Some people can find inner peace while admiring the sunset, while others prefer morning serenity. Nonetheless, there is one thing that all Canadians can achieve Zen over – Our beer! With more breweries in Ontario than most small countries (300 as of the end of 2018), you won’t be able to travel far without finding our favourite bevy. So why not make an Ontario brewery road trip out of your next RVenture?
With the Friendly North (Canada) already being painted as a bunch of hockey stick-wielding, maple syrup-loving, moose-riding Canucks, beer will inevitably be part of our stereotype! Debatably, this beverage deserves as much recognition as the loon on our dollar. And no, we don’t mean the Queen!
The problem is, with so many craft and micro-breweries opening across Ontario, it is hard to pick the perfect place to call home for an afternoon. So our suggestion is to make a road trip out of the affair. While we can’t name them all, here are our favourite brewski purveyors located along popular travel destinations.
We hope we don’t have to say it, as we are sure our readers are all veteran travellers, but here is the warning anyway – DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE! While these routes are designed as a road-trips, they aren’t meant to be completed in one day. Take time to do something new with each brewery stop and explore the area!
If you by chance happen to be travelling in or out of Ontario, you’ll most likely be close to the Great Lakes. Luckily for you, this area is a hot bed for quality beer. Hosting some of the country’s most notable breweries, such as Amsterdam Brewing in East York, Collective Arts in Hamilton, and even the giant Molson Coors just east of Toronto Pearson Airport. With that said, it can be a bit overwhelming with just how many choices are along the way, so we’ve narrowed it down to the essential few. Whether your road trip is starting from Buffalo or Detroit, here are the best Southern Ontario routes for some delicious pints.
Almost a 200km road trip from Peace Bridge, travellers will have the chance to cross through plenty of vineyards. Known as the fruit belt of the Niagara Peninsula, this area features quality soil for farmers and wineries. But don’t get it wrong – breweries also lavish in these agricultural luxuries!
The First Stop is at Bench Brewing in Beamsville, ON. Built from a former high school, this modern brewery takes advantages of its farming-friendly climate zone with a several acre hop farm – right on site. You won’t taste a fresher beer than what is produced here.
From here, it is a hop, skip and a jump to Collective Arts. Based out of Hamilton, this brewing powerhouse fuses arts with malts. Hosting several large festivals every year, such as the Liquid Art Fest, you can expect to learn about new musicians and visual artists every time you pick up a Collective Arts can.
You’ll find two more Canadian classics on your way to Toronto by passing Nickel Brook Brewing in Burlington, and Great Lakes Brewery in Etobicoke. Both very well known for their instantly-beloved ales and years of experience in the industry.
As for the last pit stop along this Southern Ontario brewery road trip, Blood Brothers Brewing in Toronto will have your jaw on the floor. With an incredible array of specialty bottles, there is something for everyone at this garage based brewery.
You’ll want to space this 455 km trip out over a couple of days to ensure you have time to stop and smell the roses. Hosting some of Canada’s greatest historic sites, this area is part of the African-Canadian Heritage Tour, was a proponent to the United States prohibition era, and features multiple ghost tours!
Starting off in the picturesque views of the Chatham – Kent Corridor, travellers will cruise on through to Sons of Kent Brewing, where mouth-watering starters and delicious beer collide.
Next on the list is Railway City Brewery – a toast to history. Appropriately named after St. Thomas’s reputation as a railway hub, this train-centric brewery has been the winner of many Ontario Craft Brewery awards over the years. Most notable is their flagship, Black Coal Stout. A two-time gold medal winning full-body chocolate stout.
Also located in St. Thomas, Block 3 Brewing Co. is too good to pass up. Known for exceptional quality, your taste buds will thank you for stopping in. Excelling at specialty beers, try one of Block 3’s multiple collab beers, made with famous breweries from around the world.
With a short distance more, road trippers will find themselves in Guelph. Home to several breweries, but if we had to choose just one, it would be Fixed Gear Brewing. An incredible rustic and hip joint, Fixed Gear focuses on the eccentric side of things. Try their deliciously smooth Milkshake IPA, or their bright and tangy sour series!
Getting closer to Ontario’s capital, Cameron’s Brewing in Oakville is an older player in this province’s brewing history. Opening up shop in 1997, Cameron’s is backed by experience. With collectively over 40 year’s industry practice between the CEO and head brewmaster, Cameron’s delivers traditional flavours in a modern world.
Last stop in Toronto is one of the most unique beer producers on this list. The well-known Bellwoods Brewery! This two location brewery has been fighting to keep up with demand since they opened their doors in 2012. Gaining their prominence through stupendous barrel-aged brews, Bellwoods will have you bringing brewskis home to share with the whole neighbourhood.
