Our picks for best beer bars of the last year
Chances are your obscure watering hole has achieved a small but significant victory in the form of at least one craft tap. But some bars really commit to delicious beer. Whether they’ve had a mandate to spotlight local and intriguing brews for more than three decades or less than three years, we salute them for helping Torontonians drink good beer. Now go forth and do just that.
1184 Bloor West, 416-546-4033, burdockto.com
What pairs best with live music? Beer. Always beer. This welcome addition to Bloordale nightlife specializes in both, dished up with a side of hyper-local fare. Though I absolutely loathe slamming meatballs on toast ($7) into my face and washing off the sauce and cheese with an APA, I will make concessions for Burdock.
The shiny microbrewery in the back will showcase Ontario yeast, malt and hops once it’s up and running, hopefully by August. Until then, Burdock’s 12 taps frequently rotate what’s good and local. An adjacent soundproofed venue features live indie rock a few times weekly. There’s also a snug side patio with communal seating for unwinding during the golden hour.
Hours Sunday to Wednesday 5 pm to midnight, Thursday to Saturday 5 pm to 2 am. Access Entrance barrier-free, washrooms in basement.
191 College, 416-506-4040, prenuppub.com
They say the hop doesn’t fall far from the vine… or something. From the same owners behind notably beer–focused joints like Sin & Redemption (136 McCaul, 416-640-9197, sinandredemption.com), the Town Crier (115 John, 416-204-9588, towncrierpub.ca) and the Village Idiot (126 McCaul, 416-597-1175, villageidiotpub.ca), Prenup Pub boasts 70 taps that spotlight international beers, paying special attention to old world styles.
Plenty of space (two floors plus a front patio) and excellent value – I’m talking Trappist ales priced dollars cheaper than at most other beer bars in town – make this screen-free drinking zone (a major plus in my books) a new happy place for low-key beer lovers and discerning uni students.
Hours Daily 11 am to 2 am. Access Steps at entrance, washrooms on second floor.
Craft Brasserie & Grille
107 Atlantic, 416-535-2337 (by the way, that’s BEER), thecraftbrasserie.com
This brasserie is just what Liberty Village (where pre-existing bars are always bursting at the seams) needs: a social holding tank for young professionals bitten by the craft beer bug. With 120 craft draughts, it wins the coveted (and often dubious) title of most taps in town. The list is divided by style descriptors in case the staggering volume makes your eyes swim while a little voice inside your head pleads, “Help me.” Local beer -devotees will be stoked to hear that 80-plus -Ontario options are available. Adventurous drinkers should spring for flights, while sports fans can succumb to the ecstasy of big-screen TVs with fancy beers in mitt.
Hours Daily 11 am to 2 am. Access Elevator at entrance, washrooms on main floor
1346 Queen West, 416-588-1086, duggansbreweryparkdale.com
This brew pub set up shop on the corner of Queen and Brock late last year. Shockingly, it’s Parkdale’s first resident brewery. Duggan’s sticks to its guns, exclusively serving in-house beers like No. 9 IPA, No. 46 Parkdale Bomber and 100 Mile Ale and Lager, brewed with locally sourced ingredients. Its beer also makes an appearance in cocktails like the Hefe-Weisour (a beerified whisky sour with bourbon, fresh lemon and orange, hops syrup, hefeweizen and bitters) and the Beer-Groni (gin, sweet vermouth, Campari and hop -syrup with No. 9 IPA, both $12) and foodstuffs like beer candied bacon ($6) and stout crème brûlée ($12)
Hours Tuesday to Thursday noon to midnight, Friday and Saturday noon to 2 am. Access One step at entrance, washrooms on main floor
Wenona Craft Beer Lodge
1069 Bloor West, 647-344-6444, wenonalodge.ca
Only two weeks old, Wenona Craft Beer Lodge is located a swift jog across Bloor from its mother ship, Tallboys. Those confined to the city this summer will appreciate the relaxed, cottagey vibe. Eight taps pour a rotating range of all-Ontario beer while the fridge, stocked with local tall cans, pays tribute to the bar family tree. The concise Canadian-inspired menu is pizza-heavy to help you soak up all the beer you’re inevitably going to throw back.
Hours Monday to Friday 4 pm to close, Saturday and Sunday 1 pm to close. Access Entrance barrier-free, washrooms in basement.