Toronto’s 25 best breweries



Known for: Experimental, agriculture-driven brewing

The newest kid on the block in Leslieville’s booming beer scene, Avling was a project years in the making a few weeks in, and the locals are already making up for lost time by flocking to the pastel-tinged industrial space. Owner Max Meighen, a former chef, puts his keen eye for sourcing to work by brewing with rotating crops and agricultural by-products and pulling ingredients from the brewery’s rooftop garden (which also fuels journeywoman chef Suzanne Barr’s food menu). NM

1042 Queen East, at Pape, 416-469-1010,

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Samuel Engelking

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Junction Craft Brewing

Known for: Eco-friendly brewing in a historic home

You might not look at Junction’s stately new home and think “trash incinerator,” but that’s precisely what it was built to be in the early 30s, when it was known as “The Destructor” (dope). When brewmaster Doug Pengelly and Co. moved in, they kitted the place out with energy-saving brewing tanks, plus a taproom pouring everything from staples like Conductor’s APA to Earl Grey ale and mango lager. NM

150 Symes, at Glen Scarlett, 416-766-1616,

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Natalia Manzocco

Black Lab Brewing

Known for: Welcoming beasts in the east

The dog in Black Lab’s logo isn’t just cute branding: This east-end brewery rolls out the red carpet for furry patrons and hosts its share of doggie birthday parties and rescue fundraisers. If you are a biped with kidneys that can metabolize alcohol, good news: They also pour everything from an excellently toasty black lager to the aptly named Underdog Oat Pale Ale, which packs a surprising punch of bitter, piney hop flavour. NM

818 Eastern, at Leslie, 647-352-2525,

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Natalia Manzocco

Eastbound Brewing Co.

Known for: A neighbourly vibe and a righteous IPA series

Eastbound pulls in Riverside locals plenty of ways – food events, BYO vinyl nights – but the beer is a draw on its own. Dave Lee’s brewing program has grown to encompass plenty of styles, but to break the tie, reach for the latest in the Fresh Start single-hop IPA series right now there’s an easy-drinking Amarillo and a rich, tropical Sabro. Grab some housemade beer mustard or marinated ribs from the fridge on the way out. NM

700 Queen East, at Broadview, 416-901-1299,

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Michael Watier

Amsterdam BrewHouse

Known for: Diverse brews with waterfront views

With seating for 1,000 guests and four patios on site, Amsterdam BrewHouse is undoubtedly one of Ontario’s largest taprooms. Waterfront views of Lake Ontario and its proximity to the CN Tower also make it popular with tourists. Quench your thirst with the easy-drinking Golden Pale Ale or the award-winning Boneshaker IPA, while snacking on innovative pub favourites like buffalo cauliflower and fish and chips battered in 3 Speed Lager. MDS

245 Queens Quay West, at Lower Simcoe, 416-504-1020,

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Natalia Manzocco

Saulter Street Brewery

Known for: Being Riverside’s best-kept secret

It takes effort to find this brewery – head all the way down its namesake residential street, then turn left onto a shady lane covered by spreading trees. What awaits: a small red-doored building outfitted with a no-frills taproom that lets in plenty of sunshine from the laneway. The Czech-style Riverside Copper Pilsner is the flagship beer here, but they’ve also begun branching out with options like a lightly tangy lime witbier. NM

31 Saulter, at Queen East, 416-463-9379,

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Natalia Manzocco

Northern Maverick

Known for: A huge patio and great seasonal eats

Its massive size and industrial-chic exterior might scream “big business,” but Northern Maverick is a homegrown operation – and a surprisingly detail-obsessed one. On top of a broad seasonal food menu that features a smashing house charcuterie program and above-average brunches, the brew pub also features a 10-hectolitre brewhouse churning out a wide variety of styles. NM

115 Bathurst, at Adelaide, 416-540-4030,

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The Aviary

Known for: Putting a craft spin on the sports bar

Longslice Brewing operates this airy, athletics-themed space in (what the real estate developers are calling) the Canary District. “Home” and “away” beers both feature on the scoreboard draught list try the Hibiscus Pale Ale, which balances a robust hop backbone with a tinge of fruity-floral flavour (and a gorgeous ruby-red hue). Go for lunch on a weekday and get the sloppy smash burger on special for a tenner. NM

484A Front East, at Bayview, 647-352-7837,

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Natalia Manzocco

Left Field

Known for: Batting for the cycle of beer styles

Pre-dating the brewery boom in Toronto by a few years, this spot on a low-key Leslieville side street has become one of the top names in Toronto beer. The tiny, suitably baseball-themed taproom is a tad spare – but who cares when you can get fresh pints of classics like the Eephus (still one of my favourite browns in town) and new creations like thirst-crushing fruit-flavoured sours? Bonus: It’s dog-friendly! NM

