It’s no secret that one of our favourite things to talk about is beer. From our beer Pinterest board to our regular beer features on the blog to our many beer tours, it’s safe to say we’re a little obsessed!
Recently, we asked some of our local guides to tell us all about their favourite local beer, including what locals love to drink, the best beer festivals and events in their city, and whether they can pick a favourite brewery in their city. With responses from Toronto, San Jose, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Prague, here’s what they had to say about beer in their hometowns.
WHERE TO DRINK
According to Jason in Philadelphia, “beer is the healthiest and most productive obsession we have in Philly”. Their favourite local breweries include Yards, which has free beer tours on the weekends, Nodding Head, which they recommend to visit whenever they have Philly Phunk – beer fermented in a red wine oak cask, and Philadelphia Brewing Company, an historic pre-prohibition brewery that runs free tours.
In Toronto, both Mill St. and Steamwhistle are popular breweries. Both offer tours of the facilities (if you go to Steamwhistle, ask for Francis as your guide), and are housed in really need locations. At Mill St, be sure to check out the growlers (big brown bottles) in the retail shop for some unique beers to take home with you. There are also four award-winning beers on tap to sample free of charge! Steamwhistle also does free samples and has a great retail boutique. Bellwoods Brewery is also an ideal spot to grab some delicious local brews and yummy food.
In Prague, our favourite brewery is off-the-beaten-tap (see what we did there?!). It’s an authentic Czech pub called Zly Casy (which translates to ‘bad times’). Don’t be fooled – it’s actually wonderful. About 90% full of locals (the occasional expat and tourist manages to find their way here), they have over 40 beers on tap, mostly from Czech microbreweries.
If you’re in San Francisco, it’s gotta be Lagunitas, just north of SF in the small town of Petaluma. We love to head up there for a sunny afternoon with friends (and dogs!) in the Tap Room or Beer Sanctuary, listening to live local music, eating great food, and sampling their well-respected craft beers.
And in San Jose, Costa Rica, La Bodega de Chema is the spot – here you can find at least 30 different types of beer, most of which are craft beers and available on draft. Stiefel Pub is also an excellent choice for sampling some of Costa Rica’s growing craft brews.
WHEN TO DRINK (aside from anytime)
When it comes to events and festivals, it seems like there are plenty around the world to keep us beer lovers full and happy. Toronto has a Beer Week in September that includes a beer-related scavenger hunt race throughout the city, as well as Cask Days in October, featuring over 120 Canadian microbreweries.
San Francisco has its own “Meet the Brewers” weekend featuring local breweries from the Bay Area, and San Jose has its own Oktoberfest on Avenida Escazu, but Philadelphia’s ten-day Philly Beer Week (late May – early June) seems like it just might take the cake, with hundreds of festivals, dinners, pub crawls, tours, tastings, and meet-the-brewer nights.
Oh, and in Prague, it’s always beer festival time! That’s just called everyday life! As the world’s number one consumer of beer, it’s just what happens here in the Czech Republic.
WHAT TO DRINK
In San Francisco, grab a Lagunitas IPA or Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’, and if the Giants are playing, head to The Irish Bank down in Union Square (it’s hidden down an alley, so keep your eyes peeled!).
In Toronto, among those in the know (the beer know), local craft beers are quite popular, including Denison’s Weissbier, Muskoka Brewery’s Mad Tom IPA, Kensington Brewing Company’s Augusta Ale, and of course, Steamwhistle and Mill St, all of which are best consumed at places like C’est What, Tequila Bookworm, and barvolo (which also has an amazing cask selection).
To get the local look in Philadelphia, find whatever is local and seasonal, and you’ll fit right in. A seasonal sampling includes: Yards’ Love Stout and Philly Brewing Co’s Joe Coffee Porter in the winter; Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA and Nodding Head Saison in the spring; Victory Kolsch and Flying Fish Farmhouse Summer in the summer; Sly Fox Oktoberfest in early fall; Neshaminy Creek Punkel Dunkel for pumpkin season; Troegs Mad Elf for the holidays. Phew!
What’s your favourite beer city?