The brewpub holds a particular allure for travelers. Breweries, even small and niche craft ones, tend to be industrial affairs on the outskirts of town. Brewpubs are cozier operations in more accessible locales with an atmosphere designed to entice you to stay for a pint and a bite to eat.
The good ones also offer the double whammy of excellent beer paired with food carefully designed to match. When visiting a new city, it just makes sense to fill two needs at once. Toronto has transformed from a city with a few plucky upstarts to being able to offer visitors a thriving and diverse beer culture. These are the brewpubs worth taking beer-loving friends to when visiting Toronto.
Find it: 928 College St.
A local joint with a winning back story; the owners gave two former amateur homebrewers, Christina Coady and Chris Conway, a chance to stretch their wings as pros. Many of their brewed creations fit into the family of Belgian styles known for appealing yeast-driven flavors of orchard fruit and floral notes. By happy coincidence, several of the bright spots on the Folly Brewpub menu nod to the neighborhood's Portuguese connection with seafood dishes that pair excellently with this type of beer.
Find it: 1184 Bloor St. W.
From this group of five, Burdock's menu stands out as the most refined and plated. As if great food and beer aren't enough,Burdock is also working on a reputation as one of the city's go-to music halls. Be sure to try anything brewer Siobhan McPherson has released that is sour, barrel-aged or from the saison family.
Find it: 245 Queen's Quay W.
Avoid fighting with locals for a coveted patio chair by going at an off-hour—you'll enjoy a quieter atmosphere to go with the idyllic view of the harbor at Amsterdam Brewhouse. When ordering, adopt a high-low strategy: pick a staple snack like their dependable pretzel but ask your server for their most adventurous beer option. Iain McOustra's team always meets this challenge with a madcap (but delicious) creation.
Find it: 124 Ossington Ave.
Award-winning, "internationally recognized," and "cutting edge" are all in line with what one might expect of a description of Toronto's finest brewpub. With a range so broad and solidly dependable, it's tough to make specific recommendations at Bellwoods Brewery, but do ask about any special releases on tap. Add their location on Ossington (the easiest place to find good food and drink, plus a friendly crowd on a weekend night in Toronto), and their patio becomes a particularly hot ticket when the weather warms.
Indie Ale House
Find it: 2876 Dundas St. W.
The Junction neighbourhood was dry as late as the 1990s. Indie Ale House is at the head of a growing pack of breweries who are leading an about-face for the area. Jeff Broeders' beers tend to be as assertive as their cheeky names (like Instigator IPA and Broken Hipster Belgian Wit) and go well with the casual, but carefully prepared food such as the Bison and Belly burger. Along with Bellwoods, a bottle or two from here is a safe bet for making good use of precious luggage space.