First opened in 1990, the Wooly has become an icon of Guelph in the same way that the Begging Bear (who has his own, very amusing twitter ), Church of our Lady Immaculate, and the Guelph Gryphons are. I’ve spoken of the Wooly to friends from out of town on numerous occasions, and they’re determined to go there for a pint when they come to visit.
So what makes the Wooly so great? They serve only micro-brew beers, many of which are locally produced in Ontario. This offers a great opportunity to try something new and different. Everyone has their personal favourites. Among the most popular are the beers that Wellington Brewery produces. Many of my friends have been known to have a ‘Welly at the Wooly’. Try saying that three times fast!
The Wooly also prides itself on its sustainable business practices. They offer great food from local producers and vendors, several of which are in our very community and also have sustainable business practices. Their coffee supplier, Planet Bean has even been known to deliver their product by bike!
It’s not just the Wooly’s foods that practices sustainability. A few years ago they installed solar panels over the back patio, which they use to heat the water used in the building. They use Bullfrog Power a company who is Canada’s leading company in green energy. Even the shirts the staff wear are produced from organic cotton and bamboo, and are produced in Toronto.
All of these things combined are what have made the Wooly one of Guelph’s “great meeting palces”, and 25 years later, the Wooly is still going strong.
Meet you at the Wooly!
Baker Street Station
The building at 76 Baker Street has been a variety of pubs over the years, but by far my favourite is Baker Street Station. When it was first announced that another pub was going in that location, I wondered how well it would do. There are a lot of pubs in the downtown area, and the Baker Street Station is literally right around the corner from the Wooly. I’m not kidding when I say you can sit on the balcony at Baker Street, throw a stone, and hit the patio of the Wooly (not recommended, the Wooly does have a lawyer’s office up stairs!)
The food at Baker Street is far from your typical pub fare. At what pub would you find smoked rabbit farfalle, or rhubarb & frisee? Like any pub, they have fish & chips, and chicken tikka masala, but you can guarantee that it will be vastly superior to what you might find at a chain
Their bar offerings are so vast; one can get overwhelmed looking at the menu. But it, like the food, doesn’t disappoint. They offer beer from all over the world, and have a good selection of local beers too. Again, no Budwiser here!
The staff at Baker Street are encouraged to come up with new menu or drink ideas. The monthly staff cocktail is a favourite (often featuring alliteration or a catchy name).
The menu and some of the taps at Baker Street change on a regular basis, so what you get this week, might not be on offer next time you go! The diverse menu and drinks are what make Baker Street such a great place to go. Four years after they first opened their doors, Baker Street Station is still going strong.
The Penny Whistle
The Penny Whistle has been a staple in for as long as I can remember. It sits at the end of Baker Street, completing the trifecta of Guelph’s easiest pub crawl. It is, after all, only a two minute walk from Baker Street Station and the Wooly. The Penny Whistle is very much your typical English pub. The wood paneling walls are covered in all things Britannia. The Beatles, James Bond, the Union Jack, and Manchester United are all well represented here.
The food at the Penny Whistle is nothing to write home about. It is, after all, your typical pub fare. They have a good range of typical pub food. Fish & chips, nachos, and even a ploughman’s lunch can be found within the covers of the menu. They also have quite the selection of Indian fare, as any proper English pub must. Vindaloo, samosas, and even chicken tikka masala. Thursday evenings they have a curry buffet, which I’m told is quite good.
As far as drink is concerned, the Penny Whistle has over 20 different beers and ciders on tap. Here you will find your more typical drinks. Coors, Budwiser, Sleeman, as well as imports like Heineken and Guinness grace the taps at the Penny Whistle, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s always fun to try new things, but relaxing with an old favourite can be just as nice.
It’s the atmosphere at the Penny Whistle that makes it such a great place. The staff are kind and friendly and the décor unique. While I don’t go to the Penny Whistle as often as I use to, it’s an amazing place to be for the big sporting events. I’ve watched my fair share of World Cup matches there, and even though the people sitting beside you might be cheering for the other team, it’s all in good fun.
The Albion Hotel has been around almost as long as the city of Guelph. The building was first built in 1856, although the current façade you see today wasn’t constructed until a few years later. Obviously a building that is older than our country has a lot of history, and the Albion is no exception. It holds the second oldest liquor licence in the province and was the first hotel in Guelph to open an outdoor patio. There are even rumours that still persist to this day, that Al Capone kept his mistress at the Albion, and that her ghost still occasionally haunts the building.
The Albion has your ‘typical’ pub food for those who want it. They also have new offerings that you’re not likely to find at other pubs. Pan seared Atlantic salmon with lime avocado salsa, Thai basil chicken wrap, and butternut squash poutine are just a few of the things you’ll find on the menu. You’ll also find a variety of tasty curries, salads, and soups. All the food at the Albion is made using high quality, natural, organic ingredients.
The drink selection at the Albion is just as varied as the food. Here you’ll find beers like Budwiser, Keiths, and Guinness. They also offer a selection of local beers, such as Wellington, Stonehammer, and Mill Street. The Albion also has a Feature Beer, that is either locally produced or a craft beer. The Feature Beer changes regularly, so it’s always something different.
In addition to drink and food, the Albion always has something going on. On Saturdays, the second floor is packed for their weekly funk night. Get the Funk Out! has been going strong for over 10 years and is well worth the packed dance floor. Major sporting events, like the Olympics or Fifa World Cup are also greatly popular. I’ve been known to hang out on the second floor with a pint and watch the Netherlands play.
The rum runners from prohibition and former hotel guests may be gone, but something just as good has taken their place at the Albion Hotel. It’s well worth it to take the time with some friends and have a meal or pint on their patio.
Atmosphere Café + Etc
Atmosphere may be the youngest bar on this list, but it’s no less deserving of being on it. Located on Carden Street, Atmosphere is in a 19th century building across from city hall. They strive to offer “old world charm” with an impressive modern flair. The European influenced menu is prepared in their open-concept kitchen. Whether you sit inside with the exposed stone walls, or outside on the patio, Atmosphere achieves that European vibe.
The food at Atmosphere is delightful. Pulled pork tacoritos, smoked salmon crisps, and pad thai pizza are among the things you’ll find on the menu. Sunday mornings from 10am until 3pm, they offer a special crepe menu in addition to their regular lunch menu. Both savoury and sweet crepes are offered, as well as the Atmosphere Omwich. The Omwich consists of a 2-egg omelette, double smoked bacon, tomato, avocado, romaine lettuce and cheddar cheese, served on warm focaccia bread. The thought is enough to make one salivate.