Steam Whistle Brewing- Outside brewery 2- Photo credit Steam Whistle Brewing

Winter beer fest uncorks in Toronto

Steam Whistle Brewing- Outside brewery 2- Photo credit Steam Whistle Brewing

Steam Whistle Brewing has hosted several large craft-beer festivals in its historic location in downtown Toronto. (Photo courtesy of Steam Whistle Brewing)

Story by Rod Charles Deputy Editor

TORONTO, ONTARIO — There’s something about Steam Whistle Brewing in the hours before a Toronto Blue Jays game that I enjoy almost as much as the beer itself.

Drop by on game day and the place is packed with baseball fans enjoying a more reasonably priced cold one before the first pitch. Located in downtown Toronto under the shadow of the CN Tower, Steam Whistle Brewing is a short walk away from major tourist attractions including Rogers Centre, Air Canada Centre, and Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada.

On February 11, Steam Whistle’s Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Festival (RHCBF), named one of the top three Tourism Events of the Year at the 2016 Ontario Tourism Awards of Excellence and a finalist in the Ontario Culinary Awards in 2015, will celebrate its fourth year. Steam Whistle also runs a summer festival, which is celebrating its sixth year. The 2017 summer edition takes place August 12 and 13.

Forty Ontario craft breweries and cideries, a dozen food trucks and, for the first time, a special selection of beers from Alberta Small Brewers will take part in the event. Greg Taylor, co-founder of Steam Whistle Brewing, says by opening the doors of Steam Whistle and inviting in other provinces, they are helping bridge the gap and taking a step towards building a thriving Canadian craft-brewing industry.

Tim McLaughlin, brand manager at Steam Whistle Brewing and one of creators of the RHCBF, says he believes this festival is the ultimate Canadian experience.

“We thought it would be a bit crazy hosting a beer festival outdoors in the middle of winter and we were worried people were not going to show up,” says McLaughlin, who explained the festival will feature several events including roasting marshmallows over an open fire, ice carving and simulated curling. “But we found out that this is sort of the best place to get into the true Canadian spirit because even if it is minus-10 degrees outside you’re still going to see 3,000 people in a park outside drinking beer obviously, but also enjoying some of the great food this province has to offer. It’s the vibe of the festival that really makes it special in terms of people coming together, braving the elements and having a great time.”

Craft-beer Festival Draws Fans

McLaughlin says every brewery that takes part is a craft brewery, and is a member of the Ontario Craft Brewing Association. The event is drawing people from the United Kingdom, the United States and across Canada. The Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Festival benefits the Toronto Railway Museum in Roundhouse Park (255 Bremner Blvd – 416-362-2337 ext 246).

“This year we will have the (Alberta Craft Brewery Association) as well,” says McLaughlin. “The whole idea is to provide a platform to show the great beers and craft breweries across Canada.”

Many breweries have several different options but you won’t find that here. One interesting thing about this brewery is they only make one beer — the Steam Whistle Pilsner, characterized by a floral hoppy aroma.

One thing you must sign up for is a tour. Since Steam Whistle Brewing opened its doors in 2000, half-hour brewery tours have been offered daily sharing the story of the brewery’s founding and the rail history of the building it occupies, the CP Rail John St. Roundhouse, a Canadian National Historic Site.

I had the opportunity to enjoy a delightful behind-the-scenes tour with Steam Whistle Brewing Beer Educator Niall McCorry, a man who truly knows all about beer and the history of Steam Whistle. The tour moves on catwalks above the operations where visitors can see all the action. Brewery tours will be available during the festival.


Address: Roundhouse Park, 255 Bremner Blvd
Phone: 416-362-2337


Date: February 11
Time: 11-5pm
Cost: $30

Participating craft breweries/cideries:

Alberta Small Brewers
– Alley Kat Brewing Co.
– Big Rock Brewery
– Blindman Brewing
– Brewsters Brewing Co.
– The Dandy Brewing Co.
– The Grizzly Paw Brewing Co

Ontario Craft Breweries
– Steam Whistle Brewing
– Amsterdam Brewing Co.
– All or Nothing Brewhouse
– Barnstormer Brewing
– Big Rig Brewery
– Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co.
– Black Oak Brewing
– Block Three Brewing
– Bobcaygeon Brewing Co.
– Boshkung Brewing Co.
– Brimstone Brewing
– Brock Street Brewing
– Collective Arts Brewing
– Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery
– Granite Brewery
– Great Lakes Brewery
– Henderson Brewing Company
– High Park Brewery
– Junction Craft Brewing
– Lake of Bays Brewing Co.
– Lake of the Woods Brewing
– Lost Craft
– MacLean’s Ales
– Muskoka Brewery
– Naughty Otter
– Niagara Oast House Brewers
– Nickle Brook Brewing
– Old Flame Brewing
– Old Tomorrow
– Publican House Brewery
– Wellington Brewery
– Royal City Brewing Co.
– Sawdust City Brewing Co.
– Shawn & Ed Brewing Co.
– Side Launch Brewing
– Sleeping Giant Brewing Co.
– The Collingwood Brewery
– Thornbury Village (also serving cider)
– Walkerville Brewery

Ontario Ciders
– Coffin Ridge -Forbidden Dry Cider
– Duxbury Cider Co.
– Ironwood Cider
– Pommies Cider

Participating food trucks
– The Arepa Rebublic
– Born2Eat
– Chimney Stax Baking Co.
– Delight Bite
– feasTO
– The Food Dudes
– Gorilla Cheese
– Gourmet Guyz
– Heirloom Toronto
– Jimmy’s Coffee
– Mama Raty’s Food Co.
– Mr. Corn
– Mustache Burger
– Oyster Boy
– Pappas Greek
– Smoke’s Poutinerie
– The Pie Commission
– Tiny Tom Donuts
– The Saucy Pierogi


Rod has previously worked for and is currently freelancing for Huffington Post Travel. He’s also written travel articles for the Toronto Star and Up! Magazine. Living in Toronto but raised in the small central Ontario village of Holstein, Rod is a country boy at heart who has never met a farmer’s market he didn’t like.

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