Follow beer writer, Troy Burtch, as he explores the wonderful world of craft beer and the pubs that serve it. Great Canadian Beer is a place to come to catch up on beer news, read tasting notes, check out event listings, and for pub previews and reviews.


Toronto Pub Crawl Series

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

List of Pubs Featured in the Seven Part Toronto Pub Crawl Series

Ok, I had some fun with the seven day Toronto Pub Crawl series I put together, and I look forward to hitting the streets and recreating them in the near future (when the patio weather arrives again). 

I received a good amount of emails from readers stating everything from their agreeiance with the lists to those that disagree with some of the places mentioned.  It has be nice to hear from so many people.  But one thing I didn't receive over the last seven days was a list of crawls that other people have put together.  If there are more out there, please feel free to leave a comment or send me  with your recommendations.  Spreading the good word about quality pubs benefits everyone.

One thing I was asked for was to post a full list of pubs mentioned along with their links.  Ask and you shall receive.  *Note, some places don't have their own website and the pubs are listed in no particular order.

Cam's Place -

Twisted Kilt -

The Longest Yard -

Granite Brewery -

Highway 61 -

C'est What -

beerbistro -
more after the jump....

Toronto Pub Crawl Part 7 - Dundas West/Kensington/College

Part 7 - Dundas West/Kensington/College

This is it, the final installment of the Toronto Pub Crawl series.  We have explored Toronto East, the DanforthLeaside,DowntownYonge Street, stops along the Bloor TTC subway line, and now we will venture off to the Dundas West/Kensington/College area of Toronto. 

Before I being, though, I know I'll probably take some heat for not including a crawl along Queen West or along the Ossington Strip, but I felt that the way I set the criteria I couldn't put together a solid list.  I wanted to include The Rhino and The Acedemy of Spherical Arts, but it didn't work out that way.  Go visit them regardless, they're both great spots to have a pint.
Now, back to the final crawl.  The first stop belongs to Sin & Redemption on McCaul Street, just north of Dundas W.  Here you'll find numerous imports on tap, some that are hard to find like Delirium Tremens and Weihenstephaner Hefe-Weiss.

When you're done your pint head to D'Arcy Street and walk west for 12 minutes to Spadina and then head north to Baldwin and south on Augusta.  Head into the Kensingston area and grab a pint of King Pilsner or a McAuslan product at The Embassy Bar, a comfy spot that caters to mostly young urbanites.

The third stop belongs to Ronnie's Local 069, a true local with a mean Grilled Cheese.  To get there from The Embassy Bar walk north on Augusta Ave to Nassau St and the pub is right there on the corner.  Grab a pint of craft beer (Great Lakes, Cameron's, Stratford) and head out to the large street-side patio.  This unpretentious pub is a great spot to relax with friends, but beware, the hours go by quickly at this pub. 

The Kensington area is a nice place to go for a stroll, so continue north on Augusta from Ronnie's Local 069 to College Street and turn west on College.  On the north side of the street you'll come across The Cloak & Dagger, a pub with many Ontario beers on tap.  There was a time I didn't care for the Cloak, but I've since come around to appreciate their uniqueness.  Also, it's only one of a handful of places in Toronto where you can get a pint from Northumberland'sChurch Key Brewery, including their Holy Smoke.

And the last stop on the last crawl belongs to Magpie Cafe, a small pub on Dundas West, just east of Euclid Street.  Magpie hasn't been around that long, but they have a healthy following and have shown their committment to serving local craft beers from breweries in and around the GTA.  They're also part of Toronto's Cask Ale trail, which seems to be growing all the time.  Local art graces the wall along with a handful of knick-knacks that were probably once destined for trash, but together the mis-mash creates a cool vibe.

So there you have it - over 30 pubs in seven different areas of the city.  What are you doing this weekend? 

*Sin & Redemption -
*The Embassy Bar -
*Ronnie's Local -
*Cloak & Dagger -
*Magpie -

Monday, March 22, 2010

Toronto Pub Crawl - Stops Along the Bloor Subway Route

Part 6 - Stops Along the Bloor Subway Route

Part 6 of the Toronto Pub Crawl involves riding the red rocket, so a day pass will be in order.  Each pub listed is right near a stop along the Bloor subway route and there isn't a whole lot of walking to be done.

