One of the highlights of my trip to Toronto in January 2006 was the Steam Whistle Brewery Tour.
At the time of my visit, the "souvenir tour" (a tour of the brewery, free samples of beer and a choice of souvenir from a beer glass or a bottle opener) cost just 6 CAD. According to the website, this tour costs 8 CAD per person as at August 2006.
Tours of the brewery begin on the hour. Before the tour begins, you are treated to free glasses of beer in the bar area. I arrived about 25 minutes before the next tour began - enough time for a couple of beers! With a bit of careful planning, I'm sure you could arrange to arrive shortly after a tour has begun, thereby maximising the free beer drinking time while you wait! ;-)
Brewery tours sometimes have a tendency to be boring and you find yourself enduring hours of tedious dialogue when all you want to do is sample the final product...but this was certainly not the case here! The guided tour, which lasted about 45 minutes, was informative, interesting and humorous - I really enjoyed it. As well as talking you through the production process (eg fermentation, quality control, bottling, packaging....), the guide also explains the history of the company and its premises. The tour gave me the impression that Steam Whistle has a very relaxed corporate culture and would be a great company to work for!
The company gets its name from the steam whistle that forms part of the brewery's premises. In days gone by, this whistle would sound at 5pm each day to indicate that the working day was at an end and it was time for a relaxing beer! The whistle still operates perfectly today and at the end of the tour the guide asked one of the group to pull a chain in order to sound the whistle. A plume of steam could be seen rising from the roof.
At the end of the tour, it's back to the bar area for more free beer and a chance to buy beer related souvenirs and merchandise.
Souvenir Tour: 8 CAD
Six Pack Tour: 13 CAD
Twelve Pack Tour: 23 CAD
Normally, I prefer dark beers--such as porters, stouts, and dark lagers. And I like amber ales, too. But here is an outstanding pilsener beer--one of the best anywhere. It's made in a former railroad roundhouse.
Tours are available, and include plenty of beer. If microbreweries interest you, then don't miss it.