WHERE TO DRINK BEER IN TORONTO RIGHT NOW

NOW Magazine - Beer Guide - - THE BEER GUIDE -

ALLEN'S 143 Dan­forth, at Broad­view, 416463-3086, al­lens.to

Dis­cern­ing tip­plers seek­ing scotch, VQA wines and beer have known about Allen’s on the Dan­forth for decades. Once you sub­tract the four im­ports, the re­main­ing 11 black-han­dled taps be­hind the long dark bar all pour On­tario craft brews. But it’s the bot­tles that re­ally en­sure Allen’s rep­u­ta­tion as a Toronto beer mecca – 160 la­bels in all, in­clud­ing 22 Bel­gians, a good se­lec­tion from la belle prov­ince and a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on hard-to-find Cana­dian strong beers like the vin­tage dated Eis­bock from now-de­funct Ni­a­gara Falls Brew­ing Company.

THE FEATH­ERS 962 Kingston, at Scar­bor­ough, 416-694-0443, the­feath­er­spub.ca

Is there any­thing more de­press­ingly pre­dictable than go­ing into some English-style bar called the Duke of Earl or the Bad­ger’s Mous­tache and the first thing you see is a lineup of cor­po­rate beer? Not gonna hap­pen at this pub­bi­est of Toronto pubs, also renowned for its vast se­lec­tion of sin­gle malts. Twenty-one taps split evenly be­tween lo­cal craft brews and im­ports keep Up­per Beaches pun­ters happy. And like any pub worth its weight in bar tow­els, it’s got a pump for cask beer.

CIRO'S HOUSE OF IM­PORTED BIER 1316 Bloor West, at Lans­downe, 416-533-4914

Its list of 150 bot­tled beers has al­ways made Ciro’s a bit of an odd­ity among the dis­trict’s strip­per bars. In­ter­na­tional la­bels get the spot­light at this low-key wa­ter­ing hole, with choices like Ger­man Dop­pel-Hirsch, Dutch La Trappe Quadru­pel and Ja­panese Hatichino Nest. Taps are less of an at­trac­tion. The’ hood’s a changin’, so get there while it’s still edgy.

BIER MARKT 600 King West, at Port­land, 416-862-1175, the­bier­markt.com

While it can be a bit of a meat markt and its cor­po­rate own­er­ship some­times shows through, you can’t dis­re­gard the Markt’s se­ri­ous list. Fortytwo taps bal­ance out be­tween im­ports and lo­cals, and over 100 dif­fer­ent la­bels are sourced form 30 coun­tries, with an em­pha­sis on the north­ern Euro­pean brew­ing na­tions. Point of pride is five out of six Bel­gian Trap­pist brew­eries: Achel, Or­val, Rochefort, Chi­may and West­malle.

BURGER BAR 319 Au­gusta, at Col­lege, 416-922-7423, the­burg­er­bar.ca

Man, things have changed since this used to be Rice Bar. Now there are eight beer taps fea­tur­ing six ro­tat­ing lo­cals, one ro­tat­ing cask, shelves of old bot­tles, re­tired tap han­dles pok­ing out all over the place and Ran­dal the Enamel An­i­mal, an odd hop-in­fus­ing beer bong de­vice that was ob­tained from the highly lauded Dog­fish Head brew­ery. Beyond that, Brock Shep­herd is now sell­ing his own beer, the nicely bal­anced Au­gusta Ale made by Paul Dickey, who brews at Black Oak. This guy’s got more beer stuff go­ing on than a Mil­wau­kee Oc­to­ber­fest tail­gate party.

CASTRO'S LOUNGE 2116 Queen East, at Ham­mer­smith, 416-699-8272

BMW-driv­ing Beach­ers are lured less by any no­tions of Caribbean so­cial­ism than by this small but lively bar’s well judged se­lec­tion of brews both bot­tled and on draft. Nine lo­cal taps keep things on a mi­cro tip, aug­mented by Ger­man faves like Warsteiner and Hacker-Pschorr Hefe Weisse. The bot­tle choices in­clude Ore­gon’s Rogue and Que­bec’s Dieu du Ciel! Or try the Warsteiner non-al­co­holic beer. No prob­lem with the Beemer after a few of those.

