Food & Drink

The 16 best beer bars in Toronto

Published On 07/23/2014 Published On 07/23/2014
DUKE’S REFRESHER
Renee Suen

Sure, you can get a beer at almost any bar -- but the noble hop has come a long way in the last decade, and now tastebuds have become accustomed to everything from nanobrews to sessionals, local or international ales, lagers, stouts, or porters. Well, this is the city’s master list for where to find all of them...

Renee Suen

3030 Dundas West

The Junction
Crowd-friendly and unpretentious, 3030’s large space doesn’t just entertain with board games and vintage pinball tables, but also a stage for live bands. Besides spirits and cocktails, there’s a tight list of daily changing craft beers -- many of them local, and sometimes there’re a few that are rather unusual. 
What you're drinking: Mill Street’s 100th Meridian

Renee Suen

Bar Volo

Church and Wellesley
It’s where the city’s beer lovers go to find the best selection of local and international brews. Volo’s collection boasts about 125 of the best bottled beers, 26 draughts, and three additional taps focused strictly on house ales. 
What you're drinking: Muskoka Detour Session IPA

Bar Hop

Bar Hop

Entertainment District
With its 36 craft brews on tap, and a rotating selection of rare, collaborative, and seasonal numbers, it’s pretty easy to see why beer enthusiasts gravitate towards this Downtown gem. The bar is also the 2013 winner of Ontario’s Golden Tap Awards (for having the best taps), which shows their commitment to having stuff on draught. 
What you're drinking: Amsterdam Tempest Imperial Stout

Renee Suen

beerbistro

Financial District
Not only a watering hole for Bay Streeters, but also a great, unintimidating place to kick-start your beer-education. Besides having draught flights that let you sample a trio of beers, their list of 20 draught numbers and over a hundred bottles are broken down by characteristics (i.e. appetizing, satisfying, or robust).
What you're drinking: Collective Arts Rhyme & Reason ("lying somewhere between an IPA and a pale ale")

Renee Suen

Bellwoods Brewery

Trinity-Bellwoods
It’s not just the white picket fence surrounding the patio that separates the brewpub from others on this restaurant-rich strip of Ossington; it’s the beer (duh). From seasonal to house-brewed beers, there’re adventurous selections available onsite, and there's even a retail shop to boot. 
What you're drinking: Their house-brewed Dry-Hopped Berliner Weisse

Bier Markt

Bier Markt

Multiple locations
Quench your thirst on over 150 beers from over 30 countries at any of the bar’s four GTA locations. Besides hosting a mainly European list, there’s also a monthly, limited-available rotating draught. They also carry a relatively impressive range of non-alcoholic and gluten-free beers, so teetotalers and celiacs aren’t left out.
What you're drinking: Dan, their Operations Manager, personally recommends Hasseroder, "which is a classic German Pils-style beer from the Hasseroder lager yeast strain".

C'est What

C'est What

St. Lawrence
Toronto’s first craft beer bar is set in the cellar of a 19th century building -- the space is fully loaded with a pair of fire places, board games, pool tables, and TV areas; it’s even home to the Internet radio station, whatsnext.ca. But beer aficionados are likely to tune into the 42 craft beers -- Canadian only -- they have on tap, including eight cask ales and house brews such as Coffee Porter, Homegrown Hemp Ale, Al's Cask Ale, and the award-winning mild ale, Joan's Dark Secret.
What you're drinking: Joan’s Dark Secret

Renee Suen

Duke's Refresher + Bar

Bay Street Corridor
With over 40 different domestic, craft, and premium draughts that span from approachable Canadian, to smaller craft brews and one-offs, Downtown’s newest beer bar is a both casual and rowdy space to take a pint, or opt for a beer flight (prices range from $1.19-$1.42 for each 3oz sample). They’ve even got something called the Einstein Club, where members net a year’s worth of discounts on beer and a personalized beer stein -- that’s on permanent display behind the bar -- to use on each visit.
What you're drinking: Black Oak's Summer Saison

Granite Brewery

Granite Brewery

Mount Pleasant East
Those seeking traditional English-style ales need to go no further than this Midtown, family-run brewpub. It's been around for almost a quarter century, and slings nine home brews available by the growler/keg. It’s here that you can find their award-winning Hopping Mad, one of Ontario’s best cask ales according to the Golden Tap Awards.
What you're drinking: Hopping Mad (American Pale).

