When I used to blog about beer more frequently I often mentioned my prairie roots. Having lived in Alberta before and after privatization, it was easy for me to call out the Beer Store on the steaming piles of bullshit it used to dump on Ontario.
I probably wouldn’t have ended up in the beer industry if not for coming of age in a province that was so much more forward-thinking in terms of alcohol retailing. The love of craft beer I developed in Alberta compelled me to contribute to Ontario’s scene, both through my writing and RunTOBeer.
You don’t need me to tell you about the unprecedented devastation happening right now in Northern Alberta. You don’t need me to explain the recovery is going to be costly. It’s a terrible situation and you’re probably going to get sick of hearing about it before the clean up even starts.
So even though what I’m planning is still more than a month off, I want to start talking about it now, while Fort McMurray is still something that holds your attention.
On Thursday, June 16th, I plan to run close to 50km, stopping by nearly every locally owned Toronto brewery, from Muddy York in the northeast, to Black Oak in the southwest.
Why June 16th?
That’s Bloomsday, the day the world celebrates James Joyce’s Ulysses. Inspired by Homer’s The Odyssey, this highly acclaimed monster of fiction chronicles one day in the life of two men – Stephen Dedalus and (more notably) Leopold Bloom – as they separately wander the streets of Dublin, stopping for a drink here and there.
I’ve paused at many of the spots visited on June 16th, 1904, including Davy Byrnes Pub (part of the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl) and the Bleeding Horse Pub. I’ve passed an afternoon inside the James Joyce Centre, which coordinates the official Bloomsday events in the Irish capital.
Around the world others will mark the occasion with walking tours, pub crawls, literary readings, academic workshops or film screenings. There are so many ways, some more intoxicating than others, one could spend the day.
True to my RunTOBeer roots, this Bloomsday I’m going for an epic beer run.
Why Craft Breweries?
Recently, while running around Toronto’s west side, I passed Folly Brewpub on my way to the new Halo Brewery. Then I passed Junction Craft Brewery, Indie Ale House, Bandit Brewing and Lansdowne Brewery before arriving at Bellwoods Brewery. I could have easily changed up my route to see Henderson Brewery and Burdock Brewpub without adding any significant distance. That got me wondering how many more breweries I could hit up in a single trip.
My personal Odyssey begins at the Muddy York Brewery in the city’s northeast and winds its way through nearly 50km of sidewalks and trails. By the time I reach Black Oak Brewery in the southwest I expect to check in at 21 locally owned breweries, pausing long enough to try something refreshing at all that are open.
June 16th is only two and a half weeks after the Ottawa Marathon, but my own Bloomsday is not a race so I’m not worried about pushing myself too hard. Instead, I’ll be taking this one slowly and enjoying the broad range of styles produced by Toronto’s craft brewers. An oatmeal brown ale at Left Field, an IPA at Great Lakes, something sour at Blood Brothers… it’s going to be a flavour-filled day.
Although I’ll likely tweak it between now and the middle of June, this is the approximate route:
Some places won’t be open when I arrive, which means I’ll have nothing more than a social media check-in to show for my efforts. By the time I get to Black Oak, at the end of the journey, it will be closed. Where I’ll go for my recovery beer is just one of several minor details I still need to figure out.
What I’m most interested in right now is enlisting the venues I’ll be visiting to accept donations on that day. I’ll do my best to encourage the public to visit a local brewer on June 16th, but I can’t run with wads of cash, much less buckets of change. If breweries can collect for me on that day, I’ll transfer 100% of the proceeds to the Canadian Red Cross relief efforts for Fort McMurray and share the total with whatever media are interested in a good news story from Toronto’s independent brewers.
If you can’t contribute that day, you can still help.
Among the things I could use:
- a clever name and possibly a slogan. The Bloomsday Recovery Drink is the first thing that comes to my mind but if you’ve got something better I’d love to hear it
- a custom branded technical t-shirt
- P.R. services
- printing services for posters
- pails for venues collecting cash & coins on the day of the run
- tweets or Facebook posts to share the message
Anything you can do to help share the message would be greatly appreciated.
If your brewery is on this list and you’re willing to help, please let me know.
These are the breweries in the order I plan to see them (subject to change):
- Muddy York – CONFIRMED!
- Left Field – CONFIRMED!
- Louis Cifer – CONFIRMED!
- House Ales (BarVolo) – CONFIRMED!
- Steam Whistle – CONFIRMED!
- Amsterdam BrewHouse
- Bellwoods – CONFIRMED!
- Folly Brewpub – CONFIRMED!
- Blood Brothers – CONFIRMED!
- Burdock – CONFIRMED!
- Halo – CONFIRMED!
- Henderson – CONFIRMED!
- Lansdowne – CONFIRMED!
- Bandit – CONFIRMED!
- Indie Ale House – CONFIRMED!
- Junction Craft – CONFIRMED!
- Rainhard – CONFIRMED!
- Great Lakes – CONFIRMED!
- Cool Brewery – CONFIRMED!
- Black Oak – CONFIRMED!
I’ll do my best to provide several updates between now and Bloomsday. Please check back.