Small brewing companies have been popping up all over Canada for decades now, but have only really taken the lead within the last few years. What used to be only hipster beer and the choice for those who only drink anything that isn’t ‘main stream’ and therefore, death producing, is now quickly gaining ground with those who have been imbibing in beer for decades. Yes, the parents of the young and the grandparents of the cool are now taking it upon themselves to look a little more local and a lot more hip. The Steam Whistle Brewery, located in Toronto, is more than just a place to grab a beer with friends (something you can actually do inside the brewery) or a tour to take. This brewery gives back to the community in any way that they can; you can find artwork of many a talented artist on their walls, showcasing their skills and helping them sell a few more pieces. While I made my boyfriend buy a case of beer solely for the Hudson’s Bay bottle opener key-chain, others are delighting in this pilsner made right in Canada. Although the hops comes from Czech Republic, everything else is done right here at home. So, grab a free tasting, or buy larger pints and soft pretzels, and take a seat in the lounge. Wait for the next tour to learn a little bit more or for your group of friends to stop by.
You can find it across from Rogers Centre, Ripley’s Aquarium and the CN Tower, right in Roudhouse Park. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to see them moving some of the trains, which is wickedly awesome and insanely boring all at once.
Seeing a railway turntable in use gets really exciting really fast and then really old really, really fast. The good thing is that you can wander around the park and learn a little bit about the cool trains without missing much. If you’re running late to the tour and are afraid of missing out on all the cool trains, don’t worry, there will more train talk during the tour, too! Their brew-house is more than just a place for beer; the Roundhouse used to function as a Canadian Pacific Rail steam locomotive repair facility. A working steam whistle is built into the brew-house and used to start the day, end the day or just for fun. They host all kinds of events in their beautiful brew-house from free to cheap to moderately priced.
Their original name used to be The Three Fired Guys as they were three guys who had been fired. Easy enough. However, marketing decided against the name and it was changed to Steam Whistle Brewery.
True to the pilsner ways, they use Bavarian and Czech hops and even have a Czech brew-master. Although, the last part may just be a coincidence and more about him probably being a nice guy who knows what’s up when it comes to beer.
True to the cool-guy beers of today, this company is environmentally grateful. They like to be green right from their bottles (which can be refilled more than 45 times and have a painted logo instead of paper); everything is recycled – everything; they use Enwave’s Deep Water Cooling instead of a regular boring old A/C; plus, they use bio-diesel for their delivery trucks and use efficient vehicles like a SMART car or Mini.
The guide will meet you upstairs in their lounge, tell you a bit about themselves, ask the group some questions, hand you a beer, and you’re off. You’ll learn about the backstory of Steam Whistle Brewery, what makes a pilsner a true pilsner, you’ll get to see the workers in action while you stroll through the brewery, sipping or chugging your beer along. This quick tour is an in and out kind of excursion, ready to ply you with beer and information. If you’re the lucky chosen one, you’ll be able to pull the steam whistle, letting everyone know you’re an annoying tourist, but not caring about that status for the moment.
$12 bucks per person for a tour.
When it comes to the savings, if you’re there for the beer, it’s money well spent. The tour costs $12 (less than a lunch), but you get a free tasting from the moment you step foot in the door (1), regardless if you’ve bought a ticket for the tour. Handing out beer is what they do. You also get a free bottle when you tell the guide where you’re from (2). After you’ve completed the tour you get another tasting of their special brew that only employees and tour goers get at the end (3). So, in total, you end up with three beers (or 6 if you’re my boyfriend as I do not enjoy beer) some knowledge and, hopefully, got to pull the steam whistle, which I can’t stress enough, looks like it is worth the entire tour.