EM­BASSY

223 Au­gusta, at Bald­win, 416-591-1132

If you want to drink your beer to the sound of mu­sic recorded in the 21st cen­tury in the company of peo­ple who’ve never di­aled a num­ber, then make the scene on Au­gusta. Em­bassy’s lo­cal-cen­tric eight taps will soon ex­pand to 10, and in a move I think we can all en­dorse, they’re trad­ing some food fridges for beer fridges. Bot­tles in­clude three dif­fer­ent Uni­broues, Pil­sner Urquell and Früli.

THE MONK'S TA­BLE 1276 Yonge, at Wood­lawn, 416-920-9074

Even if you can’t af­ford a reg­u­lar econ­omy flight to Europe, at the Monk’s Ta­ble you can travel first-glass to the great beer na­tions of the Old World. If it’s Wei­hen­stephan Hefe Weiss­bier it must be Ger­many. If it’s Old Speck­eled Hen it must be Eng­land. If it’s Gouden Caro­lus it must be Bel­gium. You get the pic­ture. Sev­en­teen taps and 17 bot­tles will keep you im­bib­ing at this well-tended two-floor hostelry.

C'EST WHAT 67 Front East, at Church, 416-867-9499, ces­t­what.com

If you wanted to ma­jor in On­tario craft beer drink­ing, C’est What’s cozy cel­lar rooms would be your cen­tre for con­tin­u­ing stud­ies. On­tario dom­i­nates the 35 al­lCana­dian taps. Th­ese in­clude Toronto’s best five hand pumps for lo­cal casks and reg­u­lar ap­pear­ances of spe­cials and one-offs. C’est What also has a lineup of its own house beers made by County Durham Brew­ing, in­clud­ing Al’s Cask Ale, Home Grown Hemp Ale and Big Butt Smoked Dark Ale. Your on­estop craft beer shop.

CLOAK AND DAG­GER 394 Col­lege, at Bor­den, 416-9218308, cloakanddag­ger­pub.com

The Cloak is a Toronto rar­ity in that it man­ages to main­tain a bit of grit while still tak­ing its beer se­lec­tion se­ri­ously. It’s not inconceivable that you’ll en­dure some mu­sic played above con­ver­sa­tion level while con­sid­er­ing whether the Fug­gles hops you’re nos­ing are bit­ter­ing or aro­matic. Of the 26 taps that bris­tle be­hind the lit­tle bar, 18 are craft brews, and there’s usu­ally a County Durham cask on the pump. Bot­tle se­lec­tion says it all: Keith’s, 50, Stock, Corona and Heineken.

SARAH'S CAFE AND BAR 1426 Dan­forth, at Monarch Park, 416406-3121, par­ty­withus.ca

You could eas­ily pass this in­nocu­ous place on an east end cor­ner by, but de­mand­ing quaf­fers do so at their peril. Sarah’s 13 taps are almost all lo­cal craft beers, ex­cept­ing the likes of Warsteiner and Que­bec’s Mau­dite by Uni­broue. Bot­tles are Sarah’s strong suit, with ap­prox­i­mately 60 la­bels fo­cus­ing on im­ports. It’s cur­rently one of the very few places in town where you can ob­tain the rare and sought-after (like $35-a-bot­tle rare and sought-after) Bel­gian Trap­pist Westvleteren ales.

Chelsea Larocque and Lu­cas Poirier get ready for their brews at Ciro’s. John Kadai pours at the suds at

Ciro’s House of Im­ported Bier.

Ian Innes’s pub, the Feath­ers, boasts 21

taps and a pump for cask beer.

Kristina Heese makes a toast at Rebel House.

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