Nothing says summer like a cold beer on a hot day. And Toronto is no stranger to the craft beer scene. If you’ve always wanted to learn how beer is brewed, sample Toronto-made suds, and drink in the city’s best scenery, these are three must-visit craft breweries.
Mill St. Brew Pub
For craft beer served with a heaping side order of Toronto history, head to the Mill St. Brew Pub in the Distillery District. This red brick building dates back to the 1870s and was originally a tank house in the Gooderham & Worts Distillery. As you enter the expansive venue, it’s easy to imagine it stacked with barrels of Canadian whiskey from the hardwood floor to the skylights high above. The earthy tones of the walls and soft lighting invite you to a dark wood table overlooking the glass-enclosed brewery. But, what to order? Should you try the multi-award winning Tankhouse Ale or the Mill Street Original Organic Lager, Ontario’s first organic beer? As you decide, the mouthwatering aroma of Beer-B-Que Ribs from another table solves your next dilemma—what to choose from the lengthy beer-infused food menu. You can’t leave without visiting the adjoining Beer Hall to raise a glass of Bierschnaps. (Yes, that’s German-style schnapps made from beer!) After all, distilling liquor is what spawned this bustling historic sector of Toronto, and it’s up to you to keep the tradition alive.
Steam Whistle Brewing
In the shadow of the CN Tower lies Steam Whistle Brewing. You can’t miss the neon green water tower and fleet of vintage delivery vehicles parked outside the funky historic roundhouse the brewery calls home. As you arrive, the namesake factory whistle sounds, reminding you that it’s always beer o’clock somewhere. The brewery’s motto is: “Do one thing really, really well.” That one thing for Steam Whistle is their premium Pilsner. Savour this crisp European-style classic at the expansive tasting bar, while admiring the soaring ceiling and huge windows of the railway-era architecture. The distant clinking of Steam Whistle’s distinctive green glass bottles on the production line beckons, so you take the tour. As you wind your way around the huge stainless steel vats, your guide highlights the brewery’s modern green initiatives, and somehow that makes the beer taste even better.
In the heart of Toronto’s waterfront, is the sprawling lakeside patio at the Amsterdam BrewHouse. Whether your tastes favour the malty richness of Downtown Brown Ale or the tart raspberry notes of Framboise, there’s something here for every craft beer connoisseur. Close your eyes as you sink back into a red Muskoka chair, the sun warming your face. The laughter and conversation around you is the only hint you’re not dockside in cottage country. Or pull up a high-topped chair at the bar inside the cavernous 1920s boathouse to watch the almost choreographed action in the two-storey open concept kitchen. The beer-inspired menu tempts you with a fresh baked pretzel topped with crunchy flakes of sea salt. As you dip a piece into Amsterdam’s Big Wheel grainy mustard, you check your watch. It’s almost time for your 30-minute guided tour—and another sampling of Amsterdam’s handcrafted beer at the free tasting.