Off the Rails at Niagara Falls

It’s a couple of hours by train to Niagara Falls.  It isn’t a pretty journey but it is convenient and the comfortable Via Rail carriage makes it easy to add a trip to this natural wonder to your time in Toronto. Only thing with the falls is: once you’ve seen it, that’s pretty much it. It is an awesome thing to behold but really, a morning is enough.

The hidden gem, however, is nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake, a small town looking out over Lake Ontario toward the US border. Quaint, peaceful and a foodies’ and drinkies’ heaven, all just a 20 minute cab ride from Niagara Falls. I kicked things off at The Exchange Brewery in the heart of the Old Town. This upmarket brewery and tasting room is definitely a ‘start of the night’ venue, with an emphasis on enjoying and appreciating the ingredients. Try the White IPA for something a little different, a super-hoppy witbier.

While Exchange illustrates NOTL’s sophisticated side, just out of town is Oast House Brewers. Their ‘brewery and beer shed’ showcases beers like Barnraiser Country Ale and Pitchfork Porter, playing very much to the town’s agricultural roots. These aren’t simple beers though: Oast has a great run of seasonal brews and their Rural Route series brewed with a variety of local fruits.

If you feel the need for repentance, just continue down the road to Silversmith Brewing Company. Housed in a converted church and with the stained glass rose window still intact, the fun and friendly tap room is a pleasure to sit and get slowly sloshed in over a flight or two.

After all that you might forget this area is renown for its vineyards. Meh, they can wait for tomorrow.

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