Experience Ontario's Brewing Traditions at Black Creek Pioneer Village's Historic Brewery
More and more locals and visitors to Toronto are making the trip to Black Creek Pioneer Village to tour the Black Creek Historic Brewery - an authentic working reproduction of a 19th-century brewery, the only one of its kind in Canada. The Brewery uses traditional tools, techniques and recipes to recreate the ales, stouts and porters enjoyed in Upper Canada before Confederation, and because everything is done by hand on a small scale, visitors have a unique opportunity to learn about beer and the brewing process up close and directly from a Brewmaster.
During the summer, tours of the Black Creek Historic Brewery are offered twice daily where visitors can learn the whole story of how beer was made. (From September to December the tours are offered once a day). Participants can see where the grain was milled, how the barrels were made and even see hops growing in Village gardens. Committed to sourcing all ingredients locally, as it would have been in 19th-century Ontario, the Brewery will even start growing and malting barley on-site over the next few years. On the tours, participants are immersed in the world of 1860s' beer making while learning about the people of the time period. Visitors are given a character card with the name and story of a historical personality. The tour introduces some of Toronto's colourful brewing past, including notables like Thomas Molson, or Joseph Bloore, (after whom Bloor Street in Toronto is named), Mary Short, proprietress of the Wheat Sheaf Hotel, Toronto's oldest pub, Timothy Eaton, (a pious abstainer), and George Brown, founder of the Globe newspaper and temperance advocate.
"People have a lot of fun with the character cards," said Blythe Haynes, one of the tour guides at the Black Creek Historic Brewery. "They are surprised by the social history of beer and find it as interesting as the process of brewing beer. I invite them to play along with their characters, and that makes it a very lively social experience for everyone, including the children. By they end of the tour everyone is talking and laughing."
Sampling the actual beer right from the barrels is a highlight for tour participants, and there is old-style root beer for the children. "People are surprised by the taste of the beer, because it is barely carbonated and room temperature," said Haynes. "We get a lot of different reactions and I tell them that your taste buds don't lie. Some don't like it, but a surprising number of people like it more than commercial beer. They say it has more body and flavour."
"Visitors are surprised that the beer is brewed in such a small space with such simple equipment," said Edward Koren, Brewmaster, Black Creek Historic Brewery. "Because it's on such a small scale, people find it easier to understand the process."
"We are getting quite a cult following for our beer," said Koren proudly. "We have people coming back regularly to pick up growlers of the beer to bring home, and some are even coming back to take the tour a second time. People like that the beer really is 100% natural, and just like in the early days, no two batches taste exactly alike." A growler is 1.9 litre jug that was commonly used for beer in the 1860s.
"We really enjoyed our tour guide, she was a lot of fun," said Mary Evans from Stettler, Alberta who recently visited the Brewery with her husband. "And it was great to taste the beer at the end. I have wanted to visit Black Creek Pioneer Village since I was a teenager and I'm so glad we came. It has lived up to all my expectations."
The Brewery is located in Half Way House Inn at Black Creek Pioneer Village, a restored inn built in 1849. One half of a large downstairs room is used for the brewery, the other half operates as a pub. Visitors can enjoy a pint in the pub, or with a meal in the adjoining Black Creek Historic Brewery Restaurant. The Restaurant was fully renovated in 2009 and offers an all-new menu focusing on local foods and featuring a selection of Ontario's best craft beers, including Black Creek Ales and Porters.
Along with a series of special events through the summer and fall - including Field to Firkin tours the first Friday of every month through November, and Say Cheese! And Cheers events which teach visitors to pair craft beers with artisanal cheeses - Black Creek Historic Brewery is available as a one-of-a-kind venue for corporate events and meetings, family parties and wedding receptions.
The Brewery is open daily from May through December 23 and is included with general admission to Black Creek Pioneer Village: $15 for adults, $14 for seniors and students, and $11 for children 5-14. Guided tours of the brewery, including samples, are offered daily for an additional $4. Black Creek ales and porters can also be enjoyed in the new Black Creek Historic Brewery Restaurant and Pub, or brought home in returnable 1.9 litre "growlers."
Black Creek Pioneer Village is located at 1000 Murray Ross Parkway, Toronto (one block east of Jane St., south off Steeles Avenue, right next to York University). The Village is south east of Hwy 7 and Hwy 400. Parking is available on site. For more information on the Black Creek Historic Brewery, visit http://www.blackcreekbrewery.ca, or call (416) 736-1733.
philpott | communications
About Black Creek Historic Brewery
Located in Black Creek Pioneer Village, the Black Creek Historic Brewery is a working recreation of a 19th century brewery, an era when beer was both a popular beverage and a staple food. Using only period equipment and no electricity, the Brewery handcrafts the same ale and porter varieties enjoyed in Ontario before Confederation. Open daily to the public, visitors can chat with Brewmasters in costume or join guided tours and taste samples drawn from oak barrels. The beer can be enjoyed on the premises at the Black Creek Historic Brewery Restaurant and Pub, or brought home in returnable "growlers." Public events are held throughout the year at the Brewery; the facility is also available for corporate and private functions. The Brewery is operated by Black Creek Pioneer Village in partnership with Pioneer Breweries Limited. For more information, visit http://www.blackcreekbrewery.ca.
About Black Creek Pioneer Village
Black Creek Pioneer Village is Toronto's premier outdoor living history museum. Visitors can explore heritage homes and buildings restored to re-create an 1860s Ontario village. Historic interpreters in period dress demonstrate how villagers lived, worked and played. The Village hosts learning programs and special events that highlight local heritage and culture. The tranquil setting, rural landscapes, heritage gardens and period farm animal breeds make Black Creek Pioneer Village the perfect place to break out of the modern world and journey into the past. Located in north Toronto, Black Creek Pioneer Village is owned and operated by Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA). For more information please visit www.blackcreek.ca.
Black Creek Pioneer Village acknowledges support from the City of Toronto, the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture, The Conservation Foundation of Greater Toronto, and the public.