Just brew it! Those three words are the unofficial credo of Toronto’s ever-expanding band of brewers. Between the stalwarts and an upstart network of home-brewers-turned-maestros, the landscape is more dynamic than ever. Robin LeBlanc and Jordan St. John’s Ontario Craft Beer Guide (Dundurn Press, $16.99), a hugely useful new intro to the beautiful madness that is the current scene, lists hundreds of Ontario breweries – 150 of them established in the last four years. Who knows? By the time this issue hits the street, 10 more may have opened. (Kidding – kind of.) Now let’s get to what this hotbed has to offer. In the interest of brevity and sanity, we’ve stuck to bricks-and-mortar breweries. Hope you’re thirsty.
245 Queens Quay West, 416-504-1020
Amsterdam, which holds the illustrious distinction of being Toronto’s oldest craft brewery, began as a brew pub on John back in 1986. A massive expansion in recent years included a new facility in Leaside plus the harbourfront BrewHouse, which has allowed brewmaster Iain McOustra to get more experimental via one-offs and an extensive barrel-aging program. Whether you’re sucking back approachable core expressions like 3 Speed session lager or geekier releases like the Barrel-Aged Double Tempest, a pint in one of the BrewHouse’s Adirondack chairs should be on every Torontonian’s to-do list this summer.
Hours BrewHouse and restaurant: Daily 11 am to late.
Retail store: Monday to Wednesday 3 to 10 pm, Thursday to Sunday 11 am to 10 pm.
2125 Dundas West, 647-348-1002
One of the youngest sprouts in the bumper crop of brand new T.O. breweries, Bandit brew pub took about five minutes to attract packs of Roncey residents in dire need of a chill place to sip craft beer. A total of 20 taps pour Bandit’s eight (and counting) flagship beers alongside a great selection from other local breweries. The front patio, equipped with rows of -picnic tables and boundless sunshine, is the perfect spot for a glass or five of Hassle-Hef (the crushable in-house -Hefeweizen). Fancy Bandit brews to go? Hold on, the bottle shop opens soon.
Hours Monday to Thursday 5 pm to midnight, Friday 5 pm to 1 am, Saturday noon to 1 am, Sunday noon to midnight.
587 Yonge, 416-928-0008, barvolo.com
Devastated to hear that the city’s best beer bar will be shuttered after almost 30 years of good times and great beer? Us too. But it’s not all bad news: the Morana family is only weeks away from opening Birreria Volo in Little Italy, and brews from Volo’s pilot system, dubbed House Ales, will be available until the original location shuts its doors for good this fall. Keep an eye out for House Ales’ upcoming release, a farmhouse table beer called Pikkolo brewed with yeast scored from Jester King, Thiriez and Brasserie Dunham bottles in collaboration with Halifax’s Stillwell Bar.
Hours Monday to Wednesday 4 pm to 2 am, Thursday to Sunday 2 pm to 2 am.
75 Victoria, 647-559-4388
This slick Creemore Springs-owned brew pub opened four months ago in the former Beer Academy, just paces from King and Yonge. Six rotating BATCHes of house brews are available on tap along with a lineup of Creemore and Molson-Coors products, plus a smattering of bottled and canned local beer. The cocktail menu also incorporates BATCH’s signature beers in the form of the Hopfashioned (bourbon and IPA syrup, $12) and a Michelada (witbier, Walter’s caesar mix, Worcestershire, lime and house hot sauce, $11).
Hours Sunday to Wednesday 11 am to 1 am, Thursday to Saturday 11 am to 2 am.
1000 Murray Ross, 416-736-1733
Attached to the locally legendary Pioneer Village of the same name, Black Creek brews small batches of beer using pre-electric processes. Constructed from mostly wood and copper, the tiny brewery still ferments in cask. Though widely distributed Black Creek beers are made at Trafalgar, whatever’s brewed using old-timey methods and ingredients can only be purchased on site – bonnet and britches optional. If you really want to get into the pioneer spirit, book a day-long apprenticeship with the Black Creek brewmaster.
Hours Monday to Friday 9:30 am to 4 pm, Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 4 pm.
124 Ossington, 416-535-4586, bellwoodsbrewery.com
A brewery that needs no introduction, Bellwoods has played a mighty role in putting Toronto craft on the tongues of international beer enthusiasts. To keep up with the spectacular demand, Bellwoods is in the midst of a serious expansion. Two larger brewing facilities on Dupont and Hafis Road will join the original Ossington brew pub, encouraging news for anyone who’s ever scrambled to get their mitts on special releases like the fourth-anniversary edition Motley Cru 2016 (a Niagara wild ale blend with Gewürztraminer, part Niagara wild ale inoculated with grape must, part barrel-aged sour) or the wildly Instagrammed Jelly King (a dry-hopped sour, one with and one without apricot) and been left with nothing but misty eyes and a searing case of FOMO. More about Bellwood’s food on page 35.
