Sip on some craft beer at Toronto's top-tier microbreweries

Our talented brewmasters are among the most beloved makers in the city, having carved out Toronto’s status as a destination for award-winning craft beer. Although the culture is home-grown and goes way back, post 2011, a slew of new spots have popped up across the city. Here are the stories behind both our famed microbreweries and innovative newcomers on the scene. [Photo credit: Celine Kim]

Duggan's Brewery Parkdale

1346 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6K 1L4

If there were such a thing as a beer jedi, Michael Duggan would be it. The brewmaster of over 15 years is Canada’s most decorated beer bon vivant. The it-doesn’t-get-more-local-than-this brewery uses Ontario-grown hops and food ingredients on its New Canadian-style menu. Growlers, six packs and single tall cans are all available at the bottle shop beside the low-lit restaurant. Those particularly fraught with local pride will gravitate to the Parkdale bomber – named for Duggan’s West Queen West site – but the most popular option is likely the 100 Mile Ale (amber), or the piney Duggan’s IPA.

Indie Alehouse

2876 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6P 1Y8

“Not cocktails. Not shots. Not Caesars or Martinis. It’s not that kind of place and that’s fine with us.” The wise, unapologetic words of this Junction microbrewery and bar speak to its general we-do-what-we-want attitude and irreverently named brews like the Zombie Apocalypse Imperial Stout and the Instigator IPA. Pick up a pre-packaged growler for 20 bucks filled with one of the daily-changing feature beers. Or tuck in for a tasting flight and a few samplings from a dining menu that includes drool-inducers like prosciutto-wrapped burratta, yellowfin tuna tacos, barnyard mussels, and a bison and pork belly burger.

Left Field Brewery

36 Wagstaff Dr, Toronto, ON M4L 3W9

The name refers to the oft forgotten spot beyond the baseball diamond – apt, for co-founders Mandie and Mark felt that Toronto’s east end was being left out of local craft beer culture and decided to address the issue. Complete with a tap room and bottle shop open daily until 9 p.m., the brewery found its Toronto digs in a century-old industrial building on Wagstaff Drive. The 8.4% Double IPA 6-4-3 gestures to the game’s most common double play, while the Sunlight Park Saison is named is honour of Toronto’s first baseball stadium.

Bellwoods Brewery

124 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J 2Z5

Opening its doors in 2012, Bellwoods was one of the first microbreweries meets gourmet eatery meets tasting bar meets bottle shop to arrive in the city, carving out the beginning of a rich culture orbiting local craft beer. Not only does the Ossington Avenue brew pub host dozens of international craft beers that you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in the city, they also serve a revolving selection of their own fermentations, from the orange and hibiscus Omerta Pale Ale to the Witchshark Imperial India Pale Ale, a bit evil at 9%.

Great Lakes Brewing Company Inc

30 Queen Elizabeth Blvd, Etobicoke, ON M8Z 1L8

You’ve seen Great Lakes’ wildly popular Devil’s Pale Ale 666, seasonal Pumpkin Ale and Crazy Canuck Pale Ale at the LCBO. A convenient stop for west-side condo-dwellers on the lakeshore, this brewery has been in operation for over 25 years, lending it a definitive OG status among Toronto’s craft brewers. They’ve been named Canadian Brewery of the Year twice running and have countless nods in the annual Golden Tap Awards. The retail shop hosts additional flavours in tall cans, 650ml bottles (for a fancy addition to a dinner party), or growlers (for a wild night at the cottage).

Mill Street Brewery

125 Bermondsey Rd, North York, ON M4A 1X3

Walk the cobblestone paths of the Distillery District to this bar, bottle shop and brewery, home of the famed Mill Street Organic Lager. Hosting seasonal and small-batch options that range from the Black Watch Scotch Ale to the Palomar Diablo Chocolate Chipotle Lime Ale (yeah), there’s no telling what you’ll pick up at the well-stocked bottle shop. Or, pop in post Soulpepper show and knock back a pint of the various specialty offerings on draft in the Irish-pub-style brew bar.

Junction Craft Brewing

90 Cawthra Ave, Toronto, ON M6N 3C2

You’ve probably seen Junction’s Conductor Craft Ale and Brakeman’s Session Ale at LCBO locations across Ontario, but these flavours are just the beginning of the local brewery’s frothy offerings. Just north of Keele and Dundas West, Junction Craft Brewing hosts its taproom and bottle shop beside its brewery, self-designed by co-founder Doug Pengelley. It’s the spot to try the brewmaster’s creative recipes, either by sitting in for a tasting flight (four beer varietals in five-ounce glasses), or by picking up a growler of one of the intriguing options, be it the Black Lager or the Hoppercar American Pale Ale.

Amsterdam Beer

45 Esandar Dr, Toronto, ON M4G 4C5

It’s hard to say what’s now the most famous brew at this east end microbrewery, the beers of which have become ubiquitous across Toronto bars and restaurants. The intense Boneshaker IPA quickly seduced Torontonians with its next-level hoppy flavour and cheeky skeleton-on-bicycle label. But the Amsterdam Blonde has been a long-time local favourite and fixture on draft. Stop into the brew house for lunch and a tasting flight or pop into the retail store for less commonly available options and sweet deals like a 25-pack of Big Wheel Amber for just south of $33 (makes a mean lake beer upgrade!).

Black Oak Brewing Co

75 Horner Ave, Etobicoke, ON M8Z 4X5

West enders can make the short commute to this craft microbrewery just south of the Gardiner Expressway in Etobicoke. Famous for its Nut Brown Ale with the iconic Toronto squirrel on the can, as well as the weighed-down-by-awards Pale Ale, Black Oak has been in the game since the late 90s. Stop in to the bottle shop or tasting room for lesser-known numbers like the Triple Chocolate Cherry Stout (a wee strong at 5.8%) and the Nox Aeterna Breakfast Stout, brewed with organic coffee for a burst of invigorating flavour.

From second-storey terraces to canopy-covered courtyards, 2016 has been a good year for Toronto’s patio game. We’ve got the goods on the brand-new brewery on Roncesvalles and the Lakeshore’s most recent party-worthy spot. East to west, these resto-bar newcomers have created inspired outdoor spaces so you can start patio season off right. [Image credit: Pavone] 
On Sunday May 1st 2016, the Artscape Wychwood Barns hosts TO’s largest festival for gluten-free foodies. With workshops led by gluten-free experts and over 65 food vendors to sample from, this event is a must-attend for wheat-sensitive Torontonians. From cupcakes to malt beer and cider tastings, the Gluten Free Garage is where to snack up and stock up this weekend. [Photo by Franco Deleo; courtesy of the Gluten Free Garage]
There are three cardinal rules when it comes to Mother’s Day brunch: book early, choose a spot with an inspired interior and great food, and most importantly, get ready to foot the bill. If you’re on the hunt for the perfect spot for Mom, these Toronto restaurants are hosting classy buffets, prix-fixe, and a la carte brunches worthy of the lady of the hour. [Image by PHOTOPHILCRO - Phil Crozier; courtesy of Maman]
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