Toronto Beer Tour – Craft Beer Meets Historic Walking Tour

Toronto Flatiron Building
Toronto’s Flatiron Building

Beer.

Did I get your attention? If so, you’ll surely be interested in this tour!

Toronto Urban Adventures (sister company of Tour Guys) hosts a historic walking tour of Toronto, but with beer. It’s called the “Beer Makes History Better” tour. This Toronto beer tour strongly focuses on this region’s craft beers with a sprinkling of local history as we travel past the city’s landmarks. Let’s explore Toronto and beer together. Cheers!

We met our tour guide, Mike, at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Justin and I were joined by a German family of four who were traveling around North America for the summer holidays. We walked past Toronto’s Flatiron building – yes, Toronto has one, too, though it’s a little smaller than its famous New York City counterpart. The first pub that we visited was called C’est What.

C'est What Toronto
The entrance to C’est What – going downstairs to the underground pub

C’est What is an underground brewpub and restaurant with quite the selection of beer. There is a huge menu of beer from all over the world and right from our backyard. C’est What brews their own beer, too. I couldn’t resist trying C’est What’s “Homegrown Hemp Ale” (A light ale that’s just a little nutty) and Justin tried the “Rhyme & Reason” (Extra pale ale with a crisp finish). Both beers were quite refreshing on a summer day. Our small group selected various pints to try with the assistance of our guide. We ordered at the bar and gathered at a table to relax, drink our beer, and listen to some interesting stories and facts about beer.

C'est What Toronto

C'est What Toronto

C'est What Toronto

Mike taught us all about the history of prohibition in Ontario and the current laws regarding how alcohol is sold in the province. We also learned some interesting facts about the beer itself. I had no idea what IBU stood for before this tour (it stands for International Bitterness Unit). It measures the amount of hops in a particular beer, or the bitterness of the beer. It was great to learn these little details that will surely help me to choose which drink to try in the future.

Toronto Beer Tour

Toronto Beer Tour

C'est What Toronto
A huge variety of beer is served at C’est What.

I should also make a quick mention that we did have to purchase our own beer on the tour, though there were plenty of free samples along the way. As for the pints, they weren’t included in the price of the tour as we were allowed to choose which kind of beer we wanted to try at each place, as well as the size of the glass. It was great to have that amount of flexibility as each person could try a beer that was more suited to their liking.

We made a quick stop at an LCBO which Justin and I found to be quite funny as we’re from the area and we know what an LCBO looks like. For those who don’t know, LCBO stands for Liquor Control Board of Ontario and that’s where mostly all of the alcohol is sold in our province. No, you can’t walk into the local grocery store or convenience store and buy alcohol like you can in many other places around the world. It is rather strict here! Even though it was a familiar sight to us, it was all new to our tour-mates from Germany.

Our second stop was St. Lawrence Market, a huge indoor farmer’s market and marketplace in the middle of downtown Toronto. It is one of the world’s greatest markets with over 10,000 square feet of space…and until this tour, I’d never visited it! I’d been meaning to go for what seems like forever, but never had the chance. It was an exciting moment to finally step inside St. Lawrence Market.

St. Lawrence Market

St. Lawrence Market

St. Lawrence Market

We only had time to stop at a couple of places within the market, so I can’t wait to return sometime to explore the rest of it on my own. The first booth we reached was one selling different types of gourmet mustard. “Mustard…” I thought.  “I can’t stand mustard!”  Canada is the largest exporter of mustard in the world, accounting for 80% of the world’s supply. I had no idea that Canada grew that much mustard. Several varieties of mustard were lined up across a shelf with little pretzel sticks to try a sampling of each. I tried the first one. “Wow…this is really good!” Justin was shocked. He knows my disdain for mustard. I tried the next one. And the next one. They were all delicious. Thank you so much for broadening my horizons, Kozlik’s! We bought a jar to bring home as we couldn’t resist.

St Lawrence Market Kozlik's Mustard

St Lawrence Market Kozlik's Mustard

St Lawrence Market

Next, we stopped at a wine stand to try some local Niagara wines. I tried a sample of Riesling and some white ice wine. Yum! We are so fortunate to live so close to a fantastic wine country that exists in the Niagara area. Ontario is home to many great grape growers for wine, including ice wine that is created by harvesting frozen grapes in the winter.

One of the wineries is owned by the “Great One”, Wayne Gretzky. Our German friends didn’t know who Wayne Gretzky was! It totally reminded me that a household name in one place isn’t necessarily that in another. For those of you who don’t know who Wayne Gretzky is, he’s a Canadian hockey legend. And I’m certain that all Canadians know about him!

St Lawrence Market Wine

After a quick jaunt around St. Lawrence Market, we continued our pub crawl towards our second location, Betty’s. This bar is a local favorite and I was glad to be introduced to it. The bar used to be called The Betty Ford Clinic, named after the famous celebrity rehab facility. When the Betty Ford lawyers found out about the bar, they sent a cease and desist order to the establishment. The name was shortened to Betty’s, though a blown-up image of the cease and desist order still hangs on the wall to this date.

Betty's in Toronto

At Betty’s, Justin and I decided to split a beer flight where we got to try four different beers. We asked our guide to choose for us and he chose four local craft beers: Hops and Robbers, Boneshaker, Radler, and Sidelaunch. The Sidelaunch beer was by far and away my favorite of the lot all day! It was a lighter beer with a hint of banana. So delicious.

