Toronto’s best beer bars

T.O.’s craft beer craze is booming, with brewpubs and spots where you can sip locally and internationally all over city. Here’s a list of the best spots in the city – in alphabetical order.


245 Queens Quay West, South Building, 416-504-1020,

Breathe easy, Toronto. The city’s first craft brewery has officially opened the gates of its massive new Queen’s Quay Brewhouse. With indoor and outdoor seating for 800, Amsterdam’s anticipated new brewing and dining facility is the largest spot for sampling Ontario craft. And after 27 years, Amsterdam’s still got the goods – the independently owned and operated brewery just took home six medals at the 2013 Ontario Brewing Awards, including Beer of the Year for their Spring Bock.

Bar Hop owner Rob Pingitore (left) pours it. Rebecca Burton brings it on at Bar Hop.


391 King West, at Charlotte, 647-352-7476,

This is the city’s hottest new haunt for aficionados and enthusiasts of all things malted and hopped. With a vast wall of taps to pull from — 36, to be exact — the Hop has a seasonally curated list of brews from near and far and two casks to boot. Squeeze in at the bar for a beer101 crash course or sample your way through a wide world of brew – from La Trappe Quadrupel (Netherlands) and Belgium’s La Chouffe to Ommegang’s BPA (USA) – and a generous selection of esoteric homeland pours from Dieu de Ciel!, Sawdust City, Nickel Brook, Beau’s and Indie Ale House.

Erik Holst samples the goods at Bar Hop.

Photos by Stefania Yarhi


587 Yonge, at Gloucester, 416-928-0008,

Is there anything in the beer sphere that the folks at Bar Volo don’t do? They import rare finds, pump beloved brews out of their very own nano-facility and even run their own cask beer festival, Cask Days, which just celebrated its second year. The summer bottle roster – Cantillon Fou’ Foune apricot lambic, De Ranke XX Bitter, Trou Du Diable’s La Bretteuse and La Dulcis Succubus – may bring the brew-enthused to tears of joy. With the patio bar (equipped with draught lines, naturally) in full swing and a new list of beer-inspired cocktails, Volo sets an exemplary precedent for T.O.’s craft beer scene.


18 King East, at Yonge, 416-861-9872,

A great spot to sip classy imports amongst suits, enthusiasts and rollicking locals on the east side’s cusp. A thick beer book spanning 20 taps and 150 bottles is made surprisingly approachable by a list of flavour highlights to help you select a beer suited to the mood and moment. Sip a flight and ponder your first pint plunge while nibbling something from the beer-centric menu.


124 Ossington, at Argyle,

Look no further than Ossington’s white-picketed brew pub to slake your thirst this summer with its staples and seasonals, like Bellwoods Saison, Lost River Baltic Porter and Witchshark Imperial IPA. Hit the bottle shop from 11 am to 11 pm daily.


2455 Bloor West, at Jane, 416-760-8069

At Bloor West Village’s enduring local, it’s difficult to make a poor beer choice. Seventeen draught picks, from Flying Monkeys, Beau’s, Amsterdam and Sawdust City are augmented by a rotating cask option.


2116 Queen East, at Hammersmith, 416-699-8272

Castro’s modest but discerningly selected six taps and four rotating casks cater to east-side craft connoisseurs, pumping out local rarities from Wellington, Flying Monkeys, Stone Hammer and Left Field. Add 100 bottles and cans of microbrew and imports to the mix and you’ve got yourself a new purlieu.


67 Front East, at Church, 416-867-9499,

In one of our most beloved temples of craft beer, five of the 39 local taps are devoted to cheekily named single-batch pours from C’est What’s very own brew pub: Big Butt Smoked Dark Ale, Caraway Rye Beer and Mother Pucker’s Ginger Wheat. “Toronto’s local” comes by its reputation honestly: great beer, good food and couches to sink into while enjoying both.


1316 Bloor West, at Lansdowne, 416-533-4914

This “House of Imported Bier” was a bona fide watering hole well before the developing hipster enclave at Lansdowne was a glimmer in Bloor West’s eye. Ciros’s relaxed vibe and list of bottled imports make it a fine place to sample something special from overseas.


394 College, at Borden, 416-921-8308,

Possibly Toronto’s grittiest beer cave, the Cloak & Dagger doesn’t mess around when it comes to the beer selection. Some space is reserved to cater to more mainstream tastes, but the vast majority of the 26 taps adorning the cozy bar pour locally crafted brews.


1181 Dundas West, at Ossington, 647-351-2337,

With a heady selection of Ontario craft taps focused on special editions and one-offs, it’s no wonder that this sprawling social arena is always rammed. Three taps are dedicated to Get Well’s lauded house brews – The Fuggle It Dark Ale and Get Well Porter both took silver in their respective categories at this year’s Ontario Brewing Awards. Not too shabby for a joint that just celebrated its one-year anniversary.

Photos by Stefania Yarhi


245 Eglinton East, at Mt. Pleasant, 416-322-0723,

One of the city’s oldest operating brew pubs, the Granite has been uptown’s craft beer mecca for over two decades. A family business (brewers are father-daughter team Ron and Mary Beth Keefe), it sticks to its roots as a purveyor of fine English styles. Make a pit stop at the store to stock up on growlers or kegs, and you’ll also spot a few specialities like the Darkside Black IPA and Keefe’s Irish Stout on tap around town.


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

Big, bold ales are the house specialty at the Junction’s buzz-worthy brewpub. With a spotlight on English and Belgian styles and a basement full of resting barrels, Indie Ale House’s experimental and collaborative approach – they’ve worked with local and international breweries like Italy’s Bruton and Ottawa’s Beyond the Pale – is making a splash in the local craft beer scene. Twelve taps host staple pours like the Breakfast Porter, Instigator IPA and Broken Hipster (Belgian Wit with orange peel, coriander, rose hips, lavender and ginger) and trendy lambics like the Rye So Sour.

