Ontario microbreweries just beyond the city limits

Whether you’re heading north, east, south or west from Toronto, chances are you’ll pass by one of the province’s top-grade microbreweries with two-litre growlers, 500 ml bottles and kegs to-go on offer. You may have tried a tasty selection from an Ontario brewery at a Toronto craft beer bar, but the on-site bottle shops are well known to be the spots for trying rare and intriguing flavours that won’t make it to Toronto proper.

Wellington County Brewery

950 Woodlawn Rd W, Guelph, ON N1K 1G2

You’ve likely noticed Wellington’s rubber boot moniker attached to a tap at one of your favourite Toronto brew pubs, spouting the microbrewery’s delicious pale ale or witbier. But if you find yourself in Guelph, jump on the guided samplings that run every Saturday. The veteran brewmasters at Wellington have been developing their frothy fermentations since 1985, which in craft history time is practically BC era. Discover the story over a pint in the taproom (complete with huge oak bar and fireplace), or pick up a few bottles at the attached retail shop, open seven days a week.

Lake Of Bays Brewing Company

2681 Muskoka Rd 117, Baysville, ON P0B 1A0

If you’re brewery-hopping around Muskoka this summer (the region hosts several of Ontario’s beloved craft brewers), be sure to stop in at Lake of Bays. First off, the sight is beautiful: a modern lodge of pine wood with firetruck-red accents for a distinct Canadiana aesthetic (a beer garden with colourful Muskoka chairs and replica of AJ Casson’s Country Road complete the look). But design aside, stop into the bottle shop for some award-winning takeaways, whether it be the stag-inspired 10 Point IPA or a few one-off beers from the seasonal Wild North series.

Cameron's Brewing Company

1165 Invicta Dr, Oakville, ON L6H 4M1

Make the short drive out to Oakville for a tour and tasting, plus a trip through the retail bottle shop of this craft microbrewery. $10 will get you an informative walk-through and a chance to sample some of the seasonal offerings, though you may want to take home a mixer pack of four craft beers via the $20 tour. After the tasting, check out the bottle shop where you can pick up specialty options like the California Sunshine APA or the Obsidian Imperial Porter, aged in Caribbean rum barrels.

Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery

105 Dunlop St E, Barrie, ON L4M 1A6

Three words: Chocolate. Milk. Stout. With a tagline, “Normal is weird,” this Barrie microbrewery will make you understand just how far the boundaries of great beer can go. Only a quick turnoff on the drive to virtually any cottage up the 400, the brewery offers free tours and samplings daily, plus an easy-to-browse bottle shop. Learn the histories of the colourful cans that have become ubiquitous across Ontario LCBOs (the Hoptical Illusion is probably most well known), or take a risk on a seasonal or one-off like the Super Collidero 2.0 Double IPA or the Hibiscus Pale Lager.

Creemore Springs Brewery Ltd

139 Mill St, Creemore, ON L0M 1G0

One of Ontario’s most revered breweries is just 20 or so minutes off the beaten track on your way up to Collingwood or the Bruce Peninsula. Not only does this brewery and bottle shop host the iconic Creemore lager and cream ale — alongside specialty offerings like the Hoppy Hefeweizen, a German Weizen beer meets an American Pale Ale, or the Lot9 Czech Pilsner — but it also offers a 2015-new beer garden that provides the cottage-level patio vibes.

Side Launch Brewing Company

200 Mountain Rd, Collingwood, ON L9Y 4V5

Named for a bizarre Collingwood tradition of a sideways-launching ship in the region’s historical shipyards, this microbrewery’s decorated brews are well known across Toronto: the authentic Bavarian-style wheat beer (yellow can), the balanced pale ale (blue can) and the Munich-style dark lager (grey can). If you’re passing through on your way to a cottage or ski trip, stop in and pick up a flat of 'em, or a few growlers for an awesome host’s gift or treat for yourself.

Sawdust City Brewing Co

397 Muskoka Rd N, Gravenhurst, ON P1P 1G3

This Muskoka microbrewery calls its taproom The Saloon for its rustic Canadian feel (it was constructed from a 100-year-old naturally felled pine tree), live music and, of course, its beer-centric menu. The spot keeps locals coming back with specialty food pairing nights and cask tappings where beer-lovers can try the seasonal specials and one-off brews that won’t ever find their way to bars or liquor stores. Like what you taste? Stop in to the retail shop and pick up some of your fave saison or stout to go.

Block Three

If you’re heading toward Sarnia, London or Kitchener-Waterloo, pop off the 401 for a quick stop in St. Jacobs, because this rustic Mennonite-inspired microbrewery is worth the turnoff. Hardwood communal tables and hanging lights made from old mason jars create the vibes at this romantic brew pub, while the bottle shop hosts such intriguingly named libations as the Kamikaze Monk, a Belgian saison made with Japanese Sorachi Ace hop. Those with something darker in mind might be more inclined to try a few bottles of the hints-of-chocolate Frankenstout. Tours and tastings are, conveniently, free of charge.

From second-storey terraces to canopy-covered courtyards, 2016 has been a good year for Toronto’s patio game. We’ve got the goods on the brand-new brewery on Roncesvalles and the Lakeshore’s most recent party-worthy spot. East to west, these resto-bar newcomers have created inspired outdoor spaces so you can start patio season off right. [Image credit: iStock.com/Sean Pavone] 
Looking for a bleach alternative that isn’t terrifying? Maybe an all-purpose cleaner that won’t make you bat an eye when you find your toddler licking the countertop? There’s no doubt that the demand for all-natural, biodegradable, and chemical-free cleaning products is on the rise in TO. Lucky for us, the city is home to countless markets and shops with a ton of sustainable goods on offer.
We know, we know. Trying to find something excellent for your best pal while staying within the agreed-upon budget is just a big ol’ holiday can of worms. Lucky for us, Toronto is stocked with affordable and locally made treasures that cater to just about any hobby or taste. For this year’s gift exchange, check out these general stores, vintage spots, and specialty boutiques. [Photo courtesy of Northwood General]
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