Friday, 14 September 2007

Steamwhistle Brewery

Today I took a tour of one of Canada's local beer producers, Steamwhistle. Its livery is taken entirely from the building's past when steam trains were primed with steam produced by Toronto's massive subterranean heating system. The building, though modest by today's standards, has a feeling of hugeness on the inside. The solid beams are a metre thick; the lightbulbs have metal mining enclosures.


The brewery as seen from the CN Tower side.
The motards are a ruse, Canadian police ride bicycles and horses.

I bought a ticket from the hostel for $6 (NZ$8.50), and as soon as I arrived a free beer was in my hand. A few seconds after I had placed the emptied glass on the bar (which doubles as the reception desk) it was refilled. Visitors don't go on the tour without a glass of beer in hand. This wasn't much of an issue with my group, as there were just two of us plus the guide.

Steamwhistle is a microbrewery that is popular among the beer cognoscenti of Toronto. Pilsner is a variety of lager that is very hoppy (tastes strong and a bit yeasty). They import the yeast and a few other things from Europe, but the bulk of the materials are from within Ontario. Given the unusual amount of beer I had drunk at 2pm, it is remarkable that I remember any of this; most of the tour was sitting around or looking at stainless-steel vats. At the end you get to pull the steam whistle (yabba-dabba-doo!) and go back to the bar/reception/weird-art-gallery for another beer and maybe the bathroom.

006 The CN Tower, the tallest and most 70's-looking freestanding structure in the world.
At the base are Americans bitching about things; at the top is an overpriced restaurant.

007 Little things are different.

Cigarettes come in wide packs with two separate foil wrappers. When you've finished the first lot, the curiously-wide matchbook fits neatly into the space. Strangely, there are an odd number of cigarettes. I don't know which side gets the extra cigarette.

017 The essential coffee chain, Tim Hortons are EVERY-WHERE. The saturation level is one per 10,000 Canucks... that's twice the level of McDonalds in USA. You can get $1 coffee, so it's a bit more ghetto than Starbucks is. They sell donuts just like Dunkin' Donuts ones, plus spherical mini-things called TimBits, at 10 for CA$1.70, which aren't very nice.

018 A caffeinated muesli bar from the third big coffee chain, Second Cup; a cheap, mild-tasting apple variety; an a bagel. This meal: less than a buck.

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