Good Beer in Toronto

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Toronto is one of the many North American cities experiencing a sort of Renaissance in quality beer, especially from local producers. A few suggestions of places to go to find it:

Harbord House, Harbord Street (north side) between Brunswick and Major Streets. This is one of my favourite pubs. It occupies a two-story house on Harbord that was formerly occupied by a very mediocre frat pub called Rowers. The new occupants are a very different story — a genuinely good pub where you can get good food and beer for very reasonable prices. Their beer list is not ultra-long — about 10 regular beers (subject to occasional changes), a guest tap, and a guest cask. Their beers are all Canadian micro-brews, most of them local to southern Ontario. They seem to have relationships with some very good small breweries — including County Durham in Pickering, which makes a number of very good cask and non-cask ales (they make an excellent IPA called Hop Addict — a hoppy IPA but with more finesse than its name might suggest). Their food is also reliably good — not ultra-gourmet, but better than most pub food, good ingredients well prepared for a reasonable price.

C’est What, 67 Front Street near Union Station. This basement pub offers a wide selection of Ontario micro-brews, including a number of house beers made by the aforementioned County Durham brewery. Their beer selection is better than Harbord House, but the food is basically average-ish pub food.

Bar Volo, 587 Yonge St. near Wellesley. An excellent selection of a wide range of micro-brews including many local beers. They also have a pretty good wine list — more intelligently selected than the medicore wine lists offered by most pubs. Their food menu is somewhat limited — and expensive — basically charcuterie and cheese, i.e., good quality snack foods. Really about the booze, but an impressive selection of good booze it is.

Sin and Redemption, McCaul Street just north of Dundas. This place has an excellent selection of international beers, with an emphasis on the Belgians. Food is mediocre.

Wvrst, King Street (south side) just east of Bathurst. A low-formality but high-quality beer and sausage place, with a wide variety of sausage dishes on offer and an excellent selection of local micro-brews on tap with a geographically wider selection in the bottle. Vegetarian sausage options are available, though I have no idea what they are like. Overall, the food is tasty, but definitely not health food.

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