Satisfy your Indie addiction at their beer store, where you can sign up for their Growler Club to access special brews on a monthly basis.


21 Tank House Lane, at Trinity 416-681-0338,

Beer, house-made liquor, communal seating – the only thing missing from Mill Street’s new venue is lederhosen. Along with two new brews – a Distillery Ale and a Belgian-style Dubbel – the Beer Hall has expanded the company range, checking distillation off its list of things to conquer with its signature Bierschnaps distilled from Mill St. favourites Tankhouse, Frambozen and Coffee Porter.


12 Clinton, at Henderson, 416-531-5833, themonarchtavern

Nestled between the gridlocked network of bars and restaurants that define Dundas and College, one of T.O.’s oldest licensed establishments happens to be a damn fine place to enjoy a pint and a glass of whisky. Sample the Monarch’s rotating cask option or tap into 15 local brews including Beau’s, County Durham, Great Lakes and Denison’s.


3073 Bloor West, at Brentwood 647-348-4848,

It’s well worth the journey west to indulge in a taste of the Old World via Etobicoke’s European craft haven. Choose from 17 taps pouring Junction, Muskoka, Spearhead and Wellington, plus a cask on weekends, or peruse the long list of bottles and indulge in elusive American seasonals and Trappist treasures like Westvleteren and Rochefort 10.


972 Danforth, at Donlands, 416-463-7843,

Pulling from an impressive 24 taps (not to mention a 200-plus bottle count), the Danforth’s garden of hoppy delights maintains its deserved reputation as one of the best beer joints in the city. Your cup won’t runneth over if it’s full of treasures like Dieu de Ciel! Aphrodisiaque, Stone Hammer Bandwagon IPA, Neustadt Sour Kraut Lager or Le Trou du Diable’s Saison du Tracteur – it’d be sacrilege to waste a drop.


1249 Queen West, at Gwynne, 416-535-8089,

Some places don’t need much of an introduction. Instead, let’s pose a question: is it a proper Toronto summer if you haven’t made a dent in the Rhino’s cache of beers on its sprawling Parkdale patio? The answer is no. Now go.


136 McCaul, at Dundas West, 416-640-9197,

Trappist fans seek out this inconspicuous pub to sip through the Belgian- and German-heavy draft list, but Sin & Redemption’s 43 taps include a well-rounded smattering of local and international suds, too. In case you’re mystified about what to sip with your moules-frites, the beer list gives tips on food pairings.


488 College, at Markham, 416-966-5050

Yes, everyone misses the quaint original location (ain’t condos a bitch?), but the College strip transplant hasn’t uprooted the bar’s true blue dedication to good brew and friendly service. Rocking 19 mostly local taps including staples and seasonals from Hogtown, Left Field, Granite, Hopping Mad and Flying Monkeys, Smokeless Joe 2.0 also has a P-A-T-I….


221 Carlton, at Berkeley, 647-344-7676,

Your options sure aren’t restricted to Guinness in Cabbagetown’s beer cave. With a solid draft list featuring seasonal delights like Wellington’s Shangri-La IPA and Muskoka Summer Weiss, Stout’s devotion to indie brew is apparent. Milwaukee’s Lakefront Bridge Burner, Great Lakes Harry Porter and Hop Head Black IPA cater to craft fans, but any drinker can cozy up to the bar and sip her pick of lovely lagers, fruit beers and gluten-free options from Glutenberg.

Jason Phillips (left), Alistaire Junio and Mike Bolam sip their Tall Boys treats.


838 Bloor West, at Shaw, 416-535-7486,

Since opening last September, Tall Boys has been atering to the tastes of Toronto’s ever-evolving craft beer scene. With six taps and a list of 63 tall boys, the Christie Pits local focuses on seasonals and one offs from Left Field, Junction Brewery, Duggan’s and Amsterdam. “We’re able to offer the West end of Toronto something that they might have to travel a bit further to find otherwise,” says owner Phil Cacace.

Tall Boys owners Phil (left) and Tom Cacace give a heads-up.

Photos by Stefania Yarhi

D’Arcy Juni sips the suds at Tequila Bookworm.


512 Queen West, at Portland, 416-504-7335

Surprised? Don’t be. Over the last three years, this Queen West mainstay has slowly transformed into a low-key spot for sampling some of Ontario’s finest brews. With 10 rotating locally dedicated taps showcasing the likes of Amsterdam, Great Lakes, Oast House and Neustadt, Tequila Bookworm also boasts one of the city’s best local cider lists.

Tequila Bookworm co-owner Jeff Caires taps in.

Photos by Stefania Yarhi


197 Baldwin, at Augusta, 647-607-0134

Besides having one of the best names ever (a reference to a Black Flag song and a nod to the space’s former life as the Market’s punk rock haven, Planet Kensington), this tiny Baldwin Street bar’s got what you want. An impressive scope of microbrews on tap and a thoughtfully mapped bottle selection make it the best watering hole in town for rare and esoteric Belgian Trappists, American micros and more. Catch Katie Whittaker, Thirsty and Miserable’s beer maven, behind the stick at Bar Hop (391 King West) most Monday nights.


581 Markham, at Lennox, 416-516-5787,

According to my (admittedly addled) memory, my inaugural sip of craft brew took place at the Vic when I was a wide-eyed U of T freshman. The West Annex’s corner café remains a popular spot for the locally inclined drinker, its 15 taps featuring staple sips from Amsterdam, Spearhead and Muskoka alongside seasonal, one-offs and experimental suds. | @s_parns

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