All too often, beer is a means to an end: you purchase a tall can to sip at while you watch a band, for instance. These bars are all about beer for beer’s sake, offering big box selections of small box product. They’ll help you make the most of it by offering pairing advice based on moods and appetite, and if you’re still overwhelmed by the options at hand, they’ll help you narrow things down with a tasting flight.
Distilling the roaming discovery process it borrows its name from, to a single location, Bar Hop frequently transforms its selection by rotating new craft options through its 36 taps and two casks. Upscale pub food joins the beer on the menu, and whenever they tap a new keg, they trumpet the occasion via Twitter.
Who else could be behind Toronto’s Cask Days festival? Aside from their 26-tap draft selection, barVolo offers six traditional cask ales patrons can choose from. One of the city’s many brewpubs, it’s also home to a 150L pilot brewery responsible for regular, collaborative, and one-off English, American, and Belgian style beers created exclusively for barVolo and special events.
Beerbistro is a white tablecloth affair, but goes lengths to humble pomp. Tending toward the formal, Beerbistro is a popular date spot, but if you’re flying solo you can still saddle up to the bar for casual advice on the 20-tap (mostly local) draught selection and 150 bottles.
C’est What holds itself to a self-implemented manifesto demanding all beer served (and brewed from its onsite brewery) meets three criteria: beers must be (1) produced in single batches, (2) all natural, and (3) un-pasteurized – so all of its 44 taps pour exclusively Canadian, craft suds.
With 120 craft brews on tap (over 80 from Ontario), Craft Brasserie offers the widest draft selection in the city. Using Canada-grown produce and locally farmed meat, they pair their extensive beverage options with an eclectic spin on bar grub, offering chicharron and lumpia alongside gourmet burgers and pakora-style poutine.
Unlike most of the beer bars on this list, Duke’s doesn’t necessarily fuss about craft, content to let massive corporate fluids pour next to indies – a populist strategy that gives about a third of its 40 taps to names like Molson and Labatt, but also helps ensure there’s always a $5 beer option.
Between 18 taps and up to 341 bottles, the Queen West/Parkdale straddling Rhino is a good bet whether you’re looking for an evening of suds sampling or your group’s just looking for a beer to pass the table wait for Grand Electric. If sports aren’t your idea of entertainment, keep in mind there’s a sizable open patio that’s great for people watching.
Named after a Black Flag song and owned by Brutal Knights guitarist, this Kensington Market watering hole relishes in its dive status, so beer snobs should stay home. Still, they boast eight draught options, and have been known to stock special (very) limited edition brews amongst the 35 bottles they carry.
While most of the beer bars in the city favour local craft brewers, it’s important to note that Ontario craft doesn’t impress everyone. Curating its 50 taps to showcase mostly Belgian and German offerings, Toronto’s Town Crier facilitates a European vacation right in the heart of downtown.
Inspired by Munich’s famous beer halls, WVRST pairs artisan sausages (traditional links are amongst more exotic game like kangaroo) with an extensive arsenal of beers, offering 24 taps, an Ontario cask, and more than 600 bottled and canned beers and ciders, including imports from Europe and Japan and even some gluten-free options.
Don’t let the name fool you! This East end spot is home to 24 taps, a rotating cask, and an entire fridge dedicated to Belgium brews. That’s how you do it.
(Main Photo by Ian Barker via Flickr)