Hours Monday to Wednesday 5 pm to midnight, Thursday 5 pm to 1 am, Friday 2 pm to 1 am, Saturday noon to 1 am, Sunday noon to midnight.
75 Horner, 416-252-2739
Black Oak was founded in Oakville in 1999 before moving to a larger facility on Toronto’s extreme west side (okay, Etobicoke) almost 10 years later. Standards like the Pale and Nut Brown Ales and Ten Bitter Years Imperial IPA anchor a list that also includes seasonal and experimental releases like the delicious Triple Chocolate Cherry Stout and Nox Aeterna (smoked breakfast stout with organic coffee).
Hours Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm, Saturday 10 am to 3 pm.
344 Westmoreland North #104c, @bloodbrothersTO
Perhaps the cultiest of Toronto’s new crop of indie breweries, Blood Brothers, run by sibling home-turned-pro-brewers Brayden and Dustin Jones, is tucked away in an industrial building just north of Dupont. The search is worth it. Production is small-scale, and Blood Brothers’ bottles go fast – the easiest way to keep track of what’s in stock is to stalk their social media for updates. Get your mouth around their IPAs and anything from the Paradise Lost sour series. Their latest sour, White Lies (brewed with Sauvignon Blanc grapes and Nelson Sauvin hops), was released last week. Good luck.
Hours Bottle shop: Wednesday to Friday 4 to 8 pm, Saturday noon to 6 pm. Sunday noon to 4 pm.
1184 Bloor West, 416-546-4033
The goods coming out of Burdock have generated a city-wide buzz since the brew pub opened in Bloordale last July, and with good reason: the beers keep getting even better and more interesting. BUMO (a beer-wine hybrid collaboration with Niagara cult winery Pearl Morissette) and Key Lime Gose, both released in limited quantities earlier this year, prove that the talents of brewer Siobhan McPherson extend beyond the contemporary and classic and into the conceptual. It’s worth mentioning that Burdock is also a kickass spot for a patio bevvie before catching an indie show at the music hall next door.
Read about Burdock’s food on page 34
Hours Restaurant & Music Hall: Monday to Friday 5 pm to late, Saturday and -Sunday 2 pm to late.
Bottle shop: Daily 11 am to 11 pm
164 Evans, 416-255-7100
Though Cool beer is no longer, dare I say it, de rigueur, this capacious facility plays a crucial role in giving life to many local beer brands without a home of their own. If you enjoy nursing – or slamming (I don’t judge) – brews from Woodhouse, Kensington Brewing Co., Longslice or Lost Craft, Longslice or Spearhead, remember to say a little thank-you to Cool for the tools.
Hours Monday to Friday 10 am to 7 pm, Saturday 10 am to 5 pm.
1346 Queen West, 416-588-1086
A big old corner in Parkdale is the second beer nest of long-time Toronto brewer Mike Duggan. The first Duggan’s brew pub opened for a short stint in 2009 in the space on Victoria that Batch currently occupies. In addition to the core lineup, which includes the No. 9 IPA and No. 5 Sorachi Lager, Duggan’s pumps out small batches of specialty brews, often with a focus on local ingredients.
Hours Brew pub: Tuesday and Wednesday 5 pm to midnight, Thursday noon to midnight, Friday and Saturday noon to 1 am, Sunday noon to 11 pm.
Beer store: Tuesday to Thursday 5 to11 pm. Friday to Sunday 11 am to 11 pm. Closed Monday.
928 College, 416-533-7272
It’s been less than a year since College local Habits turned into a microbrewery helmed by former home brewers Christina Coady and Chris Conway, but despite their moniker and relative newness, Folly’s ales of the Belgian persuasion are far from foolhardy. Standards include Imposter Syndrome Farmhouse IPA and Praxis New World Saison, but the taps and bottle shop are frequently refreshed with new small-batch creations. The bar also boasts a solid whisky selection for those who enjoy the coupling of pint and dram. Read about Folly’s food on page 35.
Hours Tuesday to Friday 4 pm to late, Saturday and Sunday 1 pm to late.
245 Eglinton East, 416-322-0723
One of the city’s OG brew pubs, the Granite is best known for its British-style beers and cask ales. Opened in 1991 by brothers Ron and Kevin Keefe (proprietor of the original Granite Brewery which opened in Halifax in the mid-80s), the Granite remains a family affair – Mary Beth Keefe, followed in her father’s footsteps to become the Granite’s current head brewer.
