A few weeks back some of the team van go folks headed down to Toronto for a bit of a road trip / Beer tour.
Our host for the day was a gentleman by the name of Oliver Dawson. He was an extremely knowledgeable guide, and took our group in stride. Any question we fired out he had a response, and was able to elaborate and educate us more. For a weekend where I wasn’t expecting to retain anything due to alcohol consumption, I remember and continue to think of some of the points that was learned over the course of the day.
Our day started out at 11am at the Steam-whistle brewery. We walk into the doors and are greated by Oliver, a friendly staff and a bottle of cold Steam-whistle. After a brief overview of what our day is going to entail, we headed into the brewery for a private tour of the facility, with a fresh bottle of beer. If you have not been in Steam-whistle before, I highly recommend it. Even if it is not your favorite beer, go inside, take a look around, and drink a pint.
After the tour, we had another sample of Steam-whistle, we made a sandwich for lunch, and another one for later on in the day, loaded onto a magical transportation device called a school bus and went to Old Fort York.
Most of the tvger’s had never been to the site, so it was a really interesting place to walk around. Oliver provided us with a history lesson on the city of Toronto and the history of beer and the influence beer had on the city. So yes, the tour tied in beer with Fort York, but no beer samples there. There was more to come for sure.
We jumped back onto the bus and did a tour over to the Six Pints Beer Academy. The Beer Academy is owned by both Creemore Springs and Granville Island Brewery, which in turn is owned by Molson’s. Not to put anything against the Beer Academy. We were then greeted by staff from the Beer Academy and brought to a private room for another tasting of 3 of their beers. What the names were I cannot remember, but there was a cloudy one, a redish one, and a dark one…. We were brought up to speed on the difference between ales and lagers, and the difference between the brewing processes. Johnny had a very interesting question for out female host at the Beer Academy. “Have you ever heard of Dry Hopping”. Now when you read that slow you understand the question, but find a friend and ask them the same question, but say it somewhat quickly. You can probably understand the laughing that was started by the question in a room of people who have been drinking beer. As we were having a discussion about hopping, beer etc, Derek decided it was a good time to inspect the inners of his eye lids, which caused a lot of laughter for everyone else.
After our experience at the Beer Academy, we boarded the big yellow school bus and drove down to Mill Street Distillery district. At Mill Street, we again walked right in into a back area and started drinking other samples, from Organic, Stock Ale, Vanilla Porter, and capped off with Beer Schnapps. Now let me be the first to say, I’m not a Schnapps person, I prefer beer, and this shot of Schnapps did not change my mind. I still do not like Schnapps. Like Big Mark said, it tasted like eating a cigar…. yes it tasted that bad… I give Mill Street credit to trying it, and if you are a Schnapps person, by all means give it a try. if you are not, I would stay away and spend your money on beer… I think we had another sample at Mill Street, but at this point you start to feel better and better, and the pain seems to go away…
We had some time to wander around the distillery district, which includes the Chocolate Factory… yes the chocolate factory… such a great and wonderess place!! After spending money there, we jumped back onto the bus and headed up to our final stop of the day, the Amsterdam Brewery.
Amsterdam recently moved to a new bigger location. Here we sampled a few more pints, from a Big Wheel, Boneshaker I think, a reddish brown one, and a wheat beer. Yes by this point beer started catching up to us. This was our last stop of the beer tour, and to anyone who thinks about doing a beer tour, I would 100% recommend it to anyone and everyone! Oliver was a fantastic host and made the experience 100 times better!
After the tour we jumped on the subway (which was an experience all in its own) and headed back to the hotel and the Amsterdam Brewhouse. Bernie and Derek were doing their Eddie the Eagle impressions while the train was moving…. People could definitely tell that we were not locals by any means… We somehow got off at the right stop and headed to the Amsterdam Brewhouse. If you have never been to the brewhouse you are missing out. Not only do they have fantastic beer, the atmosphere and the food are also worth the trip. At this point the folks that didn’t join the beer tour met us and we then enjoyed a great meal, and friends, with more booze….
We then staggered our way over to C’est What, a small basement pub, which was packed!! again a great place to check out for sure… By this point of the evening we had consumed a copious amount of alcohol and were in a drunken stupper…
All in all we had a great time downtown, great friends, and a perfect day!!!
Keep an eye out for the Team Van Go urban ride of Toronto…. on Fat Bikes… and normal bikes too…. The plans are in the works…