For 20 years, The Brew Kettle has let beer, wine, and cider aficionados bask in the pride of making their own beverages without the hassle of using their own equipment. The process begins as libation experts help customers browse the more than 200 beverage kits to choose their favourite style, whether it's a murky stout, a refreshing riesling, or a blend of several flavours. Once they've made their choice, customers mix the ingredients with yeast, then hand off their developing creation to staff members so they can monitor it for proper fermentation and a passable Belgian accent over the following weeks. Once it's ready, the experts filter the newly born beverage and help the customer bottle it, label it, and ferry it home to enjoy.
Many visitors to The Lobster Trap Restaurant find their dinner waiting for them just inside the door. A tank of live lobsters sits by the front desk, ready for selection by head chef Sathiya, who steams or broils them for grandiose dinners served with garlic bread. His fondness for the crustaceans is evident not only in the venue's name, but in a brief glance at the menu. There, you'll find lobster bisque, lobster rolls, lobster thermidor, and Caribbean lobster tail all arranged amid other seafood delicacies. Whole lobsters are priced according to their weight, and while most measure between one and four pounds, 15-pounders are available by request.
Lobster-less dishes, on the other hand, range from tender New York strip steaks to oysters on the half shell. The oysters—exclusively purchased from Rodney's Oyster House—are shucked onsite. Other dishes traverse continental boundaries, such as the Alaskan king crab legs and the New Zealand rack of lamb. The dining room's décor isn't married to a particular ocean, though. Its walls boast hanging nets and mounted ship steering wheels, an homage to all of the seas and cranky ship captains that supply its meals.
Sheppard Wine Works puts the winemaking process in the hands of its customers. With a wide variety of RJ Spagnol juices and concentrates to choose from, visitors can create their favourite types of vino, whether it's a Californian cabernet or a Seville orange sangria. Once the varietal has been chosen, Sheppard Wine Works’ staff takes care of the nitty-gritty, fermenting concoctions for up to six weeks before bottling them, corking them, and teaching them to speak French. Clients may also customize the look of their resulting batch of bottles by choosing little details such as the foil colour and label image. For more experienced vintners, the shop also offers a selection of winemaking kits to use at home.
Markham Heritage Wines began its evolution in 1965 as Wine-Art, a company that supplied the materials for customers to ferment wine in their own homes. In 1987, it rolled out its first four-week wine kit, a compact collection of everything needed to produce wine within a single month. Eventually, technology changed and so did the business owners, so they sold Wine-Art and founded Markham Heritage Wines as an all-purpose supplier and educational venue for aspiring bottlers who just can’t bring themselves to forgo buying a rocket car in favour of buying a vineyard.
On Markham Heritage Wines’ premises, wine experts guide neophytes through the process of mixing wines from simple grape juices, flavouring them with oak chips and other additives, and bottling the newly created vintages. Each batch of wine needs to be looked after for four to six weeks, during which time the experts rack, stabilize, clear, and filter the liquid before singing it to sleep each night. Clients then return to bottle their wine using automated equipment, label the bottles, and apply decorative shrink tops.
Both the Aurora boutique winery and its second store, the Humber Valley Winery in Bolton, offer quality crystal and glass winewear for the stylish sipper or fervent consumer of fermented beverages. Savour grapebloods from the Riedel Stemless O glasses, eye-catching wine "tumblers" boasting the shape, rotundity, and dimensions of a red wine glass but without the hazardous and wobbly stem. The Os offer ease of casual wine consumption, since the rounded but flat-bottomed goblets are nearly tipover-proof, righting themselves back into an upright position when swatted over. The glasses are also dishwasher safe, allowing the remnants of last night's revelries to be washed out simply and effectively.
A winner of a Markham Economist & Sun's Readers' Choice award in 2010, The Wine Place Markham has helped oenophiles craft their own quaffs for more than 15 years. The California Connoisseur winemaking experience brews 30 bottles' worth of wine with grape concentrates from the sun-kissed climes of the state made of solid gold. Burgeoning brewers choose from an array of white and red varietals such as zinfandel or pinot noir, pour in the yeast, then think about what they've done and let the wine ferment 4–6 weeks in The Wine Place's 2,000-square-foot, climate-controlled heritage building with an original cellar, where all equipment is meticulously cleaned and maintained. Today's deal includes professionally designed labels plus all corking and sealing, and vintners can either buy bottles ($1 per 750ml bottle) or bring their own to preserve their beloved elixir's bouquet, flavour, honest spirit, and velvety sheen. Experienced imbibers can upgrade to The Wine Place's more advanced kits for an additional fee.
The winemakers at Vin Bon, using juices from international harvests, invite customers into the winemaking process, helping them craft their own vintages without the time-consuming steps of squeezing, straining, and background-checking their own grapes. After helping guests select their juice, the winemakers monitor and blend ingredients in each batch on its journey through fermentation and filtration. In additional to their winemaking services and kits, Vin Bon sources premium juices and grapes, such as cabernet sauvignon and riesling.