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15 Great Places To Drink Craft Beer, May 2014

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As craft beer has moved from novelty to ubiquity, the list of good places to find it has grown from a handful of destinations to the point where every neighbourhood has its own local joint. Those who are new to craft beer can understandably find themselves overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of selection so it definitely helps to have an experienced guide. Also, because good beer has more to it than fizz, booze, and a weak corny sweetness, it needs to be treated and served with some degree of expert care. Here, in no particular order, are the fifteen places in Toronto that have a noteworthy selection, can help you find your way through it, and will pour your selected brew in a way that shows it at its best. — David Ort


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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. barVolo

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587 Yonge St, Toronto
ON M4Y 1Z4, Canada
(416) 928-0008
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The long list at this Yonge and Wellesley institution usually features a few well-made standbys, complemented by more than twenty niche one-offs and cask options. Their IPA challenge, Zwanze Day participation, and the off-site Cask Days festival are all world-class events. Add a well-situated (if small) patio with a great view of Yonge Street and you have a top-notch aficianados' bar.

2. Bar Hop

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391 King Street West, Toronto
ON M5V 1K1, Canada
(647) 352-7476
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Evidence runs deep that Rob Pingitore and his team pay very careful attention to selecting the world's finest. Both special releases from Ontario breweries and international cult favourites, clearly, are chosen for quality and consistency rather novelty. A paddle of their small-size samples is one of the best ways in Toronto to expand your familiarity with different beer styles.

3. WVRST

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609 King St. W, Toronto
ON M5V 1M5, Canada
(416) 703-7775
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There is nothing small or niche about WVRST, but that makes their attention to detail, consistency, and staff education all the more impressive. The no-nonsense food menu, built around an impressive list of sausages lets their varied list of Ontario and European gems shine in one of King West's most convivial spaces.

4. Indie Alehouse

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2876 Dundas St. W, Toronto
ON M6P 1Y9, Canada
(416) 760-9691
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With a bottle shop to sell their brews and special menu nights (BBQ on Wednesday) they have built a steady relationship with local customers. Some of Toronto's best examples of niche styles like sour ales and barrel-conditioned releases along with their excellent beer dinners draw devotees from across town.

5. Bellwoods Brewery

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124 Ossington Ave., Toronto
ON M6J 2Z5, Canada
(416) 535-4586
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When you set up your beer operation so that all of the components – brewery, pub, and bottle shop – are under your control you never have a reason to compromise on quality. Such high standards are the anthem at Bellwoods and their awards, packed patio, and sold-out-in-hours special releases show that we're all part of the fan club.

6. C'est What

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67 Front St E, Toronto
ON M5E 1B5, Canada
(416) 867-9499
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The subterranean digs, low ceilings, and fireplaces give this downtown establishment an exceptionally cozy atmosphere. The beer list leans to Ontario gems and is even more noteworthy during their seasonal festivals of small breweries.

7. Stout Irish Pub

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221 Carlton St., Toronto
ON M5A 2L2, Canada
(647) 344-7676
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With a name like that you'd expect them to sell more Guinness than anything else, but this Cabbagetown watering-hole devotes the majority of their beer menu to Ontario craft and pours one of the best pints of cask ale in the city.

8. The Rhino

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1249 Queen St W, Toronto
ON M6K 1L5, Canada
(416) 535-8089
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Before craft beer and Parkdale were cool, The Rhino was there introducing one to the other. Especially when the weather finally allows the use of their spacious Queen West patio with a view, it's worth the streetcar ride.

9. Granite Brewery

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245 Eglinton Ave E, Toronto
ON M4P 3B7, Canada
(416) 322-0723
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There aren't many options in North Toronto for good beer, but the Granite is not on this list to fill a geographic quota. They do British styles – like a Best Bitter and a Peculiar – better than anyone else in the city and also serve top-notch fish & chips and curries to match.

10. The Wren

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1382 Danforth Ave., Toronto
ON, Canada
(647) 748-1382
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As Danforth East continues as one of the preferred neighbourhoods for young families, The Wren will continue to be their go-to for brunch, an inventive Tex-Mex menu, and most of a good selection of craft beer.


11. Sin and Redemption

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136 McCaul St., Toronto
ON M5T 1W2, Canada
(416) 640-9197
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When a bar brings craft beer to a neighbourhood and offers a view like S&R has, they also give drinkers a view on a part of Toronto they might not normally see: all the better when enjoyed with a top-notch pint.

12. The Only Cafe

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972 Danforth Ave, Toronto
ON M4J 1L9, Canada
(416) 463-7843
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The selection is so varied and comprehensive at The Only that tap handles seem to grow out of each other. The tree-screened back patio is a cool and shady spot for a cold brew on Toronto's inevitable sweltering, humid days.

13. Loose Moose Tap & Grill

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146 Front St. W., Toronto
ON M5J 1G2, Canada
(416) 977-8840
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With a prime location and an established slot as the default pre-game bar, the largest draft beer selection downtown might seem like gilding the lily. Except that the beer program is serious, carefully selected, and well served. Like a couple other spots on this list, they also do taster portions to help you pick your pint or taste a range of styles.

14. Bryden's Pub

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2455 Bloor St W, Toronto
ON, Canada
(416) 760-8069
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There are more than a few places to grab a pint in Bloor West Village, but Bryden’s has one of the best selections. They tend to get limited releases from local breweries like Great Lakes and pick up their game even more during Ontario Craft Beer week in June.

15. Tallboys Craft Beer House

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838 Bloor St. W., Toronto
ON M6G 1M2, Canada
(416) 535-7486
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The eponymous cans are favoured by home drinkers because they offer the ability to cover a few different bases. Likewise, Tallboys claims the title for the largest selection of Ontario craft in the city. Add their home run of a kimchi burger and Jays-related events and it becomes clear that Tallboys is the utility player of this lineup.

