When visiting the city of Toronto there is one attraction that no beer lover should miss, the Steam Whistle Brewery. It’s unexpectedly located right in the center of downtown Toronto, in a squat unassuming historical brick building called The Roundhouse. Steam Whistle is a little brewery with a lofty goal; becoming the best (and number one) pilsner in Canada. We had the opportunity to take a tour of the Steam Whistle Brewery and we enjoyed it so much we decided to share it with the world.
As with many great things, the Steam Whistle Brewery came about in a most unexpected way with rather humble beginnings. The original three founders of Steam Whistle were actually fired from their prior job at the Upper Canada Brewing Company when it was taken over by a larger company. Being fed up and frustrated with macro breweries, they decided to start their own craft beer brewery. Still sore from being laid off the founders came up with a name for their company to remind themselves of their humble beginnings, Three Fired Guys. Once they had a name figured out, they needed a location. They found their new home by accident one day while visiting the historical Roundhouse in downtown Toronto.
The building had been used for almost a century to repair and maintain steam locomotives, and was sitting empty and unused. Interestingly though, it still had functioning steam, and even housed an operational steam whistle. The founders fell in love with the idea of the steam whistle and how it signified the end of the workday. From there, the pieces fell together and the Steam Whistle Brewery was born.
Now that they had a location, and a much more marketable name, the Three Fired Guys needed the one other major component of their plan, a great pilsner. To make that happen they went on a worldwide search for a brew master and found him in the Czech Republic, the birthplace of pilsners. He agreed to come to Toronto and brew beer for the TFG under two conditions. First, he would require a bedroom in the brewery. His reasoning on this was simple, if the beer never sleeps he shouldn’t either. Secondly, he would only use four ingredients. Even though a beer can use over 100 different ingredients and still be classified as a pilsner, he only wanted to use the original four: spring water, hops, malted barley and yeast.
You can take a tour of the Steam Whistle Brewery every day of the week at multiple intervals, or you can just walk in at any time and simply have a sample!
If you take the tour, they bring you upstairs and treat you to a fresh full bottle of Steam Whistle on the house (in my opinion it’s how EVERY tour should begin :-) ). Then they take you through the brewery and fill you full of fun facts and information. All the while you get to see all the components of the beer production line.
But if you’re a beer lover like me, you’re not here to see hoppers and tanks; you’re here to try the beer! So how was it? I found Steam Whistle to be crisp, have a refreshing mouth feel, combine mild yet complex flavors, and overall be an easily drinkable pilsner. I’m typically not a pilsner drinker at all, and I found Steam Whistle to be very satisfying. This is the kind of beer you can drink all day at a summer BBQ or sip on at the end of a hard day’s work.
It’s everything the founders intended when they set out to make one great beer. It’s no surprise that Steam Whistle is quickly growing out of their original space and distribution is quickly spreading across Canada. If you find yourself in or near the Toronto area, order up a bottle of Steam Whistle and take a sip. You’ll be glad you did. Then take a look at the bottle and you’ll find something interesting. Stamped into the glass in small print you’ll find TFG, a constant reminder of the founder’s humble beginnings.
For more information on Steam Whistle Brewery or for tour information (including costs) take a look at their official website.
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