourites.
- Steam Whistle
The Steam Whistle Brewery is in downtown – right next to the CN tower. It is also next door to the railway museum – which I suppose ties in with the name quite nicely!
I am a big fan of Steam Whistle – the taste, the simplicity and the company’s general culture.
Word of warning, we attempted this tour many many times, and each time it was fully booked. You can pre-book for weekdays, but weekends are first come first serve. Although you can turn up in the morning and reserve a spot for later in the day.
The tour costs 10 CAD for 30 minutes – but you do get a bottle of Steam Whistle to drink on your way around plus some extra tasting samples at the end. Pretty good value all in all.
Even if you don’t have time to do the tour, it’s still worth popping into the Steam Whistle building. There’s a cool bar in there – plus freebies, a shop, art displays and the industrial building itself is pretty interesting.
- Amsterdam Brew House
Amsterdam Brew house is the place to go on a warm summer’s day, if you want some food and drink right on the lake side.
When I first got to Toronto – I was frustrated with the city’s waterfront. It has so much potential –such beautiful views – and yet most of it is covered in industry.
If you go a little further up the lakeside you will hit the beaches – but as for the waterfront directly by downtown, there is disappointingly little going on.
Which is why Amsterdam Brewhouse is normally heaving in summer. It is one of few hotspots on the waterfront.
Don’t let the massive queues deter you – it is definitely worth stopping for lunch here.
I haven’t actually done the tour, although I believe they offer free tours throughout the week and on Sundays.
I recommend their beer flight – where you get 4 mini beers to try. There’s one which is beer mixed with orange juice – it sounds debatable, but it is actually delicious.
- Mill Street Brewery
Again, I haven’t actually done the brewery tour on this one, but I included it as Mill Street is in the distillery district – which is one of my favourite areas of Toronto.
You will find Mill Street Beer all around Toronto. Its home in the distillery district is always busy – but ask if they have any tables even if it looks packed – as there is a large patio area hidden at the back.
Like Amsterdam Brewhouse, they do flights too so you can sample a few different brews in one.
And if you are pushed for time – by the entrance there is a tasting area where you can just sample a few freebies.
Make time to look around the distillery district whilst you are there. There are so many independent shops, cafes, food places and sometimes markets going on – all housed within heritage buildings of the former Gooderham and Worts distillery. You could easily spend an afternoon there.
So there we have it, my favourite 3 breweries so far! Although I am sure there are more to discover.
And I am still on the hunt for some excellent cider places – so if anyone has any recommendations, please get in touch!
Oh and finally, for any Canadians reading this – Happy Canada Day!