The Old Toronto Beer Tour

By on July 12, 2012

I think anyone who knows me or has read my blog knows that I am a huge beer lover. I love learning about what makes each brewing process unique and what it takes to make different tasting beers. I always look for something new to try when I hit the LCBO and have had quite the obsession with Ontario Craft beer for a few years now. So when I was given the opportunity to be a part of the Old Toronto Beer tour last weekend, I jumped at the chance. I knew I would be able to learn a few things, meet some new people who were also into beer and catch a buzz along the way. We all met at Steam Whistle Brewery at 11am sharp Saturday morning to start a full day through the history of beer in Toronto. I was feeling a little rough from the night before and wasn’t too sure what to expect. Good thing for me as soon as we met our tour guide -the beer expert himself, Oliver Dawson, I forgot about how I was feeling and the night out I had. He was so engaging and as soon as he started to talk, you wanted to listen. I found myself hanging off every single word and drinking it up like a great IPA. He shared with us his experiences working for Upper Canada and the many beer tours he had led all over Europe while we all sipped on our first beer of the day. We stayed at Steam Whistle for little while where we went on the walking tour of the brewery, chatted about their old school brewing process and of course their historical railway “Roundhouse” location. After the tour we enjoyed a great smorgasbord lunch of sandwiches, meats, cheeses and of course beer.

After a much needed pee break we were on our way to the next location, Fort York. We all boarded the big yellow school bus and headed towards where modern Toronto and the history of beer all began. It began here because soldiers in the British Army were allowed ‘six pints a day’ as part of their daily ration. So basically a few breweries were built and maintained close to this area specifically to pay the soldiers. I loved walking around Fort York, seeing the history of our great city and learning how beer played a major role in its development.

An hour later or so, we were back on the yellow bus and off to Amsterdam Brewery. I had never been to this famous Toronto brewery before and was really looking forward to it. It was a very casual experience, nothing like the super organized tour at Steam Whistle. At Amsterdam it is definitely all about the beer tasting experience and the social aspect of trying all their beers in a tutored tasting. This was my fave stop of the day; we all stood around their large bar where all the beer taps are set up and watched as Oliver began to pour pitchers. We tried about 7 beers which included the Amsterdam Blonde,416 wheat beer, Big Wheel Amber Ale, Nut Browne Ale and a newer one I had my eye on as soon as we got there called the Boneshaker which is a hoppy IPA at 7.1% – me likey! We also tried the Raspberry Wheat and Cream Ale from KLB (Kawartha LakesBrewery). Did you know that in order to brew a cream ale style beer you must use hard water? This is want gives it its chalky creamy mouth feel that cream ale drinkers know so well.

We re-boarded our bus pretty tipsy after the fantastic and informative beer tasting at Amsterdam Brewery for a short driving tour of the old city of Toronto. As we drive Oliver tells us interesting tid bits and stories about some of Toronto’s ‘lost breweries’.Then we were taken on a brief walking-tour through the heart of “Corktown” where we walked through 19th century old little streets and tiny twisting alleyways that led us to the restored legendary Dominion Brewery.

Our last stop was to Mill Street Brewery which is housed in an old Tankhouse within the 19th century Gooderham & Worts Historic Distillery District.The Mill Street Brewery is East Toronto’s first commercial brewery to open in over 100 years, producing handcrafted organic beers and ales in a neighborhood once renowned for its beer. We were taken on a short tour of the brewery and their brewing process it was packed! We then made it to the tasting room and tried 4 of their beers that they had on tap. We started with the Organic, then the Stock Ale, Tankhouse and Coffee Porter. I have been a Mill St Beer fan for a long time now and coming to the brewery for the first time made me fall in love with it all over again. Tour members may choose to stay and explore the Distillery District, head safely home or join Oliver for a fabulous optional beer dinner at the Granite Brewery. We ended up staying and walked the cobblestone streets and explored the eclectic assortment of galleries and shops.

I had an incredible day on this tour! I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys history and beer or just wants to know more about both – you really learn so much. Oliver is one of the best tour guides I have ever had, he really is an expert and made everything so fun and come together so seamlessly along the way.

Erin Scheel

About Erin Scheel

Food Lover • Blog Girl • Recipe Rebel! My name is Erin and I am in a constant search for a full belly. I have lived in Toronto most of my life and have been enamored with the city’s food culture and fascinated by the culinary possibilities this city has to offer on a daily basis. I'm really into cooking, vintage clothes, chocolate milk, craft beer, french fries, leftovers and then working it all off at the gym! Read it and eat it here:, Twitter: @erinlovessfood, Instagram: erindotcom

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  1. Pingback: Erin Loves Food » The Old Toronto Beer Tour

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