Sometimes it’s good to treat yourself. Sipped and savoured, unique and carefully curated, craft beer is art in a glass. Whether you’re looking to expand your flavour repertoire or maybe you’re just foraying into the world of craft beer, here’s a compilation of the best taps in the city to get you started. [Image credit: iStock.com/bhofack2]
A pint-sized eatery perfect for a micro-brewed beer. The Three Boars has an aura of authentic craftsmanship that’s reflected in the drink menu, which changes often, but never shifts in quality. Some of my favourite finds are the Dernière Volonté, a Belgian Strong from Dieu du Ciel, and the Brooklyn Brown, a roasted yet smooth and coffee-like ale that pairs perfect with this restaurant’s cozy interior.
Taps on taps lining the bar, sky-high ceilings marked with steel draft lines ending at a view onto the keg room: The space itself could convert any impartial drinker into a beer enthusiast. Serving more than 100 draft beers, you’d think Craft would be overwhelming. But, with such a well-organized menu, you’re sure to find your flavour somewhere along the spectrum between white and black Ales, wheat ales and extra special bitters, lagers and stouts, hybrids (like Parallel 49 Brewing’s Jerkface 9000) and fruit beers (including my favourite, Fernie Brewing Co’s What the Huck) – and that doesn’t even cover everything!
When it comes to craft beers, The Sugarbowl seems to lean towards labels and breweries that focus on quality and taste but are still accessible and recognizable to social beer drinkers. The supply and variety – 160 craft beers with 15 rotating taps – are endless, especially for a smaller, non-commercial restaurant. It features an extensive IPA list and 4 Saisons, which I don’t come across too often. Come by and try one of their newer taps; two of my favourite draft beers are the Hitachino Nest IPA and Brewery Achouffe’s La Chouffe!
Chic and intimate, Accent is the epitome of good taste and affordable fine dining. In many ways, it mirrors the kind of care that goes into a good craft beer. Try one of their rotating import taps or opt for something Czech Pilsner Urquell or something from local brewery Alley Kat (like Aprikat or Full Moon), a couple staples of the establishment. If you come on Monday, you can enjoy a draft beer with beef schnitzel for just $21.
Who doesn’t like pizza with beer? This joint knows how to marry two great things in their finest, fanciest forms. Beer Revolution’s menu isn’t quite as extensive as Craft Beer’s and the Sugarbowl’s, but it still offers beers from a wide variety of breweries, including several Canadian ones, like Wild Rose, Central City, Whistler and Alley Kat, just to name a few. A surprising amount of flavoured beers also fill this menu, if you’re craving something fun like peach, raspberry, chestnut, tangerine or lemon!
Blue Plate always makes for a warm, eclectic dining experience with its organic-and-artistic-meets-vintage style. In the summer, it’s a great place to pair a beer with a meal. Other than the rotating taps, you’ll find some good old faithfuls here – easy-drinking, refreshing brews for those with a mellower pallet, like the Muskoka Cream Ale or the Mill Street Belgian Wit Ale.
As one of the only places on this list that resembles a dance bar, Red Star Pub is the kind of place where you can get down and boogey with a beer sure to keep you classy. My favourite find is a Chimay Triple, the perfect balance of hoppiness and sweetness, the kind of brew that’s so flavourful it can stand on its own or pair well with a snack.
You can’t really go array with craft beer in a place called the Pourhouse. Its menu is large enough to be experimental while still remaining accessible. I especially like their selection of The Dark Stuff, including Dieu du Ciel’s Aphrodisiaque (a sweet vanilla stout), Delerium Noctornum (a Belgian ale, strong enough to just keep you from tipping over the edge) and Russell Brewing Company’s Wee Angry Scotch Ale.