36 Wagstaff, at Greenwood, 647-346-5001,

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Known for: Microbrews and music

The hybrid brewery, bottle shop, restaurant and music hall has been a Bloordale fixture since 2015 thanks to its unpretentious ambience and tasty bar snacks. Choose from 10 beers on rotation including the tropically hoppy DIPA double IPA or crush a couple of Tuesday cans, bursting with clove and pineapple, while seated on the thoughtfully designed side patio. Sikil Pak, pakoras and burrata all appear on the seasonal menu, but if you’d rather go the junk food route, we suggest the Fries Supreme! MDS

1184 Bloor West, at Pauline, 416-546-4033,

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Henderson Brewing

Known for: Cool cans in an industrial setting

If you find yourself cruising the Railpath or visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art, stop in at Henderson for a refreshing brew. Best known for its flagship amber ale – appropriately named Henderson’s Best – the brewery is also home to around a dozen seasonal collaborations, like the Society of Beer Drinking Ladies’ blood orange saison. Henderson’s taproom is charmingly industrial with just the right amount of rumpus room kitsch, and while it doesn’t have a kitchen, patrons are welcome to pick up something next door at the Drake Commissary or one of several food trucks often parked outside. MDS

128A Sterling, at Dundas West, 416-535-1212,

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Kensington Brewing Co.

Known for: The Market’s freshest beer

There are plenty of bars and restaurants to grab a pint in Kensington Market, but this is the only spot where that beer comes straight from the tanks. Open since 2017, the KBC’s taproom is uniquely brightly lit, with 40 seats divided between stools at the bar and communal benches. Grab a pint of the Baldwin FishEYE PA, an American IPA with bold citrus and pine notes, or sink your teeth into the juicy Watermelon Wheat. Whatever your preferred brew style, the friendly staff at KBC will guide you to beer nirvana. MDS 

299 Augusta, at Oxford, 647-352-9904,


Michael Watier

Bellwoods Brewery 

Known for: Funky sours and limited releases 

There’s usually a lineup to get into Bellwoods’ white-picket-fenced patio, but it’s well worth the wait to knock back the beloved beers in a prime people-watching spot. It’s famous for its limited releases and collaborations with international breweries, but you’ll always be able to count on mainstays like the frothy sour ale Jelly King – and its fruity editions, like strawberry rhubarb and pink guava – and the potent American-style IPA Witchshark. SE

124 Ossington, at Argyle, no phone, 

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Michael Watier

Mill Street Brewery

Known for: Big beer with local roots

Labatt bought Mill Street in 2015, but the move to “big beer” luckily hasn’t affected its flavour or local pride. A number of seasonal brews are still made in small batches at its Distillery District brewery, and are appropriately accompanied in the taproom by classic pub fare. The vast menu includes burgers and flatbreads, as well as smokehouse barbecue, which pairs nicely with Mill Street’s West Coast style IPAs and, of course, its most celebrated brew: the Organic Lager. MDS

21A Tank House Lane, at Mill, 416-681-0388,


R. Jeanette Martin

Indie Alehouse Brewing Co. 

Known for: Trendsetting craft beers in spacious quarters

Years before seemingly every neighbourhood in Toronto had its own brew pub, craft forbearers Indie Alehouse was concocting a slew of bold and experimental beers in its roomy Junction digs. Opened in 2012, the 4,000-square-foot space boasts a 110-seat restaurant (known for its legendary fried chicken sandwich), bottle shop and revolving rotation of taps, featuring classics like Broken Hipster, the gulpable Belgian wit and easy drinking Instigator IPA. SE

2876 Dundas West, at Keele, 416-760-9691,

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Bandit Brewery 

Known for: Crushable brews and a sunny front patio 

Inspired by German beer gardens, owners Stephane Dubois and Shehzad Hamza have decked out Bandit’s spacious Dundas West patio with picnic tables and twinkly lit trees, i.e., the coziest atmosphere for sampling the microbrewery’s range of offerings. Try the Mr. Pink, a pale ale with hints of watermelon, hibiscus and orange, or the Wizard of Gose, a quenching sour that smells like apricot. SE

2125 Dundas West, at Howard Park, 647-348-1002, 

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Known for: Big flavours, tiny space and Trinidadian snacks 

As the self-proclaimed “smallest brewery in Toronto,” Laylow produces an impressive range of beers in its west-end space, like the pink-hued Lightworks, a refreshing Belgian wit inspired by the Trinidadian drink, Sorrel and its chocolaty flagship stout, Black on Both Sides, named after the Mos Def album. If you need something delicious to soak up the booze, order chef Young Animal’s doubles, where the chickpeas are perfectly stewed and the baras is fluffy. SE 

