Doors Open 2018!

It’s that time of year again! Saturday May 26th and Sunday May 27th mark the 19th annual Doors Open event here in Toronto. This is an excellent opportunity to visit historic locations around the city, including Black Creek Pioneer Village. Admission will be free all day, which is a great excuse to come down!

In the spirit of Doors Open, I have opened up the archives and found some photos that have been kept in our files for years, and in some cases decades. Many of these photos have never been shared before, so enjoy!


A photo of the Halfway House before it made its way over to Black Creek Pioneer Village. I’m not sure what I like more about this photo – the bicycles on the porch or the very vintage looking boys in the foreground!


Do you recognize this building? This is our Wilmot Township Hall, better known as the Town Hall. During its lifetime in Wilmot Township, it was used to deal with local government issues and small court claims. It has a new lease on life here at Black Creek Pioneer Village, including being a site for numerous wedding ceremonies!

LASK.PHO.ND.002.jpgCheck out this old photo of Laskay Emporium. Laskay served as a general store and post office for many years in what is now known as King Township. Laskay was slated to be demolished, until it was acquired and restored for use at Black Creek Pioneer Village.


This is an incredible photo of our Roblin’s Mill in action. This was another building saved from demolition by the efforts of the Metro Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. The mill used to be located in what is now Prince Edward County, before the monumental effort was undertaken to move it to the village.

As you can see, a lot of the buildings around the village had quite a life before ending up here! If you’re interested in more village history, you can browse the historic buildings page on our website. Of course, you can also come and visit the village and see for yourself! For Doors Open weekend, we will be open from 11am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.  Last admission will be at 4:30pm, so be sure to arrive in time to see everything the village has to offer! That includes the historic brewery, which will also be open as scheduled all weekend 😉


Apricot Ale Update

Hi all,

We have hit a small snag in the brewing process of our Apricot ale. We are still looking for the ingredients for our brew, and it has taken a little longer than expected. We may push back the release date, so keep your eyes on this blog for updates!

For now, we will not have any Apricot ale this weekend. However, we will have our usual lineup (IPA, brown ale, porter, and stout) as well as fun pirate and princess themed activities running until Monday!


May Specialty Beer: Apricot Ale

Our first specialty brew of the season is almost ready! May is a busy time around the village – from May 19th to 21st, we will be hosting our annual Pirates and Princesses event! There will be a charm school, a royal ball, a treasure hunt, and more!

If you need a break from this weekend’s excitement, you can head down to the historic brewery to try our first specialty beer of the season – our Apricot Ale! Our Apricot Ale is a malty and sweet beer that pours pale gold in the glass and smells like fresh apricot. Our brewmaster Ed uses real apricot puree, so expect a light and fruity taste.

The most famous royal of the time – Queen Victoria herself!

Our (19 and older) pirates and princesses will be drinking a lovely apricot ale this weekend… but what did real royalty enjoy drinking? According to the BBC’s History Extra, Queen Victoria herself had quite an appetite for fancy food and drink. While Victoria did not usually drink ale, she still had a taste for alcoholic beverages. One of her favorites was mulled wine, a spiced and sweet red wine mixture that could be served warm. The Queen also enjoyed harder liquor such as whiskey, especially later in her life. However, no beverage could top the traditional royal favorite – tea!

So whether you relate to royalty like Victoria, or prefer to behave like a pirate instead, there’s a lot of fun activities planned for the entire long weekend. Our Apricot Ale will be available starting May 19th, so be sure to come and visit before we run out!

All about beer soap!

One of my favorite things about the gift shop here at Black Creek Pioneer Village is the versatility of the things we sell. We have a great selection of beer themed items, including our Rifleman’s Ration beer soap. This soap is made with our commercial brown ale, and it smells amazing. It’s sustainable, fresh, and made in small batches… like our historic ales!


Beer may seem like an odd choice to put in soap, but it adds so much benefit to a cold press soap recipe. Beer adds a thickness and creaminess to the lather of soap, and can also give it a unique smell or color. Our Rifleman’s Ration beer soaps have a creamy feel when touched, and a lovely smell that reminds me of the rich malty notes of our brown ale but with a touch of spearmint.

Beer soap is great for your skin and hair. If you purchase natural beer soap, you’ll notice the thick foaminess of the lather. Not only is it moisturizing for troubled skin, but it is great as a shampoo! I can’t say I’ve tried our Rifleman’s Ration soap as a shampoo before (perhaps a post for another time…) but beer soaps in general contain vitamins from brewer’s yeast that are excellent for hair.

So what other unexpected benefits are hidden in beer soap? Here’s a short list, as laid out in this article in Esquire Magazine:

  • Clearing up acne, skin redness, and irritation
  • Balancing the oil level on your skin, which can also help to control future breakouts
  • Moisturizing, which is great for dry skin
  • Antibacterial properties
  • Full of vitamins such as B12, riboflavin, and biotin which is notoriously good for hair and skin.

