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Eat & Drink

The top 10 women friendly drinking events in Toronto

Posted by Natalia Manzocco / May 9, 2014

women drinking torontoDrinking events and groups for women in Toronto are picking up a strong, robust following. It's been a common tale in recent years: A whiskey or beer aficionada decides to get some like-minded lasses together to taste-test a few drinks, and a couple of social media posts later, she's hit with a wave of overwhelming demand from fellow enthusiasts.

What is it about women-only events that's so appealing? Tellingly, the drinks favoured by these events - beer and whiskey spring to mind - have traditionally been marketed primarily to men. But those connotations are changing, and by creating spaces for women to get together and learn more about their drink of choice, that boys-club context is stripped away even further.

Many of these events also foster a laid-back atmosphere where forging new social connections is as crucial as what's on tap or behind the bar. (After all, if you're making new friends, you may as well find ones who'll go with you to try out whatever's in the casks this week at C'est What.)

Regardless of their reasons for taking part, Toronto's women are sending a clear message: We are here, we are thirsty, and get that Skinnygirl martini the hell out of my face.

We've rounded up the city's best-known tasting events and societies geared toward women - and a number that are led by women or foster an inclusive atmosphere, but invite any gender to take part.


Society of Beer Drinking Ladies
The Society began when Black Oak Brewing's Erica Campbell tried to throw a gathering of female beer fans at her place - and moved it offsite and found sponsors after 100 women pledged to attend. The Society meets on the last Friday of every month, but the location is ever-changing - and often kept a secret. They're also hosting satellite events, including Bevucation, a home-brewing workshop led by Jen Shute of Ltd Supply Kitchen Brewery, this Saturday. To be kept in the loop on where the society will next convene, sign up for their mailing list through their website.

Barley's Angels
On the 15th of every month, the Toronto chapter of this international group assembles for meetups at pubs around the city, with the goal of building a network of like-minded, beer-loving women. The Angels have also teamed up with brewers to create their own limited-run beers and hosted a "beer-lesque" workshop (which is pretty much what it sounds like). Watch their Facebook page to find out about future events.

Women and Whisky at the Caledonian
Donna Wolffe, the proprietor of this Scottish pub in Little Italy, launched this tasting event in the hopes of breaking down the stereotype of whiskey as a "man's drink"; it instantly took off, drawing dozens of women looking to sample Scotland's finest. The next event is set for July 8, and will tackle wood influences in single malts. Follow the pub's Facebook page for updates.


School House Booze
The two tipsy teachers behind School House Booze, Rachel and Ashley, are here to teach your sorry vodka-soda-swilling self how to navigate a drinks list with supreme confidence. In addition to blogging about the latest happenings in Toronto booze, they also hold workshops and events (past outings include a beer-and-cheese event and a sommelier-led wine tasting/Raptors game). The team has some summer events in the works; follow them on Twitter for news.

Luxy's Beer School at Tequila Bookworm
Local beer expert and writer Crystal Luxmore is launching a monthly class exploring new beer trends and classic brews. Her first class, on May 21, is Sours 101, where you can delve into the world of fermented flavours ranging from the lemony to the petting-zoo-ish; more courses, including Ciders 101 and 'Tis The Saison, are scheduled to take place over the summer. Tickets are $35 or two for $50; check Luxmore's website for news.

Mireilla Amato, of, is dedicated to getting people excited about beer, familiarizing them enough with the wide world of suds that they can discover their own likes and dislikes. She regularly hosts tastings and events in Toronto and around eastern Canada, but next week's event is a big one - her new book, also entitled Beerology, will be released next Tuesday (May 13) at C'est What. The tasting portion of the event is full, but you can still grab a pint, pick up your copy, and eavesdrop on some wisdom. She also appears at a number of festivals in the summer months - like her Facebook page to learn about future events.

iYellow Wine Club
iYellow, founded by Angela Aiello (say her name out loud) hosts regular wine tastings in Toronto, letting vinophiles sample wines from around the world while mingling with like-minded drinkers. Their next event: A Stoneleigh tasting on May 14. To learn about more future events, including a slew of summertime tastings, join their mailing list.

CO-ED (but worth checking out)

Held at Project OWL, this series of speed-networking events for young professionals (with beer!) is hosted by experts including Luxmore and our own Ben Johnson. While it's a co-ed event, Luxmore says the environment is welcoming, and roughly 40% of attendees are usually female. Two events are coming up: one featuring Mill Street brews on May 14, and a Lake Of Bays takeover on May 28. Tickets are $25, and include beer and snacks.


Queen of Craft: Women's Beer Sessions
If a trip to Guelph is in the cards, you'll want to check out this series at Wellington Brewery. So far, the series of talks has covered beer basics and the art of food pairings; the next event, on June 4, will be a roundtable discussion with women in the industry. Tickets are $10; all proceeds from the event go to benefit Guelph-Wellington Women In Crisis.