We'll start the crawl at the famous Madison Avenue Pub.   Take the Bloor train to Spadina, get off, and walk east to Madison and then proceed to walk north to the huge seven floor establishment.  I put this first on the list because I recommend getting there early before the large crowds show up.  Sit at the bar on the second floor or in one of the cozy booths and have a pint or two.  There is some local beers on tap, but most belong to the big boys.

Head back to the Spadina subway station and get back on the west-bound train to Bathurst Street.  The next stop on the list belongs to Kilgours Bar Meets Grill, a Montreal Canadians supporter's bar right on Bloor street, just east of Bathurst.  Sit out on the patio during the nice weather or take a seat inside and enjoy a solid pint of Black Oak's Pale Ale.

The next stop does not involve using the subway, as our third stop takes us back west on Bloor to Markham Street and down to the Victory Cafe in Mirvish Village.  The Victory features a number of local craft beers, cask ale, and a solid food menu that will completely satisfy your hunger.  I recommend a pint of cask with the Victory's pulled pork sandwich.  They also have a great street side wrap-around patio with a fair bit of shade to ward off the heat from the sun.

Back to the Bathurst subway station and head west for a number of stops until Dundas West.  Get off and walk west on Bloor until you get to the Irish pub, Whelan's Gate.  Head upstairs to the bar and order a McAuslan Pale Ale and mingle with people who call the Whelan's Gate their local.  This pub caters to all societies of drinkers, young and old, white collar - blue collar, which makes for a good drinking environment.

And the last stop - Bryden's at Jane and Bloor.  Take the subway from Dundas West to Jane and Bryden's is right there on the corner.  The draught menu has gone through major changes in the last year as they've taken off the bland lagers and national products in favour of local beers like Duggan's No.9 IPA, Denison's Weissbier, Great Lakes Devil's Pale Ale, and more.  Bryden's owner has also recently welcomed real ale into his pub, tapping a new cask each Thursday.  And try the quesadill-EH.  Fantastic.

*The Madison House -
*Kilgours Bar Meets Grill -
*Victory Cafe -
*Whelan's Gate -
*Bryden's -

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Toronto Pub Crawl - Leaside

Part 5 - Leaside (Bayview/Eglinton/Davisville):

This pub crawl involves walking and a TTC day pass, so I suggest starting in the early afternoon in order to get around to each place I recommend.

The Leaside area isn't known for good beer establishments, other than the Granite Brewery, a Toronto landmark, but things are slowly starting to evolve - just enough that a pub crawl could happen in this part of town.

The first stop of the Leaside pub crawl would be Cam's Place up at reet.  Take the subway to either Lawrence and walk south from the station or get off at the Eglinton subway station and walk north.  Cam's Place is new to the Toronto pub scene and offers a number of local beer on draught along with a number of imports that can be enjoyed at their comforting bar on the first floor.

Back to the TTC and head to the Davisville station for the second stop on the crawl - The Twisted Kilt, just north of the station and situated in the same building as the now defunct Bow & Arrow pub that served as a craft beer haven for years (until going downhill in recent years).  The Kilt opened back in October of '09 with has done a pretty decent job of keeping beer drinkers happy with their selections, which include a number of Ontario produced beersUnibroue beers (including a rotating Unibroue tap line) and a number of imports like Fuller's, Marston's, and Warsteiner.

Get back out to Yonge Street and head north to Belsize Drive.  Walk for 0.8 kms east on Belsize to Mt. Pleasant and you'll find the third stop on the crawl - The Longest Yard.  This addition to the list may surprise some of you, what with the lack of beer from small local producers, but the Longest Yard offers a good spot for a pint after walking from The Twisted Kilt.  There is Guinness, Leffe, Steam Whistle, and Creemore on tap, so that should tie you over until the fourth location.

The Granite Brewery is the fourth stop on the list and the one place you may not wish to leave after downing a pint of Ron Keefe's Best Bitter Special (BBS) on cask.  Simply delicious.  So is his Hopping Mad and Peculiar.  In fact, all of Keefe's beers are terrific.  The Granite has been a hotspot for beer lovers since 1996 and 19 years later its still going strong.  To get there from The Longest Yard walk north on Mt. Pleasant for 0.7 km to Eglinton Ave.  The Granite is right there on the corner.

If you can tear yourself away from the Granite to head to the final stop on the Leaside crawl, you won't be disappointed once you get there.  The final stop - Highway 61 Southern Barbeque on Bayview Avenue.  Grab a bus from the Granite and head east on Eglinton till you hit Bayview.  Get off and walk south on Bayview and Highway 61 will be found on the west side of the road.  If in doubt, let your nose lead you to the front door as the smell of BBQ fills the air around the newer establishment.  You will only find beers produced by members of the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) on tap and the food is very good (imo).