I would say that’s a pretty good case for a soap that contains your favorite beverage. We have Rifleman’s Ration brown ale soap stocked here in our gift shop along with many other fun beer themed selections. The perfect gift for Mother’s Day, perhaps? 😉

The Story of Porter

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you’ll know that we recently featured the story of Stout. If you’ve read that post, you may feel like you already know the story of Porter. Porter and Stout have a closely related history, and it is even disputed today what the difference is between the styles. Porter and Stout may be close cousins, but there are differences between them in taste, color, and of course history. Enough so that I have decided that the history of Porter deserves its very own post!

Our first growlers of the year are available! We will be brewing Porter this weekend.

The style we now know as Porter originated in London, England in the 18th century. It is believed that the name originated from the fact that the style was popular amongst porters that worked in the streets or the docks of London. Porters, like many other members of working class England, needed extra calories due to the hard work they would undertake on a daily basis. A glass of Porter provided those extra calories, and had a rich and comforting taste. Porter beer was dark and made with roasted malt, like it is today. The dark, rich look and taste of a Porter was a natural progression from the brown ales that were already common at the time.

As mentioned in the story of Stout, the Porter style became so popular that brewers began to put their own twist on the style. Just as breweries today compete to have the strongest, hoppiest IPAs, brewers decided to try their hand at brewing a stronger and darker take on the Porter. This darker twist on Porter was known as a Stout Porter, and later just Stout. The popularity of Porter also coincided with the Industrial Revolution, which meant that brewers could brew more beer and fill more demand. Porter was truly one of the first beers to be commercialized, and the wide availability of the style only added to its popularity.

As lagers began to surge in popularity in 19th century Europe, the popularity of porter started to wane.  Clear glassware began to replace clay and metallic tankards, making light and clear lagers a more aesthetically appealing choice than a dark porter. Pale Ales were also becoming more popular, as the British acquired a taste for hoppier, lighter beers. If one wanted a darker beer, a Stout was becoming a more popular choice than its predecessor. It seemed as though Porters were destined to disappear off local pub menus forever.

Much like the India Pale Ale, Porter owes its resurgence to curious and creative brewers. Many craft brewers were looking to resurrect older styles of ale as an alternative to the wave of lagers flooding the market. A modern Porter is dark in color, but not as inky black as a stout. Our Porter, when held up to the light, has distinct ruby tones. Modern Porters also feature an espresso coffee taste, with a hint of bittersweetness. They usually range from about 4-7%, with our historic Porter clocking in at 5%.

At the Black Creek Historic Brewery, we serve both Porter and Stout. It’s one to read up on the history of these beers, but it’s another thing to come hear it for yourself – and taste it! We will have Porter and Stout all throughout the spring.

Specialty Beer List: 2018

It’s finally that time of year! We will be opening for the season tomorrow! April 28th is our very first day of the season, and we will be open until just before Christmas. Our brewmaster Ed has been brewing the first batches of the season, and we will have beer ready to go for opening weekend!

The beginning of a new season means the beginning of a new round of specialty beers for 2018. Every month, we offer at least one specialty beer along with our usual lineup of beers. These specialty beers are made in very limited quantities… roughly 32 growlers are available for purchase. Once they are sold out, they are gone until next year! So mark your calendars… here is the specialty beer schedule for 2018. Note: Just because a specialty beer is meant for an event weekend doesn’t mean it will last until Sunday or Monday! Call ahead or visit the brewery early in the weekend to avoid disappointment! 

The Halfway House inn, which houses our historic brewery. Just come on in and head down the stairs!

May: Apricot Ale
Available for: Pirates and Princesses, May 19th-21st

Our Apricot ale is the perfect beer for spring. This is a malty and sweet beer that pours pale gold in the glass and smells like fresh apricot. Our brewmaster uses real apricot puree for this one, so expect a light and fruity taste.

June: Ginger Ale
Available for: Soldiers and Spies/Battle of Black Creek, June 16th & 17th

This isn’t the ginger ale from your childhood! Our grown up take on a ginger ale features real ginger, which gives it a slight spicy flavor. This mild spice is balanced nicely by the malty note of the beer. This is a perfect choice for Father’s Day weekend!

July: Maple Brown Ale
Available for: Canada Day/Party Like it’s 1867!, July 1st & 2nd

A very Canadian party calls for a very Canadian beer! The base for this one is our brown ale, with some pure maple syrup added. The result is a beer with a sweet maple taste that is not too overpowering.

August: Simcoe Hopped Ale
Available for: Simcoe Day Long Weekend, August 4th-6th

Celebrate Simcoe day with our special Simcoe hopped ale! We only use Simcoe hops once a year for this special ale. Simcoe hops are a nice import from the West Coast, with an earthy aroma containing hints of berry and pine. I can’t think of anything more fitting for the August long weekend!

Pumpkin ale fermenting in the cask. This one is our October specialty brew!