Small Batch Beer & Spirits Tour
Luxmore is taking her show on the road with a bus tour to Niagara on June 21. Interested drinkers can learn about farmhouse brewing at Niagara Oast House Brewers, taste-test the wares of emerging chefs and brewers at Niagara College Teaching Brewery, and sip on some spirits at Dillon's Distillery. Tickets are $130 each or $250 for two.

Did we miss any? Add your drinking events and groups below.



pia / May 9, 2014 at 07:24 am
why read the article if the point is to instill barriers w
Karina / May 9, 2014 at 09:24 am
Events like this are awesome for women that might be a little intimidated going to a bar with mostly men and ask questions/learn about beer...
Society of Beer Drinking Ladies harbours a non-competitive, pretentious free, safe-to-say-and-ask-anything environment without the fear of being judged...while tasting delicious craft beers and talking about it!

I walked into BarHop on Wednesday at 7:00pm. There were 4 women out of probably 150 men. Where the ladies at?
god help us / May 9, 2014 at 09:46 am
Stick to home economics, gals.
Ben replying to a comment from pia / May 9, 2014 at 09:52 am
Relax, first two commenters. Women enjoying a wang-free evening sipping drinks isn't a threat to you.
Hell no replying to a comment from god help us / May 9, 2014 at 09:56 am
Oh you can fuck RIGHT off.
John C replying to a comment from fan fiction / May 9, 2014 at 10:09 am
Hey, nobodies stopping you. If you wanna go out and start an event like that then you have to do it. Which is exactly what these women are doing by starting up their own events.
natj / May 9, 2014 at 10:27 am
YES! I was at the School House Booze beer-cheese tasting event and it was so cool! I was introduced to really cool local beers and OMG cheese....!! They're SO worth following!
Yvonne T. / May 9, 2014 at 10:28 am
The title of this article is mildly offensive. Why do we have to have "women-friendly" drinking events? We can hold our own against men. Sure, they might've had a head start in the beer arena (most of my guy friends know more than me about beer) but I also have a girlfriend who can outdrink and is probably more knowledgeable than most about beer.

As for the comment about women being intimidated at drinking events because they're not as "knowledgeable?" That's a crock of bull. I am not a beer connoisseur but I don't feel uncomfortable at beer festivals. It just brings out the "Curious George" in me.

This is 2014. We don't live in a society where women are expected to get married, stay at home and have babies - the end.
Katitude replying to a comment from god help us / May 9, 2014 at 11:20 am
Hey God Help Us, the 50's called and want their antiquated views of feminine gender roles back. They have no place here.
seems odd. / May 9, 2014 at 12:31 pm
This is pretty silly.

Ive met some real bruisers in my day that could drink me under the table.

Charmer / May 9, 2014 at 12:40 pm
This already exists.
Just better known as "after rugby practice".
Qaf / May 9, 2014 at 01:53 pm
Why are people so bothered by this, if you don't like it, don't go. Obviously there's a demand for this type of thing, otherwise these events wouldn't exist. There is no need to get so worked up over things that don't affect you.
Liz replying to a comment from Yvonne T. / May 9, 2014 at 02:48 pm
Yvonne, it's great that you and the people you know personally feel so comfortable, but not everyone has the same experience. Other woman feeling intimidated isn't a "crock of bull" just because you don't feel that way. If anything, these types of groups just help the rest of us get to where you are :)
Jd mower / May 9, 2014 at 05:01 pm
Sweet! Now me and my new Busch/miller lite -drinking redneck friends from work now have new places to try.
Fan of Liz / May 9, 2014 at 07:40 pm
Nicely worded, Liz! Cheers!
redheadednomad / May 10, 2014 at 01:30 am
I've clearly been drinking at the wrong pubs, since I find myself surrounded by a roughly equal split of men and women (or as I like to call them, fellow beer drinkers).
FKJD replying to a comment from god help us / May 10, 2014 at 05:33 am
Home ec? Get a _goddamned life_ you pitiful sadsack. How can you even look yourself in the mirror?
Lolly / May 11, 2014 at 05:33 pm
I don't think anyone should feel intimidated by craft beer drinkers. As long as you're not drinking macro brews, we should all be friendly to one another. I get _why_ events like this exist, however I hope they are a short lived phenomenon and that everyone can enjoy imbibing in delicious craft beer and spirits/cocktails together in the near future.
Lol / May 11, 2014 at 05:57 pm
LMFAO at all the butthurt idiots
Jim / May 13, 2014 at 05:13 pm
I drowned in the ocean.
Fitzi / March 21, 2015 at 09:58 pm
A female friend and I loved scotch and wanted to learn a bit more about it, so we went to bar with a large scotch selection and asked the bartender to help us further our education. Within 10 minutes we were surrounded by 8 burly older gentlemen who were regulars at the bar, cheerfully giving us tips and pointers and arguing over such things as wether or not to add a bottle cap full of water to "open up the flavour". We had a blast, but I can see how that situation might have been intimidating for some. If nothing else, these classes give people an opportunity to learn based on their personal comfort level.
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