Exploring Toronto’s Rich Beer History

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By Mirella Amato

Toronto has a rich brewing history. This is a fact. I got my first glimpse into this history in 2007 in my early days working with beer. At that time, I did some work for Oliver Dawson on the Old Toronto Beer Tour. This daylong tour explores Toronto’s current breweries as well as the remnants of older breweries and various locations that were significant in Toronto’s brewing past. In preparing to guide the tour, I was delighted to learn about Toronto’s history and to explore Toronto in a new light. I was even happier to have the opportunity to share these discoveries with the various people who signed up for the tour.

The more I read, the more I find beer history fascinating. A lot of it was so poorly documented, really. Especially in the early days. There are so many old stories that are accepted as fact even though they have since been disproven. There are always people snooping around, discovering new things. In my work, which basically consists in encouraging people to discover and explore beer, I always enjoy reporting on the latest theories or, alternately, presenting a wide range of theories that I have read about various beer styles. I also feel that taking some time to talk about the history of beer helps people better understand why we have such a wide range of beer styles and flavours on the market. It also helps them wrap their brain around the fact that the craft beer movement is a revival. It is a celebration of the way beer used to be.

When I was first approached about creating an event for Toronto Beer Week, I knew I wanted to do something different than my usual work, which generally consists of guided tastings, beer dinners, workshops, seminars and classes. I knew I wanted to keep the focus on Toronto (since it is Toronto Beer Week) and started thinking that it would be fun to create some kind of outdoor game that encouraged participants to learn about Toronto’s beer history and discover some of Toronto’s beer landmarks, much as I had in 2007. It just so happened that I was chatting with Rachel Young, from Camaraderie, a few days later, and she mentioned that she enjoys organizing scavenger hunts. I asked her if she would like to work with me on creating a scavenger hunt for Toronto Beer Week and the rest, as they say, is history!

The Toronto Beer Quest will take place on a Sunday afternoon: September 26th. It is an urban adventure where teams of two solve clues about Toronto’s beer history, photograph themselves at the clue locations, and reach the finish line for a chance to win prizes from Wind Mobile, Crumpler Canada, Book City, Gelaskins, Taps Magazine, Ale Street News, Leslieville Cheese Market, and more! The finish line is sponsored by Mill St. Brewery, offering some of Toronto finest local craft brews.

While speed and strategy is a winning combination, it takes teamwork to solve the clues. No beer will be consumed during the event, but participants are encouraged to enjoy some libations at the finish line, if they choose.

Here are the event details:

  • Sun September 26, 2010
  • Check-in at 11:00am, event starts at 12:00pm
  • Tickets are $30 (earlybird – ends on Thursday, September 2nd) or $40 for a team of two participants at http://torontobeerquest1.eventbrite.com

Prizes, sponsors, and other event developments will be announced on the Toronto Beer Quest Facebook page at http://bit.ly/TorontoBeerQuest

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