September:  Honey Brown Ale
Available for: Pioneer Festival and Fall Fair, September 15th & 16th

September is harvest time here at the village. While we are celebrating the bounty of nature, we are also offering up a brown ale sweetened with our very own honey from Black Creek. We are housing bees on the North Property, and they have provided us enough honey to create a batch of Honey Brown Ale. This one is a take on our classic brown ale, but with pure Black Creek honey added to sweeten it up. The result is a slightly sweeter, floral version of our brown ale. Fans of honey brown ales will not be disappointed.

October: Pumpkin Ale
Available for: Howling Hootenanny (Last two weekends of October)

Pumpkin Ale is a favorite down in the brewery. This beer is made with real pumpkin puree, as well as the spices that you would usually find in a pumpkin pie. This beer is reminiscent of pumpkin pie and all the flavors of thanksgiving treats, but it is not overly sweet or rich. We make this specialty beer more than once in October, so you have a couple of chances to come and grab some!

November: Gingerbread Stout
Available for: End of November (Date TBD… check back here for more details!)

As things start getting chilly around the village, we start to get in the holiday spirit. This starts a little early with our gingerbread stout! This brew is our traditional stout, with molasses and spice that will remind you of holiday gingerbread.

December: Winter Warmer
Available for: Christmas by Lamplight (Weekends, beginning on December 8th)

Our Winter Warmer is a sign that Christmas is fast approaching! It is perfect for chilly December days around the village. It is brewed with coriander, orange peel, and an array of spices that will help warm you up! This beer comes in at 6.5%, making it the strongest beer available down in the brewery. We brew a few batches of this one, corresponding with our Christmas by Lamplight celebrations. This will be our last specialty beer of 2018, so make sure not to miss out!

So make sure to come down to visit us in the historic brewery. Not only will you get to pick up a growler of historic beer, but our expert brewmaster or one of our skilled brewery staff will treat you to the rich and interesting history behind it!

What’s on Tap this Spring?

It’s been a long winter… a winter full of ice storms, slushy roads, and deep freeze days. It may not seem like it now, but spring is around the corner! The village is putting its best face forward and getting ready to open on Saturday April the 28th.  

A photo I took of the village when the flowers were in bloom and the leaves were on the trees… does anyone remember what this is like?

It’s also been a long winter away from the brewery. I am very excited to get behind the bar again! We have a great beer lineup for spring, and flights will be available every day from 1:00 to close. Since it’s still a little wet and chilly, we are offering a range of darker and more malt oriented styles along with our classic India Pale Ale. You can expect a selection of lighter beers as we get closer to summer. A flight includes 3 4oz glasses of historic beer, so you can expect to try 3 of the following styles:

India Pale Ale
Our India Pale Ale is a favorite down in the brewery. Our IPA is bitter yet balanced, with a fruity and hoppy taste. It is light in color, and you can expect a beautiful orange-gold shade in in the glass. It has hints of grapefruit, citrus, and tropical flavors that give it a sweet yet bitter taste that brewery visitors rave about. Our IPA comes in at about 6% ABV.

Brown Ale
Our Brown Ale has a lot of history behind it. Brown Ale was the most common style of beer in 19th century Ontario. If you want to drink like a real 19th century villager, then our Brown Ale is for you. We use roasted malt for our Brown Ale, so expect a darker color than our IPA. It is a nice chocolate brown color in the glass, with amber notes when held up to the light. The roasted malt gives our Brown Ale a nice caramel, chocolate flavor. It also has a slight coffee taste, but it is not quite as pronounced as some of our darker ales. Our Brown Ale clocks in at around 5% ABV.

Our Porter is a step up from our Brown Ale in darkness and richness. It is almost opaque in the glass, with lovely ruby tones when held up to the light. It is a little bit more malty on the palette, with a more pronounced espresso coffee taste. Our porter is perfect for a rainy spring day, where you can still feel a chill in the air. You can expect a 5% ABV from this brew.

Our Stout is the darkest beer we have on tap. It is opaque and inky black, with no light coming through at all. This can be intimidating, but our take on a Stout is smooth and easy to drink. It has a strong coffee taste, with a nutty dark chocolate note that balances it out quite nicely. Our Stout ranges from around 4.5 to 5% ABV.

Apricot Ale
Our Apricot Ale is our May specialty beer.  You can usually expect to find this beer during our Pirates and Princesses weekend. Our Apricot Ale is truly one of my favorite beers of all time. It is a beautiful and rich apricot color, and you can smell the apricot notes as soon as you raise the glass to your nose. It is malty and sweet on the palette, but not quite as overpoweringly fruity as our India Pale Ale. Our brewmaster uses real apricot puree to flavor this beer, which makes all the difference.

So come by and visit the historic brewery this spring! Not only will you get to try some amazing historic beers, but you will also learn a little bit about the history of brewing in 19th century Ontario.

Hops to you,