Flickr user alljengi

The Only Cafe

The Danforth
Contrary to its moniker, The Only Café isn’t known for coffee, but as a well-loved, laid-back institution that’s stocked with over 230 bottles, 24 rotating local craft brews on tap, and a cask for good measure. Besides hosting a great selection of Le Trou Du Diable bottles, they also offer a five-beer flight for around $10, which makes it easier to run through the bar’s insane lineup.
What you're drinking: L'ours North American Wild Ale (brewed using naturally occurring yeasts)

Real Sports

Real Sports Bar & Grill

Waterfront
Hailed as one of the country’s best sports bars -- a 25,000sqft space that’s equipped with 199 HD TVs and a 39ft HD big screen -- Real’s mantra of go big or go home doesn’t just extend to the varieties of award-winning wings (14) and burgers (11) that it serves, but also draughts. With a staggering 114 beer taps (the most in Toronto), it’s easy to forgive the fact that their selection skews towards big brewers and imports versus craft. But don’t just take our word for it; it’s also a favorite of David Chang, he of Momofuku fame.
What you're drinking: Hops & Bolts (India Pale Lager)


Town Crier Pub Entertainment District
Looking to suck back some Trappist beers while people watching on a large patio? We’re talking dubbels, tripels, blondes, Chimays and more. If the answer’s yes, then this could be your new stomping ground. The selection of bottles and taps is largely European, skewing towards Belgium and Germany, but there is a handful of Canadian options for the patriotic.
What you're drinking: Delirium Tremens

Renee Suen

Sin & Redemption

Kensington-Chinatown
Besides taking residence directly across from St. Patrick’s Catholic Church (ah, the battle between virtue and vice), this European-style pub is best known for the Belgian beers that dominate its 43 draught lines. Bonus for the budget conscious: the prices here are all a relative bargain compared to other beer bars Downtown.
What you're drinking: Maredsous 8 Brune

Tallboys Craft Beer House

Tallboys Craft Beer House

Bloorcourt Village
Specializing exclusively in Ontario brews, this self-proclaimed craft beer house carries the largest selection -- 70 of them, in fact -- in the city. The list features seasonals and one-offs from ales to pilsners, Weissbier, stouts, IPAs, and ciders. Basically, if it’s from Ontario, it’s here. And while they have every characteristic of a sports bar -- TVs broadcasting sports, the vibe of a sports bar, they serve beer and food like a sports bar -- they’re not a sports bar. Remember, it’s a craft beer house.
What you're drinking: Amsterdam Boneshaker unfiltered IPA (it's from Ontario, swear)

Facebook/Victory Cafe

Victory Cafe

Palmerston
Mirvish Village’s intimate English-style pub is a local hotspot that features 15 taps focused purely on Ontario craft beer and cask ales. If Celtic music Thursdays or live jazz Fridays doesn’t appeal, then maybe sitting in one of the patio’s 50 seats under the shade of a canopy of trees will.
What you're drinking: Durham Red Dragon

Renee Suen

WVRST

Fashion District
Part of the draw may be for the great selection of mainly Ontario- and Quebec-produced beers (bottles, cans, taps), but this modern brew hall also specializes in artisan sausages in all meat types and flavours. No, seriously. Besides pork, lamb, beef, and veal, there’s standard chicken and game changers like venison, bison, elk, and kangaroo that’s spiked with herbs or spices, fruit, cheese, or vegetables. 
What you're drinking: Church-Key's Holy Smoke (smoked beer)

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1. 3030 Dundas West 3030 Dundas St West, Toronto, M6P (Junction Triangle)

The large space inside 3030 isn't just filled with board games and vintage pinball machines, it also plays host to numerous live bands. And if that's not enough to draw you in, their craft beer list changes daily and many of them are locally brewed right in Toronto.

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2. Bar Volo 587 Yonge St, Toronto, M4Y 1Z4 (The Church And Wellesley)

Bar Volo boasts the region's best selection of beer, offering more than 125 in bottles and many more on tap.

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3. Bar Hop 391 King St W, Toronto, M5V 1K1

Look no further than their 36 rotating craft ales on tap -- but if you really want to, they also have more than 100 bottles of rare and seasonal beers and sharable bar snacks.

