Inherent Weisse - Exploring Toronto Through Beer: The Craft Beer Passport

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Inherent Weisse – Exploring Toronto Through Beer: The Craft Beer Passport

Inherent Weisse is our biweekly guide to beer news and reviews you can use.

Photos by Robin LeBlanc

“The edges of the 416 are different from the centre; the alleys are different from the streets. When you walk through places that don’t fit your mental picture of the city, you create what Bertolt Brecht called a Verfremdungseffekt, a ‘distancing effect,’ taking what’s familiar and making it strange. By removing yourself from your habits and context and letting some unpredictability seep into your routine, you’re better able to see what all the excitement is about.”  – Shawn Micallef, Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto

For the past seven years or so, going for long walks has become very important to me. Whether it’s with company or just a solitary stroll, I can instantly relax from the stresses of the day just by heading out the door and putting one foot in front of the other. For travel, a nice long walk is essential in getting to know more about the new place you’re in. It allows you to pick up the rhythm of each individual district you pass and you learn to appreciate the location on a more substantial level than the “let’s eat at the hotel” brand of tourist normally sticks to.

This even applies to Toronto, where despite having grown up here, I’m still discovering new things about it all by just going for a walk and getting lost somewhere. The TTC may be the best option to get from point A to B, but nothing quite gives you an idea of how the city is doing like a damn good walk around it. Additionally, with the warmer weather here at last, the need to get out of our caves and into the sun becomes more of a temptation. However when going for a walk, especially a long one, it’s always good to have a goal to walk towards. Something fun that works as a great motivation to get around exploring the city. Hell, if that motivation involves drinking a few local beers, all the better. Enter the Craft Beer Passport.

The idea for the Craft Beer Passport is simple: $20 gets you (and/or your loved one if you want to gift it) the passport itself, which lists twenty participating bars throughout the city. Go to any of those bars with your passport and they will sell you a 12oz beer for $2 (Or you can upgrade to a full pint for $3.50). When you have your brew in hand, they will stamp your passport, indicating that you’ve been to that location. You have until November 30th to get to all twenty locations and if you want, posting pictures of your adventures on social media will put you in for a chance to win prizes.

That’s it.

Well, at least that’s it in terms of what the passport does. The thing about it is that it gives you several destinations to go to, but leaves the method of getting to them completely up to you. You could do what the organizers of The Society of Beer Drinking Ladies did one time and get to all of the locations in the same day, or you could just do a couple each weekend. You can get to them via TTC, cab, or, if I may humbly suggest my method, walk as far as your feet will allow. There are loads of ways you can get to these locations and the order you do them in is completely up to you.

Impressively, the variety of participating bars for the passport will ensure that you get a good taste of Toronto’s lively beer scene as well as the many flavours that the city comes in. Going as far East as Castro’s Lounge and The Grover in the Beaches, heading through the Danforth with Sarah’s Cafe, The Borough, and Morgan’s, mixing it up downtown with such highlights as Tequila Bookworm, Duggan’s Brewery, and Snakes & Lattes, and heading as far west and out-of-the-way as the Junction Brewery and the new Rainhard Brewery up in the Junction, it is guaranteed that you will Verfremdungseffekt it up and notice many things throughout the city that you may have missed no matter how long you’ve been living here.

The beers that are available are pretty wide-ranging and considered very decent to both seasoned beer geek and new explorer alike, with a number of brews to choose from ranging from three, to any Ontario beer on tap, to even the location’s own offerings. Some selections of note from my trip around the east end were Side Launch Wheat (A fantastic local wheat beer that hit the spot on a long walk in the heat), Left Field Maris* Pale Ale (A wonderful English Pale Ale from a great baseball-themed Toronto brewery), and Nickel Brook’s Le Paysan Saison (A beautiful golden saison with notes of pepper and citrus). Places I’m looking forward to going to are Duggan’s Brewery on Queen St. West, and the newly opened Rainhard Brewery in the Junction.

At its most basic level, the Craft Beer Passport is a fun way to get out of the house by yourself or with friends during the summer and try some beers you may not have had before in bars you may not have known about before. On a much deeper level, it is an opportunity to explore areas of this city you’ve never had the chance to go to and develop a deeper appreciation for this place we all live in…while having some amazing local beer along the way.

For details on how to get a hold of a Craft Beer Passport, visit their web site. You can either buy them online or pick them up in person at participating locations.

Happy Pride, darlings. Cheers.

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