Lovers of Toronto Breweries Rejoice, Here are the Best Breweries in Toronto!
If, for some strange reason, you can’t reach me when you’re in Toronto, checking out some of the Toronto breweries on this below list would be a good place to start looking for me. In my youth, let’s be honest - I drank beer with little discretion for its construct or creativity, but those days are long gone. So yes, you may find me in a Toronto brewery in your search , but it’s more likely that I’ll be sipping on sours with my pinky up than face down at the bar.
All jokes aside, it has been a pleasure to watch the rise of independent Toronto breweries who have unequivocally changed the face of craft beer in Toronto. It used to be that when my friends were visiting, I’d struggle to think of where I was going to take them, and now, I have to think about which route we’ll take in which area. Constructing my own beer tour in Toronto is one of my favourite things to do but, again, the reason is really because of the diversity of breweries we have now, which are all experimenting with different approaches.
Suffice to say, you can call me a fan of the movement.
Now, I’m not the only one who likes to do a little beer tasting in Toronto, and that’s why I decided to have a little fun with this post. You may or may not know that I’m one of the cofounders of the Toronto Bloggers Collective (an ultra-supportive group for Toronto content creators), and I wanted to tap the fine folks in that group on the shoulder for this one. We’ve got about 250 members nowadays in the TBC, and here’s what some of the all-stars of the group answered when I asked for their opinion about the best breweries in Toronto!
We’re Talking About The Best Breweries in Toronto!
The list is derived from the input from some of my friends from the Toronto Bloggers Collective, but, as an avid drinker of Toronto beer, I also wanted to ensure that I added a few of my own suggestions in here, so that’s how we’ve put all this together. I also wanted to ensure that all of all of the breweries weren’t bunched up in one area, so that if you decided to do a beer tour in Toronto based on this post, you wouldn’t just be pigeonholed into one area of the city.
As you likely already know, if you’re in Toronto, and you want any more information or insight, you can always hit me up live on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. I mean that honestly, by the way. Blood I’d also encourage you to do the same for many of the contributors, as I’m sure they’d be more than happy to answer you back, and their social handles are often the same as their respective website which is linked in this post.
Alright, that’s enough about that. Let’s talk about some fine Toronto breweries, shall we?
Blood Brothers Brewing
Erin from Pina Travels:
“Blood Brothers Brewing opened in 2015 as the passion project of brothers Dustin and Brayden Jones. With self-professed humble beginnings, the innovative brews quickly gained traction across Toronto as an edgy craft beer served at hipster dive bars and commercial restaurants alike. Four years later, Blood Brothers has opened a small taproom in Toronto’s West End, and I can confidently confirm: it is the best brewery in the city.
The taproom has a relaxed atmosphere with a hint of illuminati. Yes, you read that correctly. The taproom’s décor has an occult theme. Witch-themed patches for sale, black and gold detailing and triangular beer sample trays add to this vibe. The taproom offers 5 brews on tap in rotation, and if you aren’t drawn to those particular beers you can grab one of their classics from the beer fridge. My personal favourite has always been Balam: this high-percentage (11% ABV) stout is infused with smoked malts, coffee and vanilla. It is the perfect winter warmer, but I will honestly drink and enjoy this beer at any time of year. Their dry-hopped pale ale Blood Light is hilariously named after its (not nearly as good) predecessor, Bud Light. I love to drink this one ironically. And of course, Blood Brother Shumei IPA has a perfectly smooth, citrus flavour. I was never an IPA drinker until I discovered Shumei.
A visit to Blood Brothers is an experience! The rotating brews are imaginative and unlike brews you will find elsewhere. On every visit I challenge myself to explore different styles and flavours. I believe this is what’s made Blood Brothers so successful. Innovation is the essence of craft beer, and the Jones brothers clearly know and practice this.”
Jerry from Four Columns of a Balanced Life:
“Mike Clark and Luke Pestl do not like to be called ‘Brewmaster’. They prefer “Bottling Machine Error Message Slayer.” This out of the box, hipster, cool attitude, reflects in their beers.
In 2018, Bellwoods won the Most Innovative Brewery award in Ontario. In 2017, it was included in The Top 100 Brewers In The World. They have won every award in Canada. As a result, they stopped participating in formal, style-based beer competitions since 2015.
Bellwoods located at 124 Ossington Avenue is attracting the Bay Street types, artistes, literati, students and everyone else in Toronto. Bellwoods has a restaurant, a killer patio and amazing service, which is making it the Mecca for beer lovers, purist and aficionados. They have a problem which any brewer would live to have. There is an over demand for their product.
The first beer I like is the Jelly King dry hopped sour with raspberry & blackberry. It is sour and hoppy at the same time. This beer personifies what it means to have everything you want. The aromas are energetic and remind me of a raspberry and blackberry mixture.
Bellwoods continues to add flavour to the above. I have tried, plum, tangerine and sour cherry.