Hours Restaurant and bar: Monday to Thursday 11:30 am to midnight, Friday and Saturday 11:30 to 1 am, Sunday 11 am to midnight.
Beer store: Monday to Saturday 11:30 am to 11 pm, Sunday 11 am to 11 pm.
30 Queen Elizabeth, 416-255-4510
Twenty-nine years strong, Great Lakes Brewery has established itself as one of Ontario’s best – with multiple Ontario Brewery and Canadian Brewery of the Year awards to prove it. Since transitioning from a more traditional large-scale brewery to a craft operation 10 years ago, GLB has made an impression with its now-retired super-hopped Devil’s Pale Ale and flagship Canuck PA. Brewmaster Mike Lackey, the IPA whisperer of the GTA, makes consistently great beers, the best of which are released in limited quantities via the brewery’s Tank Ten project.
Hours Monday to Thursday 11 am to 6 pm, Friday and Saturday 10 am to 8 pm, Sunday noon to 5 pm.
247 Wallace, 416-606-7778
I’ll start by saying how happy I am that the hip and polished tap room at month-and-a-half-old Halo is a five-minute bike ride from my house. The small experimental brewery just paces east of the Junction Triangle, is notable not only for its delicious seasonal beers (try the Tokyo Rose rosehip saison), but for brewers Callum Hay and Eric Portelance’s commitment to transparency: they plan to post recipes for every one of their 30 brews on their website, inviting home-brewers to attempt and adapt Halo originals. The duo, who like to work with adjuncts to complement the base flavours of their brews, bring a summery kick to their current lineup by toying with flavours like mango, strawberry, ginger, lime and kiwi.
Hours Shop and Taproom: Tuesday to Thursday 3 pm to 9 pm, Friday to Sunday 11 am to 9 pm.
128A Sterling, 416-863-8822
After spending two years scouring the city for an ideal location, Henderson’s is finally up and running in the tip of the Junction Triangle. Their award-winning flagship release, an amber ale called Henderson’s Best, is a contemporary twist on what was brewed and consumed in olden-days T.O. Committed to the city, the brewery releases a new collaborative 416-inspired beer every month via their Ides program. Ride On, Radler (a lemon-lime radler inspired by Sweet Pete’s bike shop) is pouring now, and early July will see the drop of Radicle Wheat for the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition.
Hours Daily 11 am to 10 pm.
2876 Dundas West, 416-760-9691, indiealehouse.com
When pondering the origins of T.O.’s big bang of craft beer, it’s impossible not to heap credit on Indie. Along with Bellwoods, this Junction-based brewery (sniff a west-end trend? I sure do) focused on bold flavours and American-style brews when most of the larger operations were still playing it safe. Beers on offer change all the time, so visit as often as possible. Check out the Fates & Furies series of limited releases for barrel-aged beauties including Sun Kicked XO (Imperial Wit aged in a cognac barrel) and Sun Kicked Anejo (aged in tequila casks). More about Indie Ale House’s food on page 35.
Hours Bar and restaurant: Monday 5 pm to late, Tuesday to Sunday noon to late.
Bottle shop: Monday 5 to 11 pm, Tuesday to Saturday noon to 11, Sunday noon to 9.
90 Cawthra #101, 416-766-1616, junctioncraftbrewing.com
Since scoring its own west-side brewery and tap room four years ago after introducing the brand via a contract with Guelph’s Wellington Brewery, Junction has seen brews like Conductor’s Craft Ale and the award-winning Brakeman’s Session Ale become prominent fixtures on LCBO and now grocery store shelves. They’re also popular on tap and in cans at bars across the city.
Hours Thursday and Friday 4 to 9 pm, Saturday 11 am to 9 pm, Sunday noon to 5 pm.
417 Danforth, 647-350-5087, louisciferbrewworks.com
This gigantic east-end brew pub cheekily named after the Devil (think Apocalypse Now or try saying Louis Cifer as quickly as possible after a few pints if you still don’t get it) offers a lineup of house beers that range from staples like Irish Stout and Original Sin Blonde to seasonals and one-offs like Dark Horse Espresso APA and Coconut Lemongrass Thai-PA. There’s also a fair amount of locally focused craft beer not branded with the pub’s nefarious mustachioed mascot, plus a list of “Hoptails.”
Hours Bar and restaurant: Monday to Friday 11:30 to 2 am, Saturday and Sunday 11 to 2 am.
Brew Store: Monday to Friday 11:30 am to 11 pm, Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 11 pm.
