Toronto is experiencing a serious craft beer boom with new breweries opening up on what feels like a monthly basis. This is great news for beer fans and anyone interested in beer beyond the basics – as in trying brews that offer serious variety and creativity where flavour is concerned. Whether you want to take some beer home to enjoy on your own, or grab a seat and taste a flight of beer, many of Toronto’s craft breweries also have tap rooms or have opened full brew pubs where you can sit back and relax with some food while you knock back a beer or two. Whether you’re into IPAs, lagers, pilsners, stouts or something in between, there’s a place to find it being brewed with care in Toronto. Here are 10 craft breweries to check out in the city.
If the adorable branding doesn’t grab your attention, the beer certainly will. Open since May, Bandit Brewery in Roncesvalles is currently brewing 15 beers, eight of which are on tap when I visit. The sprawling space is a hive of activity on a Saturday night with servers weaving in between tables of happy beer drinkers to deliver flights and food. There’s also an expansive front patio filled with picnic tables, which gets quickly filled. Salty snacks, like the beer battered cheese curds (highly recommended) are available to pair with your beer. The roster currently contains a Belgian Pale Ale, Wiezen Up (a German-style wheat ale) and the very easy drinking Farmed and Dangerous infused with coriander and orange peel.
Tiny Halo Brewery is tucked away on Wallace Ave. in the Junction Triangle and the tap room makes good use of its small space. A few snacks, like soft pretzels and scones, are on offer but otherwise it’s all about the beer. Callum Hay and Eric Portelance began as homebrewers and are now making creative beers for the masses. Well, maybe not the masses, but they are making a lot of beer-drinking city dwellers happy with their unique flavour combinations and commitment to pushing themselves to create beers you might not find anywhere else. In another unique twist, all the beer recipes are listed on the site so you can really get an idea of what you’re drinking.
Burdock has a lot going on – it’s a restaurant, a music hall and it also happens to be brewing some of the best beers in the city. Go to catch some live music or sit down to a meal made with local, seasonal ingredients; but stay for the beer (or grab some to go from the bottle shop). Burdock brewed their first batch of beer in July 2015 and have been going strong ever since. Available beers rotate, but the crisp, refreshing West Coast Pilsner is a consistent bet.
Parkdale is home to Duggan’s Brewery, led by Michael Duggan who happens to be Canada’s most award-winning brewmaster over the last 15 years. They’re constantly brewing small batches of seasonal beers, but some on the regular roster include an Irish stout, German Pilsner, raspberry Weiss, hefeweizen and an American Pale Ale. Enjoy your beer in the expansive restaurant with a menu that changes seasonally, but is comprised of pub favourites like nachos and wings and smaller snacks to share.
Henderson Brewing Co.
Take a walk or bike ride along the West Toronto Railpath and have a rest stop at Henderson Brewing Co. Founded by three beer-loving partners in 2014 with a combined 70 yeas in the business, the award-winning brewery is home to a cavernous tap room where you can sample what’s on offer including flagship beer, Henderson’s Best, their twist on take on a classic ESB.
Indie Ale House
The Junction’s Indie Ale House is a small, independent craft brewery putting their creativity and love of beer to good use in creating a selection of brews that veer off the traditional path – in a good way. The always-busy restaurant is where you’ll find elevated pub fare, hearty mains perfect for soaking up the beer and crispy, thin crust pizzas.
The one that started it all is Amsterdam, which was Toronto’s very first craft brewery. The Amsterdam Brasserie and Brew Pub opened up on John Street in 1986, the first venue of its kind in the city. Now there’s a brewery in Leaside Village where you can stop in for a tour and the more recently opened Amsterdam BrewHouse by the lake. The BrewHouse is where you can sip one of the brewerie's many craft beers on the expansive waterfront patio, ideally from a Muskoka chair.
As soon as Bellwoods Brewery opened its doors on Ossington Ave. in 2012 it was an instant hit. The small brewery has a roster of staple beers in constant production, but they’re also steadily experimenting with tons of other beers so there’s always something new to try or buy to take home from the bottle shop. The creative menu serves seasonal fare in the form of snacks, salads and a few larger entrees, depending on what you’re in the mood for. Bellwoods is currently expanding to two more facilities, one on Hafis Road and one on Dupont at Ossington.
Rainhard Brewing Co.
You’ll find Rainhard Brewing Co. in the Stockyards neighbourhood of Toronto, housed in an old 1940s-style manufacturing plant. Brewmaster and founder Jason Rainhard started off in the corporate world, but then shifted his attention to beer, starting as a homebrewer and who is now an award-winning pro. Stop by the tap room to try a few, which currently include a black IPA, West Coast IPA, Roggenbier (German rye larger), Czech style pilsner, farmhouse ale among other lovingly crafted small batch brews.
Junction Craft Brewing
Founded in 2011, Junction Craft Brewing is well known for their signature brew, Conductor’s Craft Ale, a popular sipper made with five types of malt and five types of hops using a hybrid of brewing techniques. In addition, they brew a variety of styles you can find in their tap room and retail store. Conductor’s Craft Ale is available in the LCBO along with their award winning Brakeman’s Session Ale and Tracklayer’s Kolsch.