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Sep 28, 2010 10:42 AM

Where and What to drink in Toronto

I'm from NYC and will be travelling to Toronto next week. I am looking for a beer with a nice beer selection and am also interested in what to drink over over day that's hard to find in NYC. Any help will be welcomed.

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  1. Places to go:
    - C'est What is a pub with all Canadian micros on tap/cask (vast majority from Ontario).
    - Beerbistro is a restaurant/bar with a nice beer list, though not as many taps as C'est What. Food here is the best of the beer places in the city.
    - Volo is overall the best beer bar in the city. They always have several local options on tap/cask with a really nice bottle list as well.
    - Duggan's Brewery is a brewpub/restaurant that opened up under a year ago. Food is above standard pub food and several of their beers are quite good.
    - Mill Street Brewpub is in the distillery district in Toronto which may be worth visiting. The food is typical pub food, but the do have seasonals and casks at the brewpub.

    For specific beers to try, do you have any favourite styles? Also, did you want bottles to bring back or will you just be drinking at bars?

    8 Replies
    1. re: kwjd

      I second Beerbistro, I really like that place. You should also hop over to Beer Advocate:; use their "Beerfly" section (left hand side, under "Travel") to type in Toronto and check the "beer bar" option- you'll get lots of great suggestions.

      1. re: erin_grogan

        Hi kwjd. I will only be drinking at bars. I like different styles depending on the hankering. I tend to like rye beers, some dark lagers, certain ipas...right now i have on my fridge two dogfishhead 60 min, 1 bell's Two hearted ale, 2 Gonzos -flying dog-, and a big hop rod rye (bear republic)...just to give u and idea. i do like certain beers and they are not necessarily the same style of beer, i would like to know what do u like in Toronto - along those lines or not.

        thanks erin-grogan. I am a beer advocate reader, I just wanted hounders opinions regarding this.

        1. re: LRS

          Ok, 'll ask specific questions, hope it helps.

          There are several beer that I would like to try (friends who have been there reccomended them). At leats 3 of them are Mike Duggan #9, Granite Hopping Mad, John (imperial stout). Are they widely available?

          What I do get in NYC are several Unibroue beers, I don’t know if there is something special from Unibroue that doesn’t travel here and that I shouldn’t miss. Im not sure either if all the Unibroue selction is widely available in Toronto, I have not been in Toronto, ever.

          Antoher question: What’s the difference (in terms of beer quality, clean lines, variety of beers, ambiance) between the places you recommend above (C'est What, Beerbistro...) and a place like Smokeless Joe's? I ask because this SJ’s seems to be near where I’ll be. Is it worth it? I do not need a fancy bar or good food, even a dive will do as long as the beer selection is excellent.

          One last question. Is there any good Rye Beer in Toronto?

          I will appreciate your responses! LRS

          1. re: LRS

            All of the places I listed, plus Smokeless Joe's have always had clean tap lines from my experience.

            New York has more Unibroue products than Ontario has. All the ones available in Toronto I've seen at beer stores in Buffalo.

            Mike Duggan #9 is always available at the brewpub on Victoria Street. Granite Hopping Mad is always available at their brewpub in mid-town Toronto. Both are almost always available at C'est What on Front Street. I really enjoy Hopping Mad on cask.

            Scotch Irish John By Imperial Stout (assuming that is what you meant), is sometimes available on tap in Toronto, but not always. It may be available at bottles at some of the places I've mentioned though. There are quality control issues with this brewery sometimes. When the beer is good, it is quite nice, but sometimes they can have issues (2 weeks ago I heard a cask of this was bad at Volo).

            Smokeless Joe's is a fine place to go for a beer. It is a really small place, with about 8 taps, but the tap quality is pretty high. Last time I was there it was all local options, plus two Koningshoeven (La Trappe) beers. The bottle list probably wouldn't do much for you, though there could be a couple local bottles. If it is close to where you are staying, may as well check it out.

            1. re: LRS

              So other beers to look out for...

              Hoppy beers:
              - Black Oak 10 Bitter Years is a double IPA that is on tap/cask sometimes (could be at the beer places I've listed). It is my favourite Ontario beer ever.
              - Flying Monkeys Smashbomb IPA. Also can be on tap/cask at some of the places I've listed. This is fairly new to Ontario, not bottled yet.
              - Duggan's #99 double IPA. This has been on tap at the brewpub, plus I've seen it at C'est What and Volo. Not quite a real double IPA, but it is quite nice.
              - Great Lakes My Bitter Wife IPA and Great Lakes Lackey Caskey APA are both quite nice if you see them.

              - Mike Duggan's #5 Asian Lager is very unique and would be the best rice lager you ever try. Almost always on tap at their brewpub.
              - If you are into pilsners, this is one area where Ontario actually excels. Pilsners from Duggan's, Mill Street and King are all worth trying.

              Wheat Beers:
              - Denison's Weissbier is a great hefe. On tap at many places in Toronto.
              - Great Lakes Miami Weisse if you see it, it is a hoppy wheat beer.

              Rye Beers:
              - C'est What has a house rye beer. It is just ok in my opinion.
              - Mill Street Roggenbier is very good. I don't know if it is still on tap anywhere or not since it seemed to be a special for the summer. It may be at Mill Street Brewpub still, but I can't confirm that.

              - Some bars may have bottles of St Ambroise Imperial Stout left. Ontario seemed to be the only place outside of Quebec that got this.
              - St Ambroise Oatmeal Stout in bottles may make it to NY, but I love it on tap.
              - Durham Black Katt if you see it on tap/cask.
              - Wellington RIS is really good and available sometimes on tap/cask.
              - Mill Street Cobblestone is also good.

              I think that should give you a good start... let me know if you had questions about any other specific beers.

              1. re: kwjd

                I should also add that for any of the times I mentioned Great Lakes, it is different than the Great Lakes from Cleveland. We don't get any beers from the American Great Lakes here and none of the Canadian Great Lakes goes there.

                1. re: kwjd

                  yay, thanks a lot! Im writing it down. I'll report back.

                  1. re: LRS

                    It's been a while now, but out of curiosity, how was the trip? I hope the Ontario beer didn't underwhelm you too much!