As I discovered during my we weekend visit to Kingston Ontario, Canada’s original capital city is surprisingly tasty. With easy access to nearby farms, fresh and local is just a part of life in Kingston. So much so that their tourism slogan is literally “Fresh made daily.” Further to my surprise (and delight), this slogan also lends itself to local beer. With plenty of brewpubs and breweries in and around Kingston, including some Ontario’s oldest and newest, there is much to explore. With the help of Kingston Food Tours Beer and Bites Tour, I was able to pair the city’s exciting food and drink scene into one hell of an afternoon.
Here’s how it went.
Getting Schooled in Local Brews
Huddled around a veggie and hummus plate at Stone City Ales, tour guide and Kingston champion Jessica went through introductions and broke down what to expect from this 2-hour Beer and Bites stroll with Kingston Food Tours. Four stops that range from craft breweries to locally loved eateries with eight tastings and plenty of great snacks along the way. Although all of this sounded great, it could not mask my skepticism and prejudice towards Ontario beer. If the sour look on my face didn’t give it away, my grade-A D-Baggery of an introduction to the group surely did. I can’t remember the exact wording but I might have well have said “I’m from Vancouver where craft beer is king. What you are about to serve me may as well be warm piss.”
I’m sure it wasn’t that harsh, but the skepticism was real. Beer in Vancouver is very, very good. From my experience, beer in Ontario is not.
Prove me wrong Kingston.
Thankfully, Jessica took this as a challenge and an opportunity to school me in Kingston’s current and history deep beer culture. This began then and there with the samplings at Stone City Ales, Kingston’s newest craft brewery. My misguided thoughts that Ontario only pours watered down ales and laggers were met with an impressive range of beer. This was highlighted by the Uncharted IPA, and award-winning West Coast IPA that could hold its own against B.C.’s best, and the 12 Stars Session Ale, a surprisingly flavourful version of what I was expecting in a “crushable” Ontario beer.
Beer and Bites and History
Well lubricated and quickly swayed on Ontario beer, we left Stone City Ales for our next stop. Along the way and throughout the day, Jessica filled us in with interesting titbits on Kingston. It was easy to see the value of this tour. On top of excellent eats and surprisingly great beer, I got a local’s insight on a city she was undeniably passionate about. To an outsider, this was clear. It was the reactions from the locals on the tour that was really impressive.
“I didn’t know that?” and “I didn’t know this existed!” was over heard more than once while on Kingston Food Tours Beer and Bites tour. From the stories behind the mysterious spikes in the banisters of the Red House pub to Kingston Brewing Co’s 1947 KB3 International (aka the “Dragon Wagon”), Jessica’s inside knowledge and love for all that is Kingston is both impressive and contagious.
Of course, I could be a bit biased. I had just spent 3 wonderful days falling for the city myself. Also, it could’ve been the beer or the fact that we talked Tragically Hip and how on “that night in Kingston” they brought love to the city and an entire country. Either way, I was sold. Kingston’s history is super interesting, even more so over beers.
Personal favorites from my day out with Kingston Food Tours was the Instagram friendly Rochleau Court, a tiny slice of Kingston that could be anywhere small town Europe. It is also considered Kingston’s most haunted alleyway.
Then there is the scenic alleyway leading to our last stop at the Kingston Brewing Company’s newly renovated patio:
Although it is another Instagram friendly spot, what really caught my eye was this hilarious plaque on the wall:
Turns out I have a thing for Kingston alleyways… and so did Sir John A McDonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister!
About Those Bites
Seated on Le Chien Noir Bistro’s back patio, Jessica tied together Kingston’s history, food, and beer over the sexiest poutine I have ever seen. Duck confit and brie perfectly paired with a sample from Skeleton Park Brewery. Jessica explained the tight community of food loving people that have helped to make Kingston the foodie town it is today. Truthfully, I was too busy making love to this heavenly creation to pay much attention to what she was saying. It was that good.
Poutine sadly gone, I held my self back from licking the bowl and tuned into the conversation around the table. Turns out the community of food loving chefs in the city are as passionate about their craft as they are of the city they call home. With restaurant and brewery crossovers and collaborations constantly going on and the incorporation of local farms in a city that does a great job promoting it all, it was easy to see why Kingston is a great foodie destination. Suddenly, the free chef demonstrations on Saturdays in the town square and beautiful outdoor public market made a lot of sense.
Yes, Kingston is a foodie town. Thankfully it has plenty of great beers to wash it all down.
Take This Tour
Our afternoon tasting and toasting Kingston wrapped up over in-house smoked sausage on Kingston Brewing Company’s back patio, a local favorite and Ontario’s oldest brewpub. It was around this point I put my foot in my mouth one last time, you know, to come full circle. As noted, I was quickly sold on Kingston Food Tours and their Beer and Bites tour from the moment the first beverage hit my lips. It was, however, Jessica’s passion and insight that truly made my day. Based on her hustle, I assumed that she owned Kingston Food Tours. Nope. She is “just a tour guide,” as I so elegantly blurted out.
Although it came out wrong it was meant as a compliment and politely shrugged off. Jessica does a great job showcasing Kingston’s history through food and beer and even showed a few locals a thing or two. Take this tour. Come hungry and come thirsty. You will leave satisfied, a little tipsy, and with some inside knowledge on one Canada’s best new beer and food destinations.
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Although I was provided a complimentary day out with Kingston Food Tours Beer and Bites tour thanks to Visit Kingston,
the experience, opinions, and realization that Ontario beer is pretty great are my own.