The Dark Side Tour: Seven stops embracing the darkness
From delicious dark roast coffee to chocolate stouts and even a cheese bathed in beer, there are so many reasons to join the dark side in Woodstock. This tour combines four in-town stops with three rural stops, all of whom partner together to create some truly delicious products worth changing sides for. Grab lunch, a beer, cheese, chocolate and more on this day trip that will show you the dark flavours of the Friendly City.
Plan your Trip: This route is best completed Wednesday-Saturday in order to hit as many stops as possible. We recommend bringing a cooler and enough water in resuable bottles to last the day as it is currently difficult to find spots to fill up. To make it extra easy on you, we've created a Google map route for you and if you want to download and read later, you can download and print this PDF.
Stop 1: Early Bird Coffee
Every great road trip starts with a great cup of coffee if you ask us. Roasting beans fresh in house, Early Bird Coffee serves up delicious, single origin beans and blends of coffee. Grab a bag to go or a hot drink from the cafe. If the days are warm, grab a cup of their nitro cold brew right off the tap! To get into the spirit of things right off the bat, why not try their dark roast or their partnership blend made for Upper Thames Brewing Company? Full bodied and bold, we're sure you haven't had a cup quite like this before.
Dark Partnership Products: Café mochas featuring Habitual Chocolate, Upper Thames Brewing blend
Kick Things Up: Check out their Roasting Lab Experience (Please note that due to COVID-19, this experience is not currently available).
Time to Next Stop: 9 mins
Stop 2. Gunn's Hill Artisan Cheese
Where: 445172 Gunn's Hill Rd. Woodstock, ON. (View Map)
Open: Monday- Saturday
Days to Note: Fridays are fresh curd days!
Head out of town and wind down a quiet gravel road. You'll soon come upon Gunn's Hill Artisan Cheese where the cheesemakers create flavourful, mouth-wateringly good wheels of Swiss-inspired cheese. This artisan plant is a must-visit when you come to Oxford. Using milk from their family's dairy herd, you can taste the difference that freshness makes. If you want to try a super unique product, try their Dark Side of the Moo cheese. This cheese is Gunn's Hill's classic 5 brothers soaked in a bath of Welcome to the Dark Side stout from Upper Thames Brewing Company which is made with cacao nibs from Habitual Chocolate. This, my friends, is where the dark side began.
Dark Partnership Products: Dark Side of the Moo cheese
Kick Things Up: Try their Affinage 101 Experience (please note that due to COVID-19 this experience is not currently available).
Time to Next Stop: 1 min
Stop 3: Wild Comfort Body Care
Where: 445300 Gunn's Hill Rd. Woodstock, ON. (View Map)
Just down the road, Wild Comfort Body Care uses natural, often local, ingredients in their skin care products. Created in house, a spin with their natural skin care line will have you feeling zen in no time. Focusing on going green, one of the coolest things about Wild Comfort Body Care is their packaging (or lack there of). All of their containers are refillable but they also create plastic-free products like shampoo and conditioner bars, facial cleansing bars and even handsoap that just has to be dissolved in water and popped into an old soap dispenser! Join them on the dark side by checking out their soaps made using beer from Upper Thames Brewing!
Dark Side Partnership Products: Their Upper Thames Brewing Co. beer-infused soap
Kick Things Up: Check out their Solace in the Soap Experience coming soon!
Time to Next Stop: 7 mins
Stop 4: Greener Pastures Eco Farm
Greener Pastures Eco Farm is a family-run operation (as are all the businesses on this list!) specializing in the farming of heritage breeds raised on pasture using rotational grazing techniques. Offering up beef, chicken and pork, the thought and care that goes into each is impressive and obvious to see. Even cooler? Greener Pastures Eco Farm uses end products from several of the partners on this list in the day to day running of their farm. That includes whey from the cheese at Gunn's Hill, coffee chaff from Early Bird, cocoa husks from Habitual Chocolate and spent grain from Upper Thames Brewing Co. Talk about partnership!
Dark Side Partnership Product: Check out their beef burgers and sausages stuffed with Gunn's Hill Artisan Cheese
Kick Things Up: If you live in Oxford, get their groceries delivered to your door through their sister company, Blue Cow Delivery!
Time to Next Stop: 9 mins
Stop 5: Upper Thames Brewing Company
Where: 225 Bysham Park Dr. #9, Woodstock, ON. (View Map)
Days to Note: Upper Thames Brewing Co. often hosts Food Truck Fridays! Check their Facebook page for details.
Upper Thames Brewing Co. embodies local like no other craft beer before them. Seriously, we could spend all day talking about all the local partnerships the good folks at UTBC have crafted since their opening just a few years back. We're talking everything from dog biscuits and charcuterie boards to soap and their Ontario Pale Ale made with 100% Ontario ingredients. Now that's impressive. Along the dark side route, you can find a number of partnership products from Upper Thames. Their Dark Side flight features the previously mentioned cheese, their Dark Side stout and chocolate from Habitual Chocolate. Their Upper Thames Blend with Early Bird Coffee is served in house as well as at their sister location, the Brickhouse Brewpub. The soap made with their beer from Wild Comfort of course lines their shelves. We could keep going but we're pretty sure you'll want to check it out for yourself.
Dark Side Partnership Products: Dark Side Stout made with Habitual Chocolate, Dark Side Flight, Mocha Latte Porter using Habitual Chocolate and Early Bird Coffee (special release brew)
Kick Things Up: Try their Brewed Exploration experience (please note this experience isn't currently available due to COVID-19).
Time to Next Stop: 8 mins
Stop 6: Habitual Chocolate
Where: 389 Dundas St. Woodstock, ON . (View Map)
Heading back into town, drive down the main drag to find this quaint chocolate shop doing big things inside. Habitual Chocolate makes their chocolate from bean to bar right in house. They also make fresh ice cream using local milk in the summer and serve up some amazing coffee, hot chocolate and dipped fruit! A lot like wine tasting, you can taste the unique flavour of each different bean used in their bars. It's fascinating to learn how climate and soil can effect this flavour. To get into the dark side, grab their coffee bar featuring grinds from Early Bird Coffee. Can you say 'nom nom nom'?
Dark Side Partnership Products: Their coffee chocolate bar using beans from Early Bird Coffee
Time to Next Stop: 3 mins
Stop 7: SixThirtyNine
Where: 639 Peel St. Woodstock, ON. (View Map)
Open: Open for dinner, Thursday-Saturday
SixThirtyNine is all about keeping it local so you'll see a whole bunch of these partners on their rotating menu through out the year. Oxford's first and only FeastON certified restaurant, SixThirtyNine sources their ingredients from as nearby as possible, hense all their local partnerships along the Dark Side Tour. Pop in for a bite and see what the menu has in store.
Dark Side Partnership Products: Gunn's Hill Artisan Cheese, Early Bird Coffee, Habitual Chocolate and Upper Thames Brewing Company can all be found on the menu
Kick Things Up: Book your spot at the Chef's Table (please note Chef's table is not currently available due to COVID-19).
Just like that, we're finished! Now grab your cooler and hit the road for a day exploring the dark side of life.
Want more trip inspiration? Check out our Oxford Insider Newsletter.