As the cities stretch further apart, so do the breweries. Nonetheless, Northern Ontario features a bunch of marvelous craft breweries – and in spots that you’d least expect. With each brew house offering unique flavours and histories as rich as the region in which they reside, you’ll learn more about each community you drive through just by tasting their beers! What could be better?
The Muskoka’s. Remembered by their plethora of lakes, incredible lush forests, and of course, Canada’s favourite chair! Regardless of your connection to the area, mid-Ontario creates incredible brews. So, if you happen to be travelling Hwy 69 or 11, stop by these region favourites to refresh you along your brewery road trip.
Starting off at Collingwood brewery, this route features breath-taking views, as well as some fantastic camping. Collingwood itself is home to several condos and the fantastic Blue Mountain, a resort/ski hill with activities spanning the entire year.
After hitting the road, it won’t be long until you reach Barrie. Home of the ever popular Flying Monkeys Brewery. You’ll feel weird being normal around these guys! Creating some radically untraditional brews, Flying Monkeys has made a name for themselves by being different.
After Barrie, drivers will be faced with the choice of taking Highway 69 or 11 as their means to reach true Northern Ontario. Both with their own set of awesome refreshment pit stops, Highway 11 allows travellers to see the heart of the Muskoka’s.
In the centre of all the pine trees and rocky-terrain, road-trippers will be able to stop at, not one, but TWO incredible breweries on a single street. Both Sawdust City Brewing and Muskoka Brewery take resident in this beer haven of cottage country. Both fantastic in their own way, however, if you’re looking for something special, Sawdust has a food truck out-front with ridiculously good food pairings. Bring it right into the brewery if you want!
Trekking further north, this brewery adventure finds refuge at Highlander Brew Co. Just 5 minutes off of Highway 11 and 20 minutes away from Mikisew Provincial Park, Highlander is a perfect stop to get out and enjoy Canadian nature.
Soon your road trip will cross Highway 17 – a large portion of the Trans-Canada Highway stretching the entirety of Ontario. Connecting with Highway 11 in North Bay, trippers will be able to have a rest in the “Gateway of Northern Ontario”. Home to three breweries, if you can only see one, we recommend Gateway City Brewery.
The last stop in Northern Ontario is in Nickel City. Stack Brewing – aptly named after the mining smoke stack that gave Sudbury its reputation, has been growing the Northern craft scene since 2013. Recently expanding to a second location, Stack Brewing gives you the chance to chow down on stupendous food at their new brewpub while refreshing your pallet with award winning brews.
East to West… And Maybe Back Again
Since this tour is a biggie, you’ll for sure want to make plenty of pit stops. Spanning an incredible 2,085 km, you can start at either end! This cross – Ontario road trip is designed for those travelling all of Canada and don’t want cross the Sault St Marie border.
If you start in the East your first destination will be the Beau’s Brewing owned Halcyon Barrel House. This beautifully special brewery is only focused on manufacturing barrel-aged beers. With all of their releases praised as hits, you’ll need a bag to bring all the extra bottles back home with you.
Next up is Dominion City Brewing right in the capital of Canada! Relatively new players in the area, Dominion City has quickly built a reputation for being an artisanal powerhouse. About to reach their 5th year anniversary, enjoy this quality brewery right near the highway.
Running parallel with the Ottawa River, road trippers will soon visit Whitewater Brewing Co. Founded by three friends with a passion for locally sourced ingredients, this brewery has a passion for sustainability.
Travelling the Trans-Canada Highway features several beautiful lakes and quaint communities. And just at the Gateway to the North, you’ll also find a beautiful and quaint brewery to match! Right in the centre of North Bay, New Ontario Brewing Co. will make a fantastic Ontario road trip destination.
From here, you’ll have to hold in your love of the suds, as it is a bit of trek to get to the next destination. Nonetheless, you will be greeted with open arms at Full Beard Brewing in Timmins. This insanely friendly-Canadian stereotyped brewery can be spotted at events across all of Northern Ontario, so you’re sure to see them more than once!
As brewery stops spread further apart, so do the lakes! Located at the head of the world’s largest fresh water lake, Sleeping Giant Brewery gains inspiration from the sheer size of Lake Superior.
Finishing up this provincial brewery road trip is Lake of the Woods Brewing Co. With locations on both sides of the border, Ontario is proud to have the original. Located in a 105 year-old fire hall, beer lovers can enjoy a piece of history drinking in the Kenora based brew house.
So there you have it. No matter where your Ontario travels might take you, we have a brewery road trip to go along with it! These choices weren’t easy to make, and with any road trip, alternatives can substituted for preferences. But nevertheless, these suggestions can act as a raft in navigating the rampant waters that is Ontario’s craft brewery scene.
Please let us know if there are any favourites you would add to any one of our Ontario Brewery Road Trips. We love trying new beers and look forward to what new breweries bring to the industry!