Toronto Craft Beer Bonanza 2014: Hit the Deck
Five sunny spots that combine excellent craft beer lists with open-air bliss
The Beer Hall
21 Tank House Ln., 416-681-0338
Last summer, the Distillery District’s fratty Mill Street Brewery built a slick Bavarian beer hall next door and named it—what else—the Beer Hall. Like their sister spot, the new place offers a slate of Mill Street microbrews, which flow through the brewery’s overhead pipes straight into the Beer Hall’s taps. But the real specialty booze is the bierschnaps, a traditional German moonshine of beer distilled into a clear spirit. It comes in several varieties, like the Frambozen (brewed with raspberries), Coffee Porter (brewed with Balzac’s coffee) and Hopfenschnaps (aged in Prince Edward County white oak). The huge, swanky patio features slouchy sofas, and a glass and slatted-wood roof over the bar—a perfectly posh spot to suck back a bierschnaps caesar while taking in the lavish Sunday jazz brunch.
190 University Ave., 647-253-8000
The glittering Momofuku complex contains three restaurants, a bar and a bakery. Now it also has one of the city’s schmooziest patios. Just outside Daishō, the third-floor dining room, operagoers and Bay Street financiers dine, network and choose from the restaurant’s excellent beer list. A dozen or so brews are available on tap, by the can or in mammoth one-gallon growlers. We like the bitter, barrel-aged imperial coffee stout from Quebec’s cultish Dieu du Ciel brewery, the smoky German-style black lager from Silversmith in Niagara-on-the-Lake and the hoppy Crazy Canuck pale ale from Toronto’s Great Lakes Brewery—an ideal match for Daishō’s behemoth bo ssäm, a slow-roasted pork butt dinner that serves 10.
Amsterdam Brewhouse on the Lake
245 Queens Quay Blvd. W., 416-504-1020
Amsterdam’s year-old lakeside brewpub is the city’s finest day-drinking destination—on a sunny afternoon, beer purists lounge in Muskoka chairs by the water, sipping icy pints brewed in the adjacent pub, which occupies a converted 1920s boathouse. The beer list features the familiar Amsterdam varieties, like the zippy Market Pale Ale and the crisp 416 Local Lager, but we recommend trying one of the weirder seasonal concoctions, like the Maverick and Gose, flavoured with Indian coriander and Himalayan salt, or the pungent De Wallan, which is purposely soured and aged for a year in Niagara pinot noir barrels. For newbies, the pubby menu—wings, burgers, fish and chips—includes pairing tips.
Food and Liquor
1610 Queen St. W., 647-748-7113
Owner Nigel French has created a secret hipster nook behind his Parkdale snack bar, with a tin roof and a string of fairy lights twinkling overhead. French offers bourbon cocktails and a short wine list, but the real draw is his excellent list of craft beers, which go best with snacks like pork dumplings, and lamb tongue and scallion pancakes. On tap, there’s a smoky Irish stout from Oast House in Niagara, a fresh, straw-scented Spirit Tree cider that’s been cellar-aged for six months, and the house beer, Food and Lager, from Great Lakes Brewery. Other beers, from breweries like Sawdust City and Church-Key, are available in wine-size sharing bottles (750 mL), so you can order one for the table. Come summer, local chefs take shifts grilling burgers and ribs on Sundays, which transforms the placid patio into a raucous backyard barbecue.
972 Danforth Ave., 416-463-7843
What began 30 years ago as a bohemian sandwich counter has morphed into one of the city’s finest beer emporia. Behind a graffiti-muraled Danforth storefront, a snug 50-seat backyard patio courts hops aficionados from both sides of the DVP. They come for the colossal list of 250 bottles—recent highlights are the sour ales and smoky rauchbiers from Le Trou du Diable, a terrific Quebec microbrewery—and 25 beers on draft, including special nitro taps (which regulate the carbonation), cask-conditioned ales and Ontario ciders.