Right by Toronto’s waterfront and within the shadow of CN Tower and Rogers Centre sits Steam Whistle Brewing, housed in a historic brick building in the park.
Their daily 35-minute tours are offered for the bargain price of $10 (including a bottle of pilsner, souvenir glass or retro bottle opener and tap samples before and after), giving visitors and beer lovers alike a good overview of the three guys who were collectively fired and then started up their own brewery in the heart of town.
The Upper Canada Brewing company was founded by Frank Heaps. His son Cam (along with good pals Greg Taylor and Greg Cromwell) enjoyed days filled with making fine beer until one day, the company was bought out by a larger brewery (a familiar tale). Following the buy-out, the recipe was changed, then the location, and the final blow: firing the three guys who began it all.
After taking on new projects, doing some travelling and regrouping, the three headed to Algonquin Park for a traditional canoe trip. During one evening at the campfire, while reminiscing about the good ol’ days at Upper Canada, they decided hey, why not start up a brewery of our own?
The name Three Fired Guys Brewing was mulled over, but a few days later, the name was changed to Steam Whistle, after the trio envisioned a steam whistle going off at 5 pm to signal the end of a work day — and a couple of beers opened to start the evening.
The idea was to brew one beer and one beer only: pilsner. As we were brought bottles of just-off-the-belt Steam Whistle, tour guide Kristen quickly pointed to the bottom of the bottle, where the 3FG (3 Fired Guys) in raised letters can still be found! It’s on all their bottles, cans and packaging.
The brewery sits on a National Historic site. After much battling with the trio wanting to locate the brewery there (instead of the proposed space being utilized for a parking garage and convention space), a massive reconstruction (one of the largest in Canadian history) ensued in order to maintain the space with four floors of parking garage and two floors of convention center below the brewery!
Steam Whistle’s been going strong for just over 15 years to date and uses three types of European hops (from Germany and Czech Republic) and a bottom-fermenting Hungarian yeast to create a true Czech-style Pilsner.
We were taken through all the areas of the brewery from tanks to bottling and inspection, while sipping away at the their solo beer success. The beautiful brick main space hosts over 300 events annually, from weddings to the World Rock, Paper and Scissors Championships.
Find Steam Whistle Brewing at The Roundhouse, 255 Bremner Boulevard in downtown Toronto. Tours start at 11:30 am, take up to 10 participants and run every 30 minutes with the last tour at 4 pm. Visit the website for other tour options and opening hours.