Calling all beer barons, hop enthusiasts and cask ale connoisseurs! The world of beer has expanded over the past few years in our fine city as licensees continue to raise the bar with more craft brews and unique imports available allowing the beer drinkers amongst us to expand our palates and find more reasons to step away from the safe and boring mass-produced garb. I should note that I am guilty of pounding back more ‘mass-produced garb’ than I would like to confess, but I am open to change and with oodles of local and craft brews now available I am prepared to do the leg work and expand my beer horizons! So let us get started with the list below. These purveyors of the perfect pour have ample choices for everyone from ale adventurers to lager lovers, so strap on your beer helmet because we are going on a pub crawl…
Beer Bistro, 18 King St. E.
As the name would suggest, these folks are all about their beer. They expertly pair each of their dishes with a featured brew and proudly offer a wide selection of craft brews. This is your ‘fine dining’ (ish) beer experience so don’t expect to be ordering a pitcher and a plate of nachos in this joint. More likely that you’ll find yourself sipping on a bold brew such as Fuller’s Extra Special Bitter to perfectly compliment your duck and foie gras rillette. Or if you’re in the mood for some liquid exploration, take advantage of their taster flights at just $6 for 3 samples. They have 20 offerings on draft and dozens by the bottle so be ready to step out of your comfort zone.
The Rhino, 1249 Queen St. W.
This Parkdale staple boasts 23 beers on tap and over 300 bottled options… that is a lot of inventory. They rotate a featured cask brew to keep regulars guessing and although they have many offerings from around the globe, it is predominately Ontario Craft beer that they have narrowed their focus on in recent years. With a chill vibe and grub for every craving from nachos to lamb kefta, this is a good spot to get your beer on.
C’est What?, 67 Front St. E.
Set in the cellar of a 19th century building in the St. Lawrence Market area, this cozy nook comes complete with fireplaces, pool tables and board games so they have really created the perfect location to stay and sample all 42 of the craft beers they have on draught. Chuck in some live music and a menu full of comfort food and you may well stay past your welcome… but they only have themselves to blame for that.
The Cloak and Dagger, 394 College St.
Ah finally, a good ol’ pub! Simple pub fare and 27 draught offerings including a rotating guest keg and a solid selection of local brews that will not break the bank makes this a staple on our beer crawl.
Bier Markt, Four Locations (600 King St. W, 58 The Esplanade, 7 O’Neill Road, 199 North Queen Street)
Being a corporate chain these guys aren’t so focused on what Canadian beer makers have to offer and instead focus on European exports. They offer over 150 brands from 30 countries and a Euro focused menu to boot. So if you’re looking for an accent in your pour, this is the spot for you.
The Loose Moose, 146 Front St. W.
The recently renovated Toronto staple can proudly proclaim that they do indeed house the largest draught selection available in the downtown core. Hoorah! They have a total of 54 beers on tap including your standard ‘big name’ brews but the Moose with standards saved more than enough space to include over 20 craft beers. That is a lot of choice, but have no fear because they offer 3oz samples so no commitment required. And when you do finally find the brew for you, a 30oz growler is the obvious next step… no pressure.
Bar Hop, 391 King St. W.
This King West spot is rising to the draught beer challenge with 36 beers on tap with rotating selections plus two rotating casks. Add to that 100 beers in bottles and nightly specials on beer and food, and they have definitely earned a spot on our lineup.
Tallboys Craft Beer House, 838 Bloor St.W.
Had to include these guys not because of their huge draught list (they do have some but nothing extensive) but of course for their large selection of tallboys, offering over 70 Ontario craft beers. House-ground burgers and quality pub fare provides tasty sustenance so you can get it in the can all afternoon long…
The Only Café, 972 Danforth Avenue
Twenty-four taps and one rotating cask give the patrons at this Danforth staple plenty of options to quench their thirst. Although they have a limited evening menu, word on the street is that you are more than welcome to order takeout from surrounding businesses if you need something to soak up the good stuff. Can you get any more laid back than that? Ask me after a few pints…
Bar Volo, 587 Yonge St.
This family-owned bar has specialized in craft beer since its inception in 1985. They even have their own on-site Nano Brewery so you know this is the real deal when it comes to some serious local brews. Featuring 30 rotating regional beers on tap, six on cask, and over 75 bottles, this is the place for real beer connoisseurs. Add to this a menu offering an array of meat and cheese boards and items from the grill, and this seems like the perfect spot to end our epic crawl.