Yes, I know it’s March, but we got a taste of spring last week that I’m clinging to, so bear with me here.
It’s probably pretty well established by now that beer is truly a summer beverage (my dad, who generally only drinks Stella to my chagrin, refuses to drink it unless it’s hot out), though people like me find something to imbibe with year-round. It’s undeniable though, that there is truly something about a cold beer on a hot day that is unlike any other feeling. Your writing team at TBP are huge fans of beer as a social beverage, and on that note, I was inspired to write about my personal favourite spots to grab a pint in the warm seasons. Note of course that these are my picks for the reasons listed, and though these are the first of many spots I’d recommend, there is no WAY that this list is exhaustive. Please see Chris’ Better Beer Bar map for great places that may be more local to you to get some wonderful Ontario Craft Beer.
Anyway, moving forward!
Left Field Brewery –Gerrard/Greenwood
Baseball is pretty synonymous with summer, so it makes sense that this baseball-themed brewery, where the huge garage door opens in summer for a pseudo-patio, is a hot spot for both locals and tourists alike. You’ll find some of Toronto’s best beer here – from the roasty Eephus brown ale, to the Maris* pale ale and through all of their seasonal offerings, Mark and Mandie’s team at Left Field have created not only one of Toronto’s best breweries, but a bustling community hub for families, couples, groups, and doggos. Complete with a great tap list (that rotates with seasonal offerings) as well as a bring-your-own-food friendly atmosphere, Left Field is the complete package for all demographics looking for a fun summer afternoon. I live at College and Ossington, so this is a quick ride on the 506 streetcar for me.
Rainhard Brewery – St.Clair/Symes
Accuse me of suffering from fanboy-ism, but Rainhard is making some of the best beer around. I have noted before that I believe Hop Cone Syndrome, an IIPA, is the best hop-forward beer I have ever had in the time I’ve spent in Ontario beer (next batch out week of March 19). The team recently adopted the use of short cans for their core offerings of Pilsner and Armed N’Citra Pale ale, which is a fairly unique choice in Toronto brewers. Their tap room is gorgeous – bar and barrel seating and standing room, and if you hang out by the huge windows and open garage door right next to the brite tanks, it’s a really cool, industrial spot to have great beer and shoot the breeze with Jordan, Derek, and sometimes Andrew (who has been there every time I’ve visited). Ask for True Grit Brett Saison if you can, and if not, go with the Pilsner or Hop Cone Syndrome.
Blood Brothers Brewing – Dovercourt/Dupont
Blood Brothers was once located in a very small hallway in a pretty nondescript industrial complex. It has since moved to a bigger hallway (haha) and a bigger production brewery, where Paradise Lost and Torch can continue to shine. Their stylish and bright taproom, reminiscent to me of what a Pharaoh’s tap room would look like, is sure to shine this summer, with extensive taplists and bottles to go. Try the Torch and the painfully underappreciated Shumei IPA.
Folly Brewpub – College/Dovercourt
Christina and Chris’ beers are pretty close to my heart, as they make variations of Farmhouse and Saison beers, my favourite style. This particular brewpub shines both because of the wide range of flavours their beer offers at a time, but also because of chef Anthony’s inspired menu. Lunch or dinner is eaten well here, with my recent favourite being the Sticky Ribs. I also like the different Why Not Wednesdays, which offers a unique off-menu dish that any of the staff will help you pair with a beer. Go and get dinner and a Flemish Cap, their old world Saison; or to annoy everyone, ask when Mise En Saison will be back.
Bellwoods Brewery – Queen/Ossington
To not include the OG Bellwoods spot in this list would be remiss. Bellwoods has been making award-winning beer for a while now, and they aren’t slowing down any time soon. Recently expanding with an absolutely massive production brewery in North York at Hafis Road, Bellwoods has never seen more volume (and this summer is predicted to not close their bottle shop because they have no beer to sell, which has been a problem in past years). Their barrel program has expanded as well, which will hopefully bring us more greatest hits like Motley Cru, Grandma’s Boy, and the ever-elusive Skeleton Key. Their patio at Ossington is sublime, with muted tones and candles on every slightly-worn-in picnic bench. Get Farmageddon if you can, with the falafel lettuce wraps, and bring all your friends.
Bar Hop Brewco – Richmond/Peter
Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch of BarHop’s newest beer collabs, which are made both on site at Bar Hop brewco and in collaboration with Amsterdam Brewery. Brewco has a particularly gorgeous patio on the roof, where they offer up more than 25 taps of amazing Ontario, US, and International beers as well as snack or family-style fare that is some of the best in town. It’s usually pretty busy, so try to get there before day’s end at 5PM, but it’s worth a decent wait. Try Tremolo #2, a brett saison, and bring your sunglasses. Patio should open whenever the temperature is pretty consistent.
Agree? Disagree? Did I miss something better? Sound off on Twitter or Instagram to me, @beermostly.