*Cam's Place -
*Twisted Kilt -
*The Longest Yard -
*Granite Brewery -
*Highway 61 -

Tomorrow -  Subway Crawl

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Toronto Pub Crawl - Yonge Street

Part 4 - Yonge Street:

This could be the easiest pub crawl on the list. Make your way to Elm street for the first stop (just west of Yonge and north of Dundas) before staying right on Yonge street for the rest of the way.

There are also a couple of changes you could make to this list. Like starting at C'est What before hitting up beerbistro and the 3 Brewers before the Queen and Beaver. But I've used those in the downtown crawl, so here is my list for Yonge St.

Like I said, make your way to Elm Street and walk up the small flight of stairs to the Queen and Beaver, a true British style pub owned and operated by Jamieson Kerr.  Grab a seat on one of the many comfortable couches in the upstairs room and sup a pint of cask ale from Wellington or indulge in a glorious pint of Dension's Weissbier.  The Q&B has some great food and the atmosphere is nice and laid back; very relaxing.

barVolo is about a ten minute walk from the Q&B, north on Yonge.  There is really no need to talk about this place in greater detail as every beer lover I've met has experienced Volo.  What's great about adding Volo to this list is you never know exactly what will be featured on tap as it's always rotating.  You have the opportunity to choose from between a number of quality Ontario produced beers or well recognized imports, and the bottle selection is outstanding.

Back out to Yonge street and head north once again (this crawl goes north all the way) and head to the Pilot Tavern.  A well known drinking establishment just north of Bloor and west of Yonge, you'll be able to order an Amsterdam product or a Mill Street product (Cobblestone on tap) or Steam Whistle or Creemore and take it up to the Flight Deck, which was named the best rooftop patio in the city by the Globe and Mail.

Again, back out to Yonge and north to the Rebel House, a nice little two floor pub with a decent selection of local craft beer and a hell of a meatloaf.  If the weather permits take the pints out to the back patio and forget about the busy street you just came in off, or sit upstairs where a wooden Mountie watches over you.

The Monk's Table, the last stop on the crawl.  Formerly known as The Abbott on the Hill, partners Adam and Melissa are two of Toronto most hospitable pub/bar owners and they have put together a great spot to order delicious pints of imported beer.  In fact, this is what they specialize in.  Out of respect to the older Rebel House, The Monk's Table chooses to only bring in beers like Fuller's ESB, Gouden Carolus Classic (bottles), Hacker Pschorr Dunkel Weisse, Warsteiner, Urthel Hop It, and more.  Great food, great service.

*Queen & Beaver -
*barVolo -
*The Pilot Tavern -
*Rebel House -
*The Monk's Table - 

Tomorrow - Leaside

Friday, March 19, 2010

Toronto Pub Crawl - Downtown

 Part 3 - Downtown:

I'm going to start at the 22 year old C'est What, a place that specializes in local draught beer. It's a good place to get started due to it's proximity to Union Station. Over 35 locally produced beer, and a couple from Quebec, grace the draught menu and there are a couple of casks serving local real ale .

Head back upstairs to the sunlight and head north on Church Street to King Street and go west until you reach beerbistro, Toronto's upscale beer bar. Delicious food prepared with beer, hundreds of bottles from around the world, local draught, and experienced and knowledgeable staff make beerbistro one of the best places to have a beer in Canada.

Back out to the street. Head east until Victoria Street and turn up north until you hit Lombard Street. Duggan's Brewery. Opened in December of '09, Duggan's has already been experiencing a steady stream of regulars and has also received a good share of attention in the press. Eight beers produced on-site by Michael Duggan, including a very good Asian Lager, London Porter, and his signature #9 IPA. Good food too.

McVeigh's New Windsor Tavern is the next stop on the crawl. Walk east on Lombard back to Church and head north. McVeigh's is a great old Irish pub that pours a good pint of Guinness and has a nice welcoming feel upon entering. Once you've ploughed through your pint, change directions and head towards Yonge street and walk north to the 3 Brewers.

Opened in June 2009, the beers produced at the 3 Brewers won't knock the socks off the beer geeks out there, but it's good for what it is. Food's not bad, lots of tv's, good staff, and decent prices make the 3 Brewers a good choice when putting together a list for a pub crawl.