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4. beerbistro 18 King St E, Toronto, M5C 1C4

Besides having draught flights that lets you sample a trio of beers, this Financial District bar has a list of 20 draught beers and over a hundred bottles that are broken down by characteristics, i.e. appetizing, satisfying, or robust. So even if you’re a beer novice, you’re given all the tools to become an expert in no time flat.

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5. Bellwoods Brewery 124 Ossington Ave, Toronto, M6J 2Z5

Small-batch beer and quality food have been Bellwood’s mission since opening in 2012. This craft brewery has a rotating list of taps highlighting their own creations as well as those of other local brewers which changes seasonally or according to demand. Reserve bottles, kept back from popular batches or brewed specially, are available for a higher (but worthwhile) price. The candle-lit bar setting and patio adorned with fairy lights befit its hip Ossington location, as does its long wait at peak times, but the food and the drinks are stunning. Small plates and snackable bar food keep the focus where it should be—on the beer.

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6. Bier Markt 58 The Esplanade, Toronto, M5E 1R2

With four locations, Bier Markt makes it easy to visit no matter where you are in the city. And you'll wanna visit after knowing they all feature a menu loaded with tasty meats and sandwiches, and of course, more than 150 kinds of beer.

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7. C'est What 67 Front St E, Toronto, M5E 1B5

C'est What was Toronto's first craft beer bar, and it's located in the cellar of a 19th century building in St. Lawrence. It brings the entertainment with board games, pool tables, and TVs and they have 42 craft brews (Canadian only) to choose from.

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8. Duke's Refresher + Bar 382 Yonge St, Unit 8, Toronto, M5B 1S8

With more than 40 different domestic, craft, and premium draughts that span from approachable Bud and Canadian, to smaller craft brews and one-offs, this Downtown bar is both a casual and rowdy space to take a pint, or opt for a beer flight (prices range from $1.19-$1.42 for each 3oz sample).

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9. Granite Brewery 245 Eglinton Ave E, Toronto, M4P 3B7

This Toronto brewery is family run and they're known to produce some of Ontario’s best cask ale.

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10. The Only Cafe 972 Danforth Ave, Toronto, M4J 1L9 (The Danforth)

Contrary to its name, The Only Café isn’t known for coffee, but for being a well-loved, laid-back brewstitution that’s slinging more 230 bottles, 24 rotating local craft brews on tap, and a cask for good measure.

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11. Real Sports Bar & Grill 15 York St, Toronto, M5J 0A3

A haven for all things Jays, Leafs, and Raptors, this Entertainment District sports bar has you covered with classic bar bites -- such as the popular foot-long hot dog wrapped in bacon -- a 39-foot HD big screen, and over 126 draught taps. A list of cocktails is also available, but we suggest the Puck Bunny -- a mix of raspberry vodka, cassis, pomegranate juice, lemonade, and soda.

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12. Town Crier Pub 115 John St, Toronto, M5V 2E2

If the pinnacle of pleasure for you is sitting back and sipping a cold brew on a large patio (which it should be), then you should seriously consider doing it at this Entertainment District bar, which features a large selection of European beers on tap and in bottles, and a handful of Canadian options as well.

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13. Sin & Redemption 136 McCaul St, Toronto, M5T 1W2 (Kensington Market)

This Euro-pub in Kensington is known far and wide for their selection of beers from Belgium (43 of 'em!), and they all come at a relative bargain compared to other brew bars in the area.

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14. Tallboys Craft Beer House 838 Bloor St W, Toronto, M6G 1M2 (Dovercourt Park)

This Bloorcourt Village brew house carries more craft beers than anyone in the city, topping out at 70 (!). The menu features seasonals and one-offs from ales to pilsners, Weissbier, stouts, IPAs, and ciders.

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15. Victory Cafe 581 Markham St, Toronto, M6G 2L7

This cozy English-style pub boasts 15 taps focused on Ontario craft brews and cask ales, plus they have a shady 50-seat patio AND Celtic music Thursdays and live jazz Fridays.

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16. WVRST 609 King St W, Toronto, M5V 1M5 (Niagara)

Located in the Entertainment District, WVRST serves a wide variety of dogs and sausages, from traditional bratwursts to fancy kangaroo, pheasant or elk varieties, with toppings such as sautéed onions and sweet peppers. The space likens a traditional German beer hall, with wide communal tables, dim lighting, and of course, plenty of bottled, canned, and on tap beer.

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