Toronto Brew Pubs?
With their House Ales in full swing and only getting better, the best brew pub is Volo. hands down. don't even list a 2nd or 3rd option. :)
As aser said, a potential knight in shining armour is Bellwoods. I'm incredibly optimistic that Bellwoods will be an integral part of the Toronto brewing scene. The next wave of beer - sours and funk - will hopefully be done by Bellwoos, Great Lakes Brewery's Project X line and Volo's House Ales.
The 3 Brewers at Yonge and Dundas is very good, though I wouldn't call their beer the best. They definitely have the best location and price for their beer. One problem is that it's always crowded, nothing surprising since it is in the heart of downtown.
The 3 Brewer's
275 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M5B 2H1, CA
Granite. Mt Pleasant & Eglinton.
Volo. Yonge & Dundonald (one street north of Wellesley)
Burger Bar. Kensington Market (as far as I know, just one beer, Kensington Ale)
Mill St. Distillery District.
C'est What. Front & Church. Not a brewpub in the classic sense, they don't brew on premise but Durham Brewing does their house brews.)
Can't think of any others. I'm sure someone will. :-)
There are more coming online soon. One in the Junction and one on Ossington.
The one on Ossington is opening soon, hopefully by next month. They're going to be doing more adventurous stuff, like sours! Colour me excited.
Can't wait till the combo punch of Tien Thanh + Bellwoods, bliss.
I've heard the Junction spot has had a lot of problems w/ construction. I hope they overcome these adversities and pull through. It's always exciting to see folks innovating in the craft beer scene of Toronto. What with all the restrictions/bureaucracy involved with Beer Store/LCBO.
Is Mill St still brewing anything at the Distillery?
Regardless, it qualifies as a brew pub I suppose in that there are beers available there that you can't get anywhere else. But the food is terrible and last time I went, during Ontario Craft Beer week no less, the server could not have been less interested in listing their beers, let alone telling us about them. "Well we have lots of beers. Oh you want to know about them? I'll get you the list" (stomps off). I went with an open mind because I do like their Tank House and Wit but the place has lost any semblance of a brew pup for me.
I do realize you weren't recommending the place Lister, just adding my thoughts for the OP.
As a local, I've pretty much stopped going to the Mill St for the reasons you explain: it's just a tourist trap these days. Unless you can go at a very odd time (say between meal times on a weekday in January) the staff tend to be run off their feet and don't have time to pretend to care about the beer. It's get 'em in, get 'em out. Victim of their own success, I suppose.