PEEPS. It's officially spring, it's less terrible outside, and if you've been hibernating for the past few months (no judgement), it's time to get out and explore that city of ours.
One of my favourite ways to do that? Brew Donkey brewery tours.
Brew Donkey was founded by my buddy Brad (that's him up there!), a local beer-loving entrepreneur. He's created the easiest, most responsible, and most fun way to explore the 20+ breweries that stretch from Perth to Almonte to Vankleek Hill. Wanna know how it works?
brew donkey 101
1. Visit Brew Donkey at www.brewdonkey.ca and browse their upcoming tours.
2. Choose a half-day, full-day, or evening tour, and buy your tickets online.
3. During checkout, choose your pickup point: either Brew Donkey HQ in Hintonburg, or the designated alternate pickup point for your tour (generally along Sparks Street in Centretown).
4. For tours with meals, make your selection during checkout (vegan and gluten-free options available!).
5. On the day of your tour, arrive 15 minutes early and hop on the bus with your knowledgeable guide!
what's included in your ticket
beer samples at every stop
tours of each facility
an education session on craft beer (pop quiz: what's an IBU?)
a custom notes sheet for you to take home
snacks (often Suzy Q Doughnuts!)
water (gotta stay hydrated!)
full day tours include an on-bus lunch like a a sandwich or wrap
my top 3 tours
YEAST END TOUR, $85
Why I love it: I've lived in Ottawa for 18 years and can count on one hand the number of times I've been east of the Rideau River. I first went on Brew Donkey's Yeast End Tour a few years ago and it was a great way to explore parts of Ottawa I'd never been to. I even discovered one of my all-time favourite local breweries, Dominion City!
City Beers Express TOUR, $72
Why I love it: Ottawa is lucky to have several top-notch breweries smack in the middle of town and this tour introduces you to a few of them. You'll stop at Hintonburg's Tooth and Nail (a frequent post-workout spot with my Iron North buddies), Centretown newcomer Flora Hall Brewing, and longtime local favourite Beyond the Pale (a two-minute walk from my front door).
SOUTHERN BIER TOUR, $85
Why I love it: This tour is actually next on my to-do list, because it features beers I've been enjoying for years, but Kichesippi is the only one I've actually been too! In addition to Kichesippi, it also stops at Broadhead Brewing and Nita Beer Company (makers of the hoppiest beer I've ever had).
ask brew donkey anything
I asked Brad to answer the most common questions he receives about his tours, since I bet some of you are wondering the very same things. Here we go!
Q. I'm vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free... am I able to enjoy the meal on a Brew Donkey tour?
Absolutely. Brad considers food to an important part of any day spent exploring craft beer - and if you've ever drank on an empty stomach I'm sure you'd agree. During online booking, you'll notice each tour that includes a meal has a drop down menu: pick your meal and you're set! If you're buying more than one ticket you can make different selections for each ticket, e.g. one beef, one vegan, and so on. You'll see a little question mark you can click on to view that tour's specific menu.
Q. All your pickups are in Ottawa's core but I live in Kanata/Orleans/Barrhaven. Can you pick me up at home?
Brad totally gets that it's a long drive for some of you folks. If you've gathered up a group of friends and are buying 10 or more tickets in one order, Brew Donkey can offer custom pick-ups with a fee of $25 per stop. For groups of 9 or less (again, all booked in a single order) Brew Donkey can offer custom pick-ups with a fee of $50 per stop. Custom pick-ups are available pretty much anywhere within Ottawa city limits.
Q. How much beer is included on the tour? Is it unlimited?
Brad is extremely proud of his tours because they provide such great quality, quantity, and variety of local beers. He likes to say that on a Brew Donkey tour you'll get "enough" beer because no one has ever told him that they didn't get "enough". I've been on several Brew Donkey tours and I can tell you the samples you'll receive at each stop are generous indeed. Ottawa's brewmasters are consummate hosts!
Under Ontario Law it's illegal to offer "unlimited alcohol" and Brad always strives to help people explore craft beer in a mindful and responsible manner. All Brew Donkey tour guides are SmartServe certified, and bad behaviour is not tolerated.
Q. Is there parking at your pick-up locations?
Y'all. Do not plan to drive after a Brew Donkey tour. Remember how I said those beer samples are generous? I meant it. Plan accordingly with a designated driver, or use transit, Lyft, Uber, etc., to get home. Do not drink and drive. As Brad likes to say: "our tours stop being affordable if you add a DUI to the day's expenses." Touché, buddy!
613 peeps, do you have a favourite local brewery? Have you ever been on a Brew Donkey brewery tour? Leave a comment and tell me about it!