where to go for british bitter on tap?
i have visitors from england this summer and they would like to find a good british pub where proper bitters are served (no lagers, local brews would be real nice). i am not a beer drinker myself and i only just returned to TO. any recommendations? i hear biermarket is decent but what i remember is.. not spectacular (food was better than beer?) a downtown location would be greatly appreciated (utoronto area). the kinds of places i used hangs are: greenroom (annex), paupers (annex), mill st. brew pub (distillery). we are all students and hoping to find some good cheap brit bitter in TO. THANK YOU!!
Think the Duke of Gloucester on Yonge south of Bloor would fit your profile, as well as the Queen and Beaver on Elm (maybe a bit more expensive, but good English food, nice patio too). Also the Abbott on the Hill (Yonge too, near Summerhill) is an option. Buy hey, don't take my word for it... go out tomorrow and do your own due dilligence!
You could try C'est What at the corner of Front & Church Streets. It's NOT a British pub, but they have a good selection of locally-brewed ales and a bitter or 2. I love the Cask Ale and the Coffee Porter. Not too pricey. The food is touch-and-go.
If they're British and know their beer, they'll probably be looking for cask ale. So I'd suggest that you check out the website for CASK!, a local cask ale advocacy group. It includes a list of pubs in Toronto that serve cask ale:
Of course, the cask ale available at these places may not always be a bitter, but they are almost always a UK-style ale of some sort - bitter, pale ale, IPA, stout or the like. So your friends will probably be happy.
As far as "cheap" goes, I think the most inexpensive cask pint in town is probably at Rhino, where I believe they're less than 5 bucks. And if the cask happens to have run out (which can happen), or if it's a style they don't care for, they have a good selection other local beers on draught, and halfway decent pub grub that's also dirt cheap.
The Mill St. Brewpub has a beer called ESB (Extra Special Bitter) which I find very enjoyable.
I agree with the above poster that C'est What should definitely have some examples, and all their beers are Canadian microbrews. Food is mediore, though.
The shiny new Queen & Beaver Public House is a bit pricier but they have a cask ale available (though they were "out" this week when I went). The menu is very gastropub, lots of food with a very legit British twist (blood sausage, etc.)
Bar Volo on Yonge has probably the biggest selection of imported beers in the city, and regular cask ale festivals. It's not a British Pub, though, more of an Italian Restaurant vibe (but it's cool).
The Beer Bistro near King and Yonge also has a vast beer list, and excellent food, most of which is cooked with beer in the recipe. They have beer-food pairing recommendations on the menu for all dishes, too, which is kind of neat.
Personally I don't like the Bier Markt that much; it's more of a "meat markt" and they tend to be out of many of the things on their beer list. And the service is kind of surly. But maybe that's just me.
It's always interesting trying your home country's speciality somewhere else.. but if they like beer, it might be more interesting to try what Toronto has to offer - rather than what England has to offer in Toronto. (After all, that's why we leave home in the first place)
I would suggest the Granite Brewery as one of the better local producers of British-inspired ales. The CASK website (already linked in gragclow's post) will have lots of suggestions of establishments that serve British style ales produced by our many fine microbreweries.
While I haven't been there for years, the Black Sheep Pub on Yonge north of Sheppard, used to carry Black Sheep Ale and other British beers, though not in casks. Black Sheep Ale was created by one of the Theakston's angered over what had become of Peculier after the Theakston Brewery was taken over by a major.