Ok, there is no disguising the fact that this post is going to be about drinking beer in Toronto (look at the title above – I think it is pretty clear). What the title does not suggest is that this post is actually about local brew pubs in the city that offer brewery tours and beer tastings (best part of the tour by far). If you thought this post was going to be about some wild night on the town – you are sadly mistaken.
So over the last few weekends, I have had the pleasure of visiting two local brew pubs in the city – Mill Street Brew Pub and the Beer Academy. I have never felt like such a tourist in my own city (ok, I lied. I feel pretty touristy every time I go to the CN Tower), and I honestly have to say that I LOVED it. I have gone on brewery tours in Denmark, Ireland and Belgium, but never thought to do one in Canada – let alone Toronto. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit either of these brew pubs, I would highly recommend it (and I’ll let you know why).
The Mill Street Brew Pub is located in the Historic Distillery District of Toronto and gets points just for it’s location and atmosphere. While this brewery does make beer on-site, we learned that the beer they produce is typically just used for the restaurant and shop. The mass production of the beer happens at a large-scale brewery just east of the city. I am not going to write an awful lot about what we learned during the tours as you should check it out for yourself (and honestly, I can’t remember anything other than the 4 ingredients that go into making beer and that I never want to eat hops). Needless to say, we had a very enthusiastic tour guide and got to taste some of the varieties they had available such as the award-winning Tankhouse ale, Organic Lager, Stock Ale, and Wit Beer.
We didn’t have a chance to taste Balzac’s Coffee Porter, Stout or Pilsner – but hey, that’s what another visit is for! The tasting room/store is located just outside of the restaurant, and you can go in there to get samples of the beer if you aren’t sure what you like. There is also a tasting flight available on the menu if you decide to hang around the brew pub and get a bite to eat (we snacked on some delicious sweet potato fries while we were there).
New to the city is the Beer Academy – a small-batch craft brewery, tasting room and beer shop. The staff are very knowledgable on everything beer and you can tell they love what they do (and enjoy sharing a pint with local patrons). The tour at Beer Academy was more of a tasting than a tour, but we still got to visit their on-site facilities and learn a little bit about the beers they produced. If you really wanted to learn about the history of beer, they had about 3 walls wrapped with information (our tour guide hasn’t even had the time to read it all).
What was great at the beer academy is that you would learn about how various types of beer were made, and then get to taste the beers and see how quite different they were from one another. After about my 5th mini-pint of beer, I could feel the alcohol start to kick in. This was a sign that I obviously didn’t eat enough before I arrived and should probably stop drinking (even though there were still plenty of beers that I wanted to try). I really didn’t care to be drunk by 4 in the afternoon.
However, I have made a mental note to self that when I return (and I will), that I will taste those remaining beers and come on a fully belly!