Last year I tried my first Brew Donkey tour, Rideau Rally where I had a superb time visiting local breweries and distilleries across Ottawa that I was eager to try another tour. This time I signed up for the tour All Things Brewed, which offers a wide range in the location you visit that all deal with brewing things, from a coffee roaster, a beer brewery, a kombucha tea shop, and a distillery. Heading out at 11 am and returning just before 7 pm full day tour has two pick-up locations either at Maker’s House (987 Wellington St West) in Hintonburg or at Craft Beer Market (975 Bank St).
On this tour, the small group tour I was part of went from Ottawa to Almonte, Smith Falls and then to Perth on a yellow school bus with a friendly guide from Brew Donkey who helped to keep everyone on time and entertained on the drive with interesting facts, and quizzes with prizes that helped the drive pass quickly.
For the first stop on the All Things Brewed tour, we went to Equator Coffee Roasters. While I had previously visited this coffee shop in Almonte before, I was eager to learn more about their brewing process.
Heading behind the scenes to the back of the store we learned how the green coffee beans are roasted and bagged to be used in the coffee shop.
After completing the tour we were then able to try a sample cup of their Freakin’ Good Organic Coffee, and everyone was allowed to order on Espresso based drink. Late in hand, we were given plenty of time to wander the shop to look at the photographs of the coffee brewing process and get to know the other people on the tour with us. Both the Almonte and the Westboro location of Equator are fabulous and I adore their coffee, and starting the tour with coffee just made it extra wonderful.
Crooked Mile Brewery
Right beside Equator Coffee is Crooked Mile Brewery, which opened in 2016 and is owned by Nick and his wife along with their business partner Dylan. While visiting we were able to try as many samples as we wished of their various beers which were Highland Highwalker a smooth and full bodied dark ale (4.2% ABV 20 IBU), Druid Dusk an Irish red ale (5% ABV 20 IBU), Standing Stone a hoppy English IPA (6.2% ABV 53 IBU), Crow Castle a classic pale ale (4.5% ABV 35 IBU), and their season beer Black Dog which is an Irish stout (4.6% ABV 41 IBU).
While Dylan kept the drinks flowing at the bar helping everyone who wanted to taste all the different brews and purchase drinks to take home. Nick provided us a tour of the brewery and explained the process of making beer.
Compared to some of the other breweries I’ve been to, Crooked Mile seemed extra clean and organized which was impressive. Even after going on several brewery tours in the past few years, I still found there was plenty to learn, but it was Nick’s stories about the strong sense of community and collaboration amongst local breweries that I found truly inspirational.
On to the tough question, which beer was my favorite? I would have to say as a dark beer loving gal, Highland Highwalker was an easy drinking beer that I’m sure I’ll buy in the future, but it was Black Dog the richly flavourful stout that was my favorite. I was very impressed with the quality of the beers at this brewery as every beer I enjoyed, which is often rare for me.
Our third stop was Agape Gardens which is located in Smith Falls. The family-run business sells Kombucha, a fermented tea beverage that is extremely healthy as it is rich in probiotics and helps with digestion, energy, reduction of joint pain and immune support. This part of the tour was by far my favorite, not only was the Kombucha the best I’ve ever had but the owners of the company were so friendly a passionate about what they do and they were such a delight to meet.
In the former Smith Falls Institute For the Mentally Disabled, the no longer used kitchens are now shared by a variety of small businesses who share the space to create amazing products.
Unlike most Kombucha that I’ve had in the past that has tasted like vinegar, Agape Gardens product was delicious and slightly sweet as it is brewed with part green and black tea and is closely monitored in small scale production to ensure the product quality. While on the tour we got to go see how the drink is made and try the unflavored kombucha, along with a sour cherry, blueberry and maple and pomegranate lemonade. Each drink was very tasty and refreshing, but sour cherry and blueberry maple happened to my two favorites.
It was such a delight to discover this local producer of an amazing healthy beverage, and I was excited to take some home with me. I’m certain once I empty my bottle, I’ll be going back to one of their many refilling stations where I can reuse my bottle to get some more kombucha. For those interested, Agape Gardens also had kits for sale so you could make you own kombucha at home so you will always have delicious kombucha to drink.
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The last stop was Top Shelf Distillers in Perth which opened in 2014. While visiting we got a brief tour of how the gin, vodka, and moonshine are produced, but then the focus was on to highlighting the wide range of liquors they make from Canadian-sourced ingredients.
While on the last leg of the tour, there was plenty of drink options to try. Everyone was invited to have a cocktail, and samples were available of the 100 proof, apple pie, honey, pumpkin spice, apple pie, and maple moonshine. For those curious, my favorite would be the very Canadian maple moonshine which is sweet and smooth to drink.
As The All Things Brewed tour offers a variety of things you visit, it certainly will appeal to many people, even those who are not overly big fans of beer. Just like my first tour I had an amazing day and got to try local products that I didn’t even know existed, and fell in love with so the tour was a huge success for me. Like all other Brew Donkey tours, one of the many perks of taking the tour is you don’t need to worry about drinking and driving, so you can focus on enjoying the samples and Ubering or taking OC Transpo bus to your home or hotel.
No matter if you are a local or just visiting Ottawa on vacation, I know you will enjoy your time on Brew Donkey Tours, I’ve become a huge fan of their tours, and will continue to take them in the future as they are so much fun. If you would like to read more about the other Brew Donkey tour I took, click here.
Ready to book your tour? Here is a $10 off discount code for your next Brew Donkey tour G5K8-78DB-DAHT