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Best Bar or Resto for Beer-ophiles

Have a beer snob from the U.S. visiting for a few days and wanted to take him to a few local bars that feature outstanding beers on tap (especially Ontario microbrews). Other than C'est What and the Bier Markt any suggestions for Toronto

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  1. Beerbistro
    Mill St. Brewery

    1. Second the Mill St. Brewery suggestion. Also would suggest the Rebel House. They have a great selection of Cdn beer on tap. They also make a great poutine.

      1. I'd recommend a tour of Steam Whistle - right downtown, and then you could head off to any of the other recs for dinner. It is a beautiful building - and I do love the beer!

        1. We've taken beerophiles to Volo (587 Yonge Street). They have some neat stuff, especially cask beers. The appetizers (that I've tried) are good, but can't comment on the mains.

          1. i recommend smokeless joe on john between richmond and adelaide. the food is meh but the selection of beer is fantastic. the staff are all true knowledgeable beerophiles

            1. Here are my opinions on the most well-known "beer-o-phile" places you'll probably hear about in Toronto. Roughly in order of my personal preferences, yours may vary :)

              - Smokeless Joe. 125 John St north of Adelaide. A tiny and cozy hole-in-the-wall pub with an enormous beer list. The vast majority is in bottles, but they always have a few choice and interesting things on tap. Focus is very much on international beers, but they also have a lot of Canadian micros. Small but decent food menu that revolves around oysters and some sandwiches. This is a place where pretty much every seat is at the actual bar, and a good place to strike up conversation with strangers (a rarity in Toronto). Used to be a novelty for being "smoke free," but now that's mandatory by law in all bars in Toronto anyway. http://www.bartowel.com/regions/pubs/...

              - Beer Bistro - 18 King St. East, east of Yonge. A great place that is known for both the vast beer selection and excellent food. Almost all dishes incorporate beer into the recipe in some way. It's a really beautiful space, and has a small patio, but since it's near the financial district it can be very busy on Thursday and Friday evenings with the after-work crowd. http://www.beerbistro.com

              - C'est What? - 67 Front St. East at Church St. Large basement pub done up very rustically with stone walls and wood beams. Two large bars with different sets of draught taps, and a large beer list that is almost exclusively Canadian, so if you want to try Canadian microbrews (rather than "Molson Canadian" or "Labatt Blue" or other similar swill) this is the place. Mediocre food in my opinion, but I've heard the burgers and sweet potato fries are passable. Also they have a lot of live music in the one half, usually Canadian folk/roots musicians and similar acoustic indie stuff. http://www.cestwhat.com

              - Bar Volo - 587 Yonge St. north of Wellesley St.. Another huge beer list, with a big focus on Belgian beers. Cool atmosphere, small patio, doubles as an Italian restaurant with serviceable but not outstanding food. http://www.barvolo.com

              - Granite Brewery - 245 Eglinton East, at Mount Pleasant. This brewpub is the second of two locations, after the original in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Haven't been for a couple years, but I believe they still brew all their beer on premises. The tanks are visible behind glass. They sell only their own beers, which are interesting brews that are definitely designed for those with a more adventurous taste in beer... try the Peculiar Ale! Food is not bad. And they have two patios, one in front and one in back. http://www.granitebrewery.ca

              - Mill St. Brew Pub - Distillery District. They only sell their own microbrews there, which I believe are now brewed off-site. But they make a lot of different types, and most are quite unique and good. Something for everyone. Beautiful large space. The food is run-of-the-mill pub fare (pun not intended). http://www.millstreetbrewpub.ca/

              - Esplanade Bier Markt - 58 The Esplanade, west of Church St. Large beer list of mostly international and Belgian beers. Lots on tap. But the restaurant is highly overrated, and the place has a reputation of being something of a "meet market" for young office types. The focus is really not on the beer here. With the Beer Bistro, C'est What, and Mill St. Brew Pub all within easy walking distance, I'd give this place a pass. http://www.thebiermarkt.com

              3 Replies
                1. re: Googs

                  The Fat Belgian on John Street has an awesome array and yummy food - try the steak frites with blue cheese!

                  1. re: micheemee

                    Gotta disagree with you on the Fat Belgian. Four of us went there a couple of months ago and were very disappointed by the food - almost everything was oversalted - and the service. And aside from one or two beers, pretty much everything on their beer menu is available elsewhere for less. If I'm in that area and in the mood for beer & mussels, I stick with Smokeless Joe just a couple of doors over.

              1. I agree with the recommendations so far. I'll add the Bow & Arrow (1954 Yonge St. at Davisville) as a friendly neighbourhood pub with a great selection of Ontario microbrews.


                1. Honestly, for a true beer snob, Volo is a must-visit. They have cask-conditioned real ales, which many of the others recommended here can't claim.

                  Food is decent, I had a seafood pasta there that I quite liked.

                  For the best combo of great food and loads of beers, Beerbistro all the way.

                  1. Not much to add to what's already been recommended. I'll just say that C'est What is your best bet for Ontario microbrews, Volo is an absolute must visit, and Bier Markt is pretty overrated.

                    And while it's not really a "destination" sort of place, if you happen to be in the west end of downtown, Rhino near Queen & Dufferin is worth a visit. It's a neighbourhood pub with decent food, a good selection of micros on tap (including one cask ale), 200+ bottles, and astoundingly cheap prices compared to the places in the core. I'm very glad that I live around the corner from them... :)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: gregclow

                      Sounds like Ciro's on Bloor at Lansdowne. Pretty good selection of beer and not bad prices. Probably has the highest quality of beer list/dodgy neighbourhood ratio in the city. Probably not somewhere for tourists unless they've got sharp elbows.

                      1. re: mikeb

                        Yeah, Rhino does have a bit of the same "unexpected for the neighbourhood" vibe as Ciro's - although with the Drake and the Gladstone just over the train tracks, Rhino isn't quite as out-of-place now as they were 10 years ago.