1144 College, at Dufferin, no phone, 

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Blood Brothers Brewing

Known for: Daring flavours and a no-frills patio 

Started by real life brothers Brayden and Dustin Jones in 2015, the brewery has amassed a passionate following, so much so, the park across the street has become the unofficial overflow room when the indoor seating and patio are packed. Blood Brothers is known for its experimental sours, wine infusions (like White Lies, a sour ale re-fermented with Chablis grapes) and fruity concoctions, including Ronnie’s Pharmaceuticals, a sweet-and-sour ale collab with Toronto dives Ronnie’s and Pharmacy. It recently opened a kitchen, serving up brewery bread made in-house and fried potatoes that are liked cubed latkes. SE

165 Geary, at Dufferin, 647-625-6062, 


Halo Brewery

Known for: Experimental concoctions in a cool modern setting

Three years ago, head brewer Callum Hay quit his day job as a software engineer to turn his basement home-brewing hobby into a full-fledged business. Ever since, Halo has been pumping out equally delicious and unorthodox creations. Recent favourites include the Red Currant Shapeshifter (a berry-driven take on its sour IPA) and the Ion Cannon, a summery sour gose bursting with strawberry and kiwi flavours. It closes at 9 pm, which means starting at quarter to, the Junction Triangle neighbours come out in droves to refill their growlers. SE

247 Wallace, at Lansdowne, 416-606-7778,

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Natalia Manzocco

Godspeed Brewery

Known for: An international fusion that’s all its own

You’d never know it standing at Gerrard and Coxwell, but one of Toronto’s most inventive (and gorgeous) breweries is just around the corner. Godspeed balances Japanese, Czech and German influences, which means visitors to the airy, dark wood-panelled taproom can choose from green tea IPA, plum saison, Kellerbier and pale lagers, to name a few. Pair them with snacks like miso foie gras from house chef Ryusuke Yamanaka. NM

242 Coxwell, at Gerrard, 416-551-2282,


Natalia Manzocco

Rorschach Brewing Co.

Known for: A stunning secret rooftop

Tucked away among shady trees, this two-year-old brew pub offers a stately setting inside a Victorian mansion, topped with a rooftop patio with enough room for you and all your drinking buddies. If the heights don’t get your head spinning, the impressive slate of nuanced industrial-strength IPAs – from the aptly named Hedonism (6.9%) to the equally aptly named Truth Serum (6.3%) – will. NM

1001 Eastern, at Woodfield, 416-901-3233,

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Natalia Manzocco

Radical Road

Known for: A signature Yuzu Pale Ale

Radical Road runs counter to the warehouse-like feel of most indie breweries: with its low ceilings and framed portraits, it’s like a cozy neighbourhood pub (in short, it’s very Leslieville). You might know its fruity, crisp yuzu brew from its wider LCBO release, but while you’re here, grab something seasonal like the malty Wild Loyalist bitter (a special Canada Day release). NM

1177 Queen East, at Jones, 647-794-7909,

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Steam Whistle

Known for: … Steam Whistle

For so long, Roundhouse Park’s resident brewery made its name on simplicity: it made exactly one product, a refreshing and universally chuggable pilsner, and presented it in a historic – if pared-back – setting. But times have changed, and with them comes a second beer (Steam Whistle Pale Ale) and a gorgeous beer garden complete with the Food Dudes’ German-style eats. NM

255 Bremner, at Lower Simcoe, 416-362-2337,

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Natalia Manzocco

Shacklands Brewing

Known for: Rec room vibes in a west-end industrial park

Save for the giant tanks, drinking at Shacklands feels like hanging in your fave neighbourhood dive bar: the walls are slathered in action figures, the stereo’s playing Matthew Sweet and old cartoons are on a loop on the TV. But instead of Labatt 50, the bar’s pouring a delightful jumble of sours, bretts and fruity blends, courtesy brewer Jason Tremblay. NM

100 Symes, at Glen Scarlett, 416-763-2424,

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Rainhard Brewing

Known for: Armed ’N Citra – but there’s so much more

Rounding out the trifecta of Stockyards breweries (together with Shacklands and Junction) is this sleek-yet-industrial space. The top export is the famed dry-hopped ale, a favourite of beer nerds GTA-wide, but take this opportunity to sample the gently chocolatey Sweetback’s Milk Stout or collab brews with producers like Muddy York and Mosaic City. NM

100 Symes, at Glen Scarlett, 416-763-2337,

More from NOW’s 2019 Beer Guide:

Ontario ciders and canned cocktails to try this summer

The best Ontario summer beers at the LCBO and Beer Store



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