Whether you’re heading out of the city for a quick day trip or a week-long getaway, a much anticipated #roadtrip always brings with it an air of excitement. And when your getaway involves sampling craft beer, cider, and wine in scenic small towns…well, this brings a whole new level of excitement to the table.
Sampling craft drinks near Toronto is the perfect way to meet the makers, and get the inside story on what inspires them to make and sell their product. Oh, and let’s not forget sampling delicious brews at the same time (it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it)!
The opening of a new craft brewery in Madoc seemed like the perfect opportunity to get out and tour the craft drink producers in Hastings County, of which there are many. With destinations spanning from Tweed to Madoc, and Bancroft, only a couple of hours outside of Toronto, we knew before we set out that we were embarking on an unforgettable road trip.
Just as expected, the adventure was full of opportunities to meet new people, make new discoveries, and yes, we did “force” ourselves to sample some delicious craft drinks along the way. Read on to discover the best craft drinks near Toronto.
In a world where craft breweries are all the rage, 7/62 Craft Brewers’ owner, Scott Williams decided the only way to stand out from the crowd was to not stand out – to take brewing beer back to its basics and simply brew good beer. There are no flavourful twists to be found here. In other words, you won’t see a raspberry-infused, or grapefruit-flavoured brew on the menu at their taproom and retail store. Their beers are simple and straightforward – they are literally producing “simply good beer.”
If you’re wondering about the story behind the name 7/62 (I was!) it’s a fun story: the brewery is named for its location at the crossroads of Highway 7 and 62, historic travelling roads that have been leading visitors to the small town of Madoc for over a hundred years. There are plenty of other historical touches in the taproom, which are also mirrored in their traditional brewing style. Stop by 7/62 and try their loaded charcuterie board, paired with one of their beer flights and see for yourself how their brewing philosophy plays out in real life.
Don’t miss: Try their Little Irish Red, a creation that happened by accident, but was a pleasant surprise. At less than four per cent alcohol by volume, this brew qualifies as a light beer but brings with it a rich, deep flavour that makes it unlike any other light beer you’ve ever tried (promise!).
Who would have thought the small community of Tweed would be home to an international award-winning winery producing premium wines? After two decades in the making, Potter Settlement is making waves in the wine world, pioneering wine production from Marquette and Frontenac grapes, and winning awards for exceptional quality wines.
It wasn’t by chance that owner Sandor Johnson founded his winery in Hastings County, a region known for its unusual mineral content in the soil. It’s the soil’s very uniqueness that contributes to the rich flavour profiles found in wines grown here. Visit the Tweed area vineyard and learn all about their many awards, tour the winery and experience wines that will make you feel like a true sommelier.
Don’t miss: Try their Pinot Noir Rosé, which is made from a single grape varietal, or another one of their award-winning wines like the Marquette. Check out their fun wine cellar, a set of bespoke doors that make the perfect backdrop for a snapshot.
If you’re a fan of English and German brews, but aren’t into travelling across the ocean to find them, you’re in luck. Bancroft Brewing Co. has combined brewing traditions from these two regions, and then added some twists to keep things interesting. This is another brewery dedicated to producing truly excellent beer, without a lot of gimmicks.
It could be the minerals in the spring water they use to brew their beer, or it could come down to a determination to produce the highest quality product possible, but either way Bancroft Brewing has mastered the art of making beer. Drop by their tasting room and sample a flight to see for yourself how they are elevating the brewery scene in Ontario.
Don’t miss: Hmm…so many good beers to suggest it’s hard to pick just one or two! The Prospector Ale is made using English and German malts and English hops for a unique take on an English pale ale.
Ah, cider! I left this one for last, but it’s definitely not least. In the craft alcohol world, cider is an old favourite making a heavy come back these days. In Hastings County, the award-winning Kings Mill Cider is elevating cider making to an art form. Here, Kees Morsink and his wife, Margaret Van Helvoort have spent the last six years perfecting their cider recipes to produce the highest quality of light, refreshing ciders.
The story goes even further back than six years – Morsink himself has been making cider for more than 30 years, and studied the intricacies of the craft at Cornell University. Stop by their super cute tasting room and sample one (or all) of their cider varieties, each more delicious than the last. From still to carbonated, and from sweet to dry, Kings Mill has the cider of your apple dreams.
Don’t miss: Ask to sample their mallo-fermented “scrumpy” cider for a deeper exploration of everything that cider can be. I loved their Russett cider, which features a delightful citrus-y flavour that’s a natural consequence of the fermentation process, and a pleasant surprise.