Friday, November 3, 2017

Travel: A Craft Beer Crawl in Ontario's South-west

Cheers to Craft Beers!

It's always nice to get out and explore what our province has to offer. There's so much going on in Ontario and I'm always amazed at the unique experiences you can find if you just look for them.

Now that November is here, I'm sure - like me, you are looking for fun and different things to do with your family and friends. Planning an exciting weekend experience is a great way to break up the long weeks of winter and gives you something to look forward to.

Photo courtesy of Jenelle Smit @nellescreations

I thought I'd put this post together to share some inspo for a fun activity that you can definitely enjoy- no matter what the weather has in store.

Craft Beer Crawl

I've never been much of a beer drinker, but I do love trying and tasting different foods and drinks. In recent years, I've started to really enjoy learning more about craft beers. So when I was invited to join a team of bloggers and writers to experience some of Ontario's own brews- I knew I wanted to come along.

Before this trip, I really didn't know that Ontario had so many Craft Brew Houses and Cideries to boast of. If you're into beer and food - these are must visit locations and very close to the GTA!

Getting There

When you're planning any kind of wine or beer crawl, it's a good idea to plan your transportation ahead of time. It's way more fun if everyone can partake in the activities and no one is stuck as the designated driver. Luckily, there are some awesome tour services you can take advantage of - Tour the Shore and Ride the Bine. I had a chance to check out both of these operators and had a great time!

Tour the Shore

Tour the Shore specializes in full and half day wine and beer tours in Huron/Lambton County (2.5 hours from Toronto). You can meet the tour in Grand Bend or you can get picked up in Toronto for an additional fee. Tours range from $90- $130 for 3-5 stops/tastings, transportation in a luxury van and dinner at Smackwater Jack's Taphouse. Their signature tours give you the ability to choose the area of Southwest Ontario that you'd like to explore and the stops you want to make.  You can even design a custom wine/beer experience too.

Our guide, Brad (the owner of Tour the Shore) was so informative and entertaining. He really made the experience so much fun!

Ride the Bine

Ride the Bine is a tour company that specializes in wine and beer tours in Norfolk County (2 hours from Toronto). I had never been to Norfolk before and I liked it so much, I was literally back the next weekend! This county has so much to offer and company owners, Amanda and Susan, really give you a taste of that with the unique and charming stops on their tour. Tours are about $95 dollars and include a local pick-up from your accommodations in Norfolk County.

Now that your ride is covered, I'm sharing my favourite stops on our tours, below. Hope these recommendations help you choose where to stop (and sip), when you're planning your own beer crawl.

Photo courtesy of Sik Photography

Where to Sip

Twin Pines Orchards and Cider House
This was my second time to Twin Pines Orchards. I love their Award winning cider, friendly staff and the charm of their gift shop and grounds.

Photo courtesy of Jenelle Smit @nellescreations

This is the perfect place for a little photo op too - their autumn decor was so stunning!

Cow Bell Brewing
This is a must visit. The brand new brew house is always a buzz with visitors. Stay awhile and learn about their sustainable and innovative practices while enjoying something off their full dining menu. Cow Bell is a destination in and of itself and soon will even have an outdoor amphitheatre on site that will accommodate up to 15, 000 people! Summer concert, anyone?

Oh P.S. for all you Harry Potter fans, they even had Butter Beer when I visited, in celebration of a Potter convention that was in town - how fun!

Bad Apple Brewing Company
This was a cute little stop to check out some hard ciders. They also have a full apple orchard with pick your own apples!

Stone House Brewing
A picturesque, little (you guessed it), stone house! This brewery has that family-run feel and we definitely enjoyed tasting their German-style beers. Try the Czech-style Stone House Pilsner.

New Limburg Brewery
A throw back to your elementary days, this brewery is inside what used to be a school. Delicious beers - it may be hard to pick which one you'd like to taste. We went with a flight and there was truly something for everyone.

This is the kind of place where you can sit down and enjoy your drink with some board games. You'll love the chalkboard decor, school desks and chairs which will take you back to your school days.

Hope you enjoy touring Ontario Southwest's Craft Breweries. Have any other favourites? Would love to learn about them in the comments below!

Thank you to my friends at Ontario Southwest  for sponsoring this blog post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.