*C'est What -
*beerbistro -
*Duggan's Brewery -
*McVeigh's New Windsor Tavern -
*3 Brewers -

Tomorrow - Yonge Street

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Toronto Pub Crawl - Danforth Avenue

Part 2 - The Danforth:

Rule  #1 - for a Danforth crawl - no public transit, the crawl must be completed by foot (well, you can use transit to get to the start, and when you're finished).

Rule #2 - The Danforth Crawl should have six stops inside of the five I mentioned for the criteria.

My Danforth Crawl starts at Taps and Tales at Greenwood. This 'Toronto' pub has a number of good beers on tap, including a couple of McAuslan's, and the food is quite good. The back portion of the pub is furnished with leather couches sitting before a fireplace and offer a relaxing atmosphere secluded from the front of the house.

After finishing your pint get back out to Danforth and head west to the Only Cafe, a long time fixture on the strip for the beer lover. Take a peek into the two beer fridges behind the bar and choose from a number of decently priced imports.

Eton House is next (Eaton St). Now, you might disagree with me here on this stop, but give the Eton a chance and pop in. It's been known for years as a dive bar, but it's a good place to play pool, listen to some good ol' east coast music, and put back some Mill Street offerings. Have a couple at the Eton as you're in for a little bit of a walk to the next stop - the Auld Spot at Danforth and Jackman St. Good beer, good food, good atmosphere, and in the summer, a nice street side patio.

And now onto the final two stop: Allen's and Dora Keogh's (I'm counting these two as one). Two local legends. Loads of Scotch Whiskey's at Allen's and cask beer and a terrific atmosphere at Dora's.

*Taps & Tales -
*The Only Cafe - nue
*Eton House -
*Auld Spot -
*Allen's -
*Dora Keogh's -

Tomorrow - Downtown

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Toronto Pub Crawl - Toronto East

We have it pretty good here in Toronto. What I mean by that is that we have a number of terrific drinking establishments throughout the city that are easily accessible by foot or by TTC, and pub crawls are starting to become more and more frequent; sometimes a weekly occurrence.  So I thought I'd put together a list of pub crawls throughout the city that I myself have taken the time to explore.  It's a good way to get out of the house, enjoy the city, learn about the city, and meet interesting people along the way.

Criteria for making this list: Five pubs per location - good beer menu, either locally produced craft beer or good imports, at least something decent to drink - easily accessible by foot or by TTC - and absolutely no Firkins, Fiddles, or Mahones (with the exception of two Fab Concept Pubs).

I will post one list a day for the next six days. It is by no means a comprehensive list and doesn't go into much detail about each location.  At the conclusion of the postings if you aren't happy with the list make your own and submit it through email for me to post.

So here we go strutting door to door down the Danforth; to drinking in Leslieville and Corktown; hanging out downtown; seeing the sights of Yonge street; and places everywhere in between.

Part 1 - Toronto East:
Starting in the Upper Beaches (I'm not a fan of the Beach) at the historic Feather's Pub on Kingston Road just west of Victoria Park, and home to hundreds of Single Malts and a good offering of local craft beer. Hop on the #22 bus and head south-west toMurphy's Law. Grab a pint of or two of Mill Street and enjoy it up on the awesome rooftop patio which offers an unobstructed view of Woodbine Park.

Head back downstairs and out to Queen Street and make the 12 minute walk to the Ceili Cottage, one of Toronto's newest establishments serving real ale, which is produced by Bruce Halstead at County Durham. Plan to have more than one pint at this Leslieville local as the Cottage hits almost every note of that picture of a 'perfect pub'. I don't think I've ever had less than two in one sitting. Back out to Queen Street and onto the 501 streetcar.

Head over the Don River bridge and yank the stop cord at Sumach, where the Dominion on Queen awaits. Sit at the old bar, look at all the photographs that hang from the storied walls and choose from a number of Ontario produced craft beers from the draught menu. Jump back on the 501 and head to Parliament.

Get off and head south on Parliament by foot for about 10 minutes until you reach the Distillery District, where you'll find the Mill Street Brewpub of course. Five of the regular bottled beers are available on draught, and they're joined by eight other Mill Street products, some of which have won golds at various Canadian Brewing Awards.

*Feather's Pub -
*Murphy's Law -
*Ceili Cottage -
*Dominion on Queen -
*Mill Street Brewpub -

Substitute pub - The Roy Public House

Tomorrow - The Danforth

Winter Ale