It was a cloudy day, but that worked in my favor. The line for the CN Tower was mercifully short. It was my friend Brendan’s first time in the tower, so the world’s tallest tourist trap was a must-see.
At the bottom of the tower observatory, there’s a section of vertigo-inducing glass floor. You can walk out onto the clear surface and gaze a thousand feet or so straight down. When you do this, you see an old railroad roundhouse. Even from this height, I could make out the trainyard building’s silver sign: Steam Whistle Brewing Company.
I’d heard of this roundhouse converted into a brewery, but filed the information away in the back of my brain somewhere. However, due to the proximity, a trip over was in order, and boy am I glad we went.
Steam Whistle’s business model shatters the microbrewery mold. They don’t serve food. They’re not even a bar, just a sampling counter (where the samples are free) and a retail shop, with a titanic brewing and grain storage system visible through the back windows. And get this: they only make one beer.
Steam Whistle Pilsner carries the motto “Do one thing very, very well.” It is the best Pilsener I’ve tasted from a North American brewer.
The color nails it: golden hued, a little darker than Pilsner Urquell. Present is the soapy, strong head and pleasant aroma. And the taste? A slight malt sweetness that leads into a textbook saaz hop bitterness.
Seriously, I could A/B Steam Whistle next to a dozen European Pilsners and it would fit right in the middle. Not as good as Urquell or Dinkel-Acker CD Pils, but better than Staropramen, Budvar, and a bunch of the German stuff.
Unfortunately for me, I don’t think I can get it here, but the brewery distributes in big trucks throughout Ontario and Alberta. Hopefully I’ll find some on this side of the border. If that happens, Steam Whistle has a customer for life.