breweries toronto

The top 10 breweries to visit near Toronto

Breweries near Toronto abound, and what better excuse for hitting the highway with the windows down is there than beer? Ontario's burgeoning craft beer scene means there's no shortage of interesting spots making good beer within a couple hours drive of the city. Just be smart and arrange to stay the night somewhere close by when you inevitably overindulge.

Here's a round-up of some of my favourite breweries near Toronto.

Cameron's Brewing Company (Oakville)
Cameron's makes their beer on site using "a combination of craft and chemistry." Go find out what that means. The Signature Tour ($10) includes a tour and tasting and a souvenir bottle opener. The Tour and Brewmaster Series Mixer Pack ($20) nets you a mixer pack with four of their beers to take home and the Tour and T-Shirt ($25) is pretty self-explanatory.

Tours run Saturdays at 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. and they like it if you call ahead.

Creemore Springs Brewery (Creemore)
The now-Molson-owned Creemore brewery was founded in 1987 by a retired ad man who decided the hardware store he owned would make a great brewery. He partnered with a retired bottle manufacturer and a pipe fitter and started making a lager that world famous beer writer Michael Jackson declared one of the two best lagers in North America.

Tours run on the hour 1pm-4pm Monday - Friday and Sunday and 12pm - 5pm on Saturday.

Block Three Brewing Company (St. Jacobs)
Open only since Labour Day 2013, Block Three is the evolution of an informal beer and dinner club founded by a handful of locals. The focus is on small batch beers so what's available may change but their flagship King Street Saison is a great starting point whatever is on tap.

Open seven days a week, tours and tastings are complimentary, but they'd appreciate it if you call for groups larger than 10.

Flying Monkeys (Barrie)
Literally the only thing I know about Barrie....Flying Monkeys Brewery is in a restored building directly in the city's downtown. They make beer there, and it's pretty good beer.

Free tours available daily Monday through Friday at 2pm, Saturday at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm, and Sunday at 2pm.

Grand River Brewery (Cambridge)
Located in an historic red-brick building that was originally the home of the Galt Knife Company, this brewery features open rafters and huge Victorian trusses. There's also a meeting and event space with slate floors and antique church pews.

Call in advance to schedule a tour. Private tours available for a minimum of 10 people at a cost of $10 per person.

Niagara Oast House Brewers (Niagara-on-the-Lake)
The humbly named brewery and "beer shed" is actually a super cool, big, red barn that's worth the visit alone; but as a bonus, the beer is also stellar. You've probably tried Oast House's excellent Saison available at the LCBO, but the rest of their lineup, served fresh from the brewery is also sure to impress.

Public tours and tastings happened Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30am and 3:30pm.

Nickel Brook Brewery (Burlington)
If your opinion of Nickel Brook is still shaped by their Green Apple Pilsner or their Gluten Free Beer, you haven't been paying attention. In the hands of talented brewmaster Ryan Morrow, Nickel Brook has evolved into one of the best breweries in Ontario. Go see where the magic happens on a free all ages tour that includes free samples of the entire line up.

Call ahead to book tours.

Neustadt Spring Brewery (Neustadt)
Built in 1857, this spectacular brewery was constructed by 40 German stonemasons over the source of one of Canada's clearest spring waters and given the name Crystal Springs Brewery. It closed its doors in 1916 but the current re-incarnation opened in 1997. The spring still runs through a network of caverns beneath the brewery.

Tours are offered 10am to 6pm daily for $7.00 with longer in summer, but tours of the caverns and the original crystal springs are only on weekends.

Sawdust City Brewery (Gravenhurst)
If you find yourself in Muskoka check out Sawdust City's new digs. Built in what was previously a Canadian Tire, Sawdust's 20,000 square foot brewery, retail store, and saloon is now arguably the best part of cottage country. The space is super cool and the beer, including a rotating list of seasonals largely unavailable in Toronto, is ridiculously good.

Tours and tastings are available at various times throughout the week.

The County Cider Company (Wapous)
Because it's not all about beer (OK, it mostly is, but variety is nice, too) why not head out to Prince Edward County this summer and check out an exceptionally scenic cidery? You can eat lunch on the patio in an orchard that's been producing apples since 1850 and sip a variety of great ciders made by the family-owned company.

For $5 you'll get a tutored tasting of five of their ciders and a little history lesson about the area.

Ben Johnson also writes about beer over on Ben's Beer Blog. Tweet him invitations to tag along on beer road trips at @Ben_T_Johnson. He fully embraces a "gas, grass, or ass" philosophy.

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