Go Local: the five best new microbreweries in and around the GTA
Five years ago, it was tricky to find a locally brewed IPA in Toronto. Today, you can stroll into any one of the city’s busy brewpubs and tailor your selection down to a specific type of hops. With more than 100 breweries in Ontario, including 30 in the GTA, the city’s craft beer scene has never been more vibrant: drinkers are educated and engaged; bars are racing to meet the demand; and a new generation of upstart breweries is pushing the envelope with their exciting, experimental and hyper-local brews. Here, five up-and-coming microbreweries you’ll want to keep your eye on.
Mission Statement: “A group of creative thinkers, designers and brewers […] united to the lofty notion of raising the creative consciousness through the sociability of craft beer.”
What Makes It Cool? The brewery actively solicits artwork for its labels from local painters, photographers, musicians, filmmakers and writers. If you download an app and scan the label with your smartphone, you can access a trove of additional info, including videos, music and artist bios.
Best Brew: Rhyme and Reason Extra Pale Ale. With notes of citrus, pine and tropical fruits, the beer’s sweet, malty backbone gives way to a refreshingly bitter finish.
Where To Find It: Available at the LCBO, as well as Toronto bars like Get Well and Bar Volo.
Mission Statement: “Great beer is about great taste and good times.”
What Makes It Cool? This husband-and-wife team debuted their tiny, baseball-themed operation just last March. Their brews have already earned some serious accolades, including a spot in the IPA Challenge semi-finals at this year’s Cask Days festival.
Best Brew: The highly drinkable Eephus Oatmeal Brown Ale, named after a risky, rarely-thrown pitch designed to throw batters off-guard, is an American-style ale with sweet, toasty malts and a dry finish. The oats make for a creamy mouthfeel.
Where To Find It: Left Field’s beers can be found at over three dozen Toronto bars and restaurants, including 416 Snack Bar on Bathurst, Cold Tea in Kensington and Food and Liquor in Parkdale.
Mission Statement: “Farm to glass beers.”
What Makes It Cool? The owners of this Niagara-based brewery are wine industry vets and certified sommeliers. They treat brewing with the same delicacy and agricultural knowhow as winemaking (e.g. they grow their own hops and brew according to season).
Best Brew: We like their take on the traditional Belgian Bière de Garde, a chestnut-brown beer with subtle aromas of banana and citrus. Sweet notes of candied sugar and dark fruit mask the hefty 9 per cent alcohol content.
Where To Find It: Junction brewpub Indie Alehouse and Tequila Bookworm on Queen West both carry Oast House beers.
Mission Statement: “100% Ontario-grown ingredients.”
What Makes It Cool? The new start-up from the owners of Duggan’s Brewery and Get Well Bar on Dundas West touts itself as the only outfit in Ontario to use 100 per cent locally grown ingredients. After experimenting with a series of recipes, the pair settled on their 100-Mile Ale, an amber ale with Chinook and Cascade hops, and 100-Mile Lager, a European-style lager with Nugget and Hallertauer hops.
Where To Find It: Both 100-Mile beers debut at the LCBO this November.
Mission Statement: “Pumping out our own unique brews right here in the heart of Muskoka!”
What Makes It Cool? After a stint at Niagara College’s teaching brewery and 18 months honing recipes at a brewery in Etobicoke, brewmaster Sam Corbeil moved his outfit to Gravenhurst, where he blogs about the ups and downs of the beer biz. So far, the brewery has churned out five impressive core recipes and a string of laudable seasonals.
Best Brew: Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus, a Russian Imperial Stout. The intriguing brew hits the palate with flavours of dark chocolate, espresso and licorice but finishes with a dry, bracing bitterness that’s uncharacteristic of the style.
Where To Find It: Sawdust’s brews are sold at over 40 bars and restaurants, including Hopgood’s Foodliner, 3030, Bar Volo and Get Well.