Betty's in Toronto
Betty’s Beer List

Betty's in Toronto

Betty's in Toronto

Betty's in Toronto

Betty's in Toronto

Betty's in Toronto

Mike also wanted to show us a cool place on the upper level of Betty’s, designed to look like someone’s basement. You can rent out the room for parties or special events. There are mismatched sofas, beer signs, and random art all over the walls. It’s quite an eclectic spot and would be perfect for a gathering with friends.

Betty's in Tronto

Betty's in Toronto
I adore any place with a world map on the wall!

Our third and final destination for the day was the historic Distillery District. You might remember it from my past blog post about the Toronto Christmas Market. The Distillery District is a pedestrian-only city block that was once home to the Gooderham & Worts Distillery. It has the largest and most preserved collection of Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America. There were some adorable art installations, including a giant heart and the word “Love” spelled out in love locks (an expanding artwork of locks!).

Distillery District Toronto

Distillery District Toronto

Distillery District Toronto

Distillery District Toronto

Distillery District Toronto

Distillery District Toronto

We stopped for a small sample of sake before heading to the final brewpub, Mill Street Brewery.

Distillery District Toronto

Distillery District Toronto

Distillery District Toronto
Mill St Brewery

Visiting Mill Street Brewery is always a treat. I’ve been here in the past with Justin. Their organic beer is one of my favorites. We gathered in their tasting room and tried several free samples of their varieties of beer.

Mill Street Brewery

Mill Street Brewery

Mill Street Brewery

It was a great final stop on a wonderful tour. We spent about four hours strolling the streets, learning about the history of Toronto and drinking lots of yummy beverages. Our tour guide, Mike, was really knowledgeable and a really cool guy all around. We tried some new craft beer and pubs that we wouldn’t have otherwise discovered. Justin and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves on the tour and we highly recommend it to anyone visiting Toronto – or wanting to play tourist in their own town!

Toronto Beer Tour
Our group for the day!

 

Here’s a short video that captures the essence of our Toronto beer tour:

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Toronto Beer Tour - Historic Walking Beer Tour

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Disclaimer: We were guests of Tour Guys / Toronto Urban Adventures and were hosted for this tour. Our opinions, as always, are entirely our own.

Have you ever taken a beer tour and where did you take it?

14 Responses

  1. Sally@Toddlers on Tour
    | Reply

    In Australia the sale of alcohol is quite strict as well, we have bottle shops – that sell bottles of alcohol.
    I love the sound of this tour the mix of history along with a tasting.
    Sally@Toddlers on Tour recently posted…Photo Flashbacks: Phuket Elephant at the ResortMy Profile

  2. Claudia
    | Reply

    I love beer. I had not heard of beer tours before – wine tours, street food tours etc yes, but never beer. I would love to do one. Whenever I travel, the first picture I usually take of a place is… of a bottle of beer! There was a pub in Panama City I loved going to – La Rana Dorada. I remember that they offered a sample of their drafts to new customers. Each time I tried to get a different waiter so I could get the samples too 🙂
    Claudia recently posted…Where is Sardinia, anyways?My Profile

  3. Mary Calculated Traveller
    | Reply

    Tour Guys tours are the best! Really great value for the money and it looks like you really hit some great spots to tour AND drink!
    Mary Calculated Traveller recently posted…A Romantic Couples Staycation at Trump TorontoMy Profile

  4. Combining sightseeing with beer tasting sounds like the perfect way to explore a city. Would love to try the organic beer!
    Miriam of Adventurous Miriam recently posted…Hiking and Biking at Lake BohinjMy Profile

  5. Beverly Burmeier
    | Reply

    I’m not a beer drinker, but it looks like a great way to see the city, too.

  6. Anne Klien ( MeAnne)
    | Reply

    Never been to a beer tasting but id love to go to Ireland to visit the Guinness surely it would be fun….

  7. Bethany Dickey
    | Reply

    My sister lives in Toronto so I am often up there – this is such a cool thing to do in the city! Too funny that an LCBO is a stop on the tour.

  8. Brianna
    | Reply

    Combining food, history and brews? Brilliant!
    Brianna recently posted…25 tips you should know for your first trip to IcelandMy Profile

  9. Beer is always fun to talk about! I would have never thought about a beer tour in Canada. How does the Canadian beer compare to they other beer you have tried around the world? It would be interesting to taste the beer!

  10. Tim Kroeger
    | Reply

    Awesome idea! That’s exactly what I gonna do next time in Toronto 🙂
    Tim Kroeger recently posted…Ride The Ducks – Seattle Sightseeing TourMy Profile

  11. Anna
    | Reply

    I’m not a fan of beer but this tour looks very interesting! It’s true that in Greece it’s so easy to buy alcohol and in most of Europe actually. Montreal was the first place I heard about bring your own wine restaurants…I was amazed!
    Anna recently posted…Day trip to NafplioMy Profile

  12. Francesca @onegrloneworld
    | Reply

    I had no idea Canada produced that much mustard! Woah!! Super cool tour idea, sounds fun.
    Francesca @onegrloneworld recently posted…Traveling In Your Early vs Late 20s – Is There Really a Difference?My Profile

  13. Kate
    | Reply

    This sounds like a fantastic tour. I love mixing food or drinks with exploring an area. Its like a tour of your senses as well as learning about history. It looks like a really cool place. I had no idea Canada was such a big exporter of mustard! You learn something new every day. Great post and photos
    Kate recently posted…Perfect Relaxation at Széchenyi Baths and Spa in BudapestMy Profile

  14. great put up, very informative. I’m wondering why the other experts of this sector don’t understand this.
    You should continue your writing. I am sure, you’ve a huge readers’
    base already!
    caffeine addiction treatment recently posted…caffeine addiction treatmentMy Profile

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