303 Lansdowne, 416-588-1641
Until they nab their brewing licence (very soon), Lansdowne brewer Jeremy Coghill is taking advantage of the facilities operated by pals and peers Muddy York and Rainhard to produce modest batches of signature beers like Buck 10 Imperial Amber Ale and It’s Willamette Damnit English IPA. Until it becomes a fully functional brewery, Lansdowne hosts monthly beer events and makes a nice pit stop for locally focused beer (including cask) and snacks. I can get behind any bar that stocks pickled eggs.
Hours Tuesday to Thursday 4 pm to midnight, Friday and Saturday 4 pm to 1 am, Sunday 4 to 11 pm.
36 Wagstaff, 647-346-5001
Founded by Mark (who’s also the brewmaster) and Mandie Murphy in 2013, Left Field has consistently pumped out delicious beer. Last spring they started producing out of their own east-side facility, which also functions as a tap room and retail store. In addition to fan favourites like Eephus (an oatmeal brown ale) and Sunlight Park Saison, the baseball-themed brewery released a slew of new styles this year, from a one-off Berliner weisse called 1st & 3rd to a session IPA aptly named Day Game.
Hours Daily 11 am to 9 pm.
31 Mercer, 416-979-0131
Mascot’s always rammed rooftop Beergarden, with its persistent party vibe, is like the communal courtyard of condoland. Beers brewed on site – a flagship pilsner and hefeweizen with mass appeal – are designed for crushing in the sun. The newer ground-floor Eatery has a longer draft list featuring all-Ontario craft.
Hours Rooftop Beergarden: Monday to Friday 4 pm to late, Saturday noon to late, Sunday 2 to 9 pm.
Eatery: Tuesday to Saturday 5 pm to late.
22 Cranfield, 416-619-7819
East-ender Jeff Manol was an award-winning home brewer before he took the plunge and opened bricks-and-mortar Muddy York in 2014. His brews – an eponymous porter, Diving Horse Pale Ale and Gaslight Helles, et al. – convey Manol’s professed mantra of simplicity and timelessness, a refreshing approach in a crazy world of hyper-experimental hybrid styles and brett-laced sours. An onsite tap room is currently in the works.
Hours Retail store: Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday 11 am to 4 pm, Thursday and Friday 11 am to 7 pm.
21 Tank House, 416-681-0338
When Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned Labatt purchased Mill Street late last year, it caused a serious kerfuffle among craft beer geeks. But let’s put it in perspective: for every popular -independent brewery purchased by a Jabba-scale multinational, 20 more tiny craft operations pop up in its place. Mill Street deserves a round of applause for diverting consumers away from limp fizz and toward more flavourful options like Organic and Tank House.
Hours Brew Pub: Monday and Tuesday 11 am to 11 pm, Wednesday 11 am to midnight, Thursday 11 am to 1 am, Friday 11 am to 2 am, Saturday 10:30 am to 2 am, Sunday. 10:30 am to 11 pm.
Beer Hall: Sunday to Wednesday noon to 9 pm, Thursday noon to 11 pm, Friday and Saturday noon to 1 am.
100 Symes, rainhardbrewing.com
In his open-concept brewery tucked behind the stockyards in an old industrial building, Jordan Rainhard makes excellent beer. A dedicated home-brewer before making the leap to pro, Rainhard snagged the attention of Toronto’s craft beer junkies when he began releasing meticulously handcrafted small batches of mostly North American-style brews last year. IPAs like the award-winning Lazy Bones and hop-bomb Kapow! are must-tries, As is the recently released Broggen Dreams roggenbier, Unfiltered Pilsner and the brand new Mass Hysteria collab with Folly Brewpub.
Hours Wednesday and Thursday noon to 8 pm, Friday and Saturday noon to 9 pm, Sunday noon to 5 pm.
275 Yonge, 647-347-6286
French brew pub Les 3 Brasseurs opened in the mid-80s, and now, as 3 Brewers, has 18 locations across Ontario and Quebec, five of them in the GTA. A succinct collection of core offerings simply listed as Blonde, Amber, White, Brown and IPA are joined by monthly features. This summer’s is Rhubiscus, a light hibiscus and rhubarb wheat beer.
Hours Sunday to Wednesday 11:30 am to midnight, Thursday 11:30 to 1 am. Friday and Saturday 11:30 am to 2 am.
255 Bremner, 416-362-2337
The not-so-little brewery that could, Steam Whistle’s incredible branding and straightforward signature Czech-style pilsner have enjoyed massive success since the brewery was founded in 2000 by three fired-and-proud-of-it employees of the Upper Canada Brewing Co. Though Steam Whistle has only ever produced one beer, the team is an active part of Toronto’s craft beer community, hosting biannual Ontario beer festivals at the Roundhouse, downtown’s historical train-yard-turned-brewery.
Hours Monday to Saturday 11 am to 6 pm, Sunday 11 am to 5 pm.