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1. barVolo

587 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4Y 1Z4, Canada
The long list at this Yonge and Wellesley institution usually features a few well-made standbys, complemented by more than twenty niche one-offs and cask options. Their IPA challenge, Zwanze Day participation, and the off-site Cask Days festival are all world-class events. Add a well-situated (if small) patio with a great view of Yonge Street and you have a top-notch aficianados' bar.
587 Yonge St, Toronto
ON M4Y 1Z4, Canada

2. Bar Hop

391 King Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 1K1, Canada
Evidence runs deep that Rob Pingitore and his team pay very careful attention to selecting the world's finest. Both special releases from Ontario breweries and international cult favourites, clearly, are chosen for quality and consistency rather novelty. A paddle of their small-size samples is one of the best ways in Toronto to expand your familiarity with different beer styles.
391 King Street West, Toronto
ON M5V 1K1, Canada

3. WVRST

609 King St. W, Toronto, ON M5V 1M5, Canada
There is nothing small or niche about WVRST, but that makes their attention to detail, consistency, and staff education all the more impressive. The no-nonsense food menu, built around an impressive list of sausages lets their varied list of Ontario and European gems shine in one of King West's most convivial spaces.
609 King St. W, Toronto
ON M5V 1M5, Canada

4. Indie Alehouse

2876 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON M6P 1Y9, Canada
With a bottle shop to sell their brews and special menu nights (BBQ on Wednesday) they have built a steady relationship with local customers. Some of Toronto's best examples of niche styles like sour ales and barrel-conditioned releases along with their excellent beer dinners draw devotees from across town.
2876 Dundas St. W, Toronto
ON M6P 1Y9, Canada

5. Bellwoods Brewery

124 Ossington Ave., Toronto, ON M6J 2Z5, Canada
When you set up your beer operation so that all of the components – brewery, pub, and bottle shop – are under your control you never have a reason to compromise on quality. Such high standards are the anthem at Bellwoods and their awards, packed patio, and sold-out-in-hours special releases show that we're all part of the fan club.
124 Ossington Ave., Toronto
ON M6J 2Z5, Canada

6. C'est What

67 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E 1B5, Canada
The subterranean digs, low ceilings, and fireplaces give this downtown establishment an exceptionally cozy atmosphere. The beer list leans to Ontario gems and is even more noteworthy during their seasonal festivals of small breweries.
67 Front St E, Toronto
ON M5E 1B5, Canada

7. Stout Irish Pub

221 Carlton St., Toronto, ON M5A 2L2, Canada
With a name like that you'd expect them to sell more Guinness than anything else, but this Cabbagetown watering-hole devotes the majority of their beer menu to Ontario craft and pours one of the best pints of cask ale in the city.
221 Carlton St., Toronto
ON M5A 2L2, Canada

8. The Rhino

1249 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6K 1L5, Canada
Before craft beer and Parkdale were cool, The Rhino was there introducing one to the other. Especially when the weather finally allows the use of their spacious Queen West patio with a view, it's worth the streetcar ride.
1249 Queen St W, Toronto
ON M6K 1L5, Canada

9. Granite Brewery

245 Eglinton Ave E, Toronto, ON M4P 3B7, Canada
There aren't many options in North Toronto for good beer, but the Granite is not on this list to fill a geographic quota. They do British styles – like a Best Bitter and a Peculiar – better than anyone else in the city and also serve top-notch fish & chips and curries to match.
245 Eglinton Ave E, Toronto
ON M4P 3B7, Canada

10. The Wren

1382 Danforth Ave., Toronto, ON, Canada
As Danforth East continues as one of the preferred neighbourhoods for young families, The Wren will continue to be their go-to for brunch, an inventive Tex-Mex menu, and most of a good selection of craft beer.

1382 Danforth Ave., Toronto
ON, Canada

11. Sin and Redemption

136 McCaul St., Toronto, ON M5T 1W2, Canada
When a bar brings craft beer to a neighbourhood and offers a view like S&R has, they also give drinkers a view on a part of Toronto they might not normally see: all the better when enjoyed with a top-notch pint.
136 McCaul St., Toronto
ON M5T 1W2, Canada

12. The Only Cafe

972 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J 1L9, Canada
The selection is so varied and comprehensive at The Only that tap handles seem to grow out of each other. The tree-screened back patio is a cool and shady spot for a cold brew on Toronto's inevitable sweltering, humid days.
972 Danforth Ave, Toronto
ON M4J 1L9, Canada

13. Loose Moose Tap & Grill

146 Front St. W., Toronto, ON M5J 1G2, Canada
With a prime location and an established slot as the default pre-game bar, the largest draft beer selection downtown might seem like gilding the lily. Except that the beer program is serious, carefully selected, and well served. Like a couple other spots on this list, they also do taster portions to help you pick your pint or taste a range of styles.
146 Front St. W., Toronto
ON M5J 1G2, Canada

14. Bryden's Pub

2455 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON, Canada
There are more than a few places to grab a pint in Bloor West Village, but Bryden’s has one of the best selections. They tend to get limited releases from local breweries like Great Lakes and pick up their game even more during Ontario Craft Beer week in June.
2455 Bloor St W, Toronto
ON, Canada

15. Tallboys Craft Beer House

838 Bloor St. W., Toronto, ON M6G 1M2, Canada
The eponymous cans are favoured by home drinkers because they offer the ability to cover a few different bases. Likewise, Tallboys claims the title for the largest selection of Ontario craft in the city. Add their home run of a kimchi burger and Jays-related events and it becomes clear that Tallboys is the utility player of this lineup.
838 Bloor St. W., Toronto
ON M6G 1M2, Canada