The Imperial Stout with raspberry & cocoa hits the ball out of the park. Do you like drinking chocolate. Welcome to the beer version with addendums. Bellwoods is on the spot with the impeccable blending of cocoa and raspberries which gives it the fierce bouquet and zest.Henderson Brewing Co.”
Black Lab Brewing
Chris from travelingmitch:
“Black Lab Brewing Inc. was only founded in March 2018, so it’s new to the Toronto brewery scene, but it’s certainly made a name for itself…and fast. It was founded by Billy and Anne Madden, and they wanted to create a brewery that was inspired by their “trusty and loyal black labrador mix named Snoopy.” How can you not love that, right?
What’s special about Black Lab Brewing when you’re looking at the broader spectrum of Toronto breweries is that they allow dogs, which seems only fitting considering their name and story. Not long ago, my brother and I actually went to Black Lab Brewing with his french bulldog who goes by the name of “Walt.” All three of us had a ball, and it was nice to see Walt to interact a little bit with some of the other pups. We all had the chance to socialize!
I particularly like the slogan that runs across the wall of the brewery which states, ‘water is drunk by the four-legged beast; man prefers it with hops, malts, and yeast.’
I’m partial to the “Sitting Pretty APA with Rye,” but their jelly bean sour is interesting if you’re looking for something a little bit different. The “Underdog Oat Pale Ale,” is also nice and easy drinking, but still packs a punch.
It’s just a fun place to be, and that’s what it’s all about when I’m thinking about the best breweries in Toronto.
Henderson Brewing Co.
Casie from Casie Stewart:
“Henderson Brewing Company is one of the best in the west! Located on Sterling Road in the Junction Triangle, Henderson Brewery is open 7 days a week until 10pm. On Friday & Saturday the bar and bottle shop are open until 11pm.
Their flagship beer (and my fav!), Henderson’s Best, is a modern take on brews created in the 19th century. They have a huge tasting room open to the public where you can have beers at the bar, pints in the tap room, hang in the backyard,, or purchase take home bottles and growlers.
This recently developed area is a hotbed for culture with Henderson Brewery situated right between The Drake Commissary and beside the newly opened MOCA, Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. Also, the Junction Triangle is one Toronto’s hottest neighbourhoods which features a new Metro Station (UpExpress), retail developments, and soon to be green space outside the brewery. It’s easy to get to Henderson Brewing via the Dundas West streetcar or it’s a short walk from Dundas West TTC Station.
My favourite thing about Henderson Brewing Company is their events! They host Vinyl Show & Tell where you can bring your own records, book night, stand-up comedy, food pop-ups, and more. In the summer months, they hosts a few block parties that include art, dancing, and live music.
I recommend checking out their website for weekly events and following them on Instagram at @HendersonBrewing!”
Indie Alehouse Brewing Co.
Yashy from Baby & Life:
“Located in the Junction (Dundas West), this independent Toronto brewery serving hard to find Ales, has been a consistent favourite of ours despite not living in the neighbourhood. With a wide range of in-house beers and great service, this Toronto brewery sees us making the 40 minute trek from downtown Toronto on a regular basis. The ambiance is fun and welcoming for those of all ages (beer for the adults and crayons for the little ones) making this a spot you can add to your list of things to do in Toronto with kids as well.
At any given time you will find about 12 in-house beers on tap and the team there are always thinking of innovative flavours to pair with arguably one of the best brew pub menus in the city. Their menu changes weekly and they take great pride in coming up with adventurous beers featuring wacky ingredients or aging processes. Get their sour beers, order the truffle popcorn, friend chicken and wings….even those on a healthier diet are sure to love the salad offerings here.
This is definitely one of the top craft beer spots in Toronto where you can order a couple flights during your visit to Toronto on your own or in a group.”
Rorschach Brewing Co.
Chris from travelingmitch:
“In my opinion, Rorschach Brewing Co. might just be the most underrated craft brewery in Toronto. It’s located in Leslieville, which is one of Toronto’s most up and coming neighbourhoods. And yet, the beauty of Rorschach Brewing Co. is that it’s set in an century old home, so it’s not like other breweries right from the onset (at least other Toronto breweries, that is).
Before I talk about my favourite brews, I want to briefly note that they’ve got some delectable offerings when it comes to food as well. I love the pulled pork and sausage torta, but if you’re looking for something smaller to just nibble on, the pretzel or pierogi bites will sure do the trick.
Okay, let’s talk about the beer. Rorschach Brewing Co. is not scared to be adventurous, I’ll tell you that much. They’ve got a handful of double dry hopped IPAs, a sorbet sour IPA, a blueberry dessert lager, a coffee oatmeal stout and the list goes on and on and on. I personally like the “Rapture,” which is ‘a double dry-hopped IPA with oats and hopped with Citra, El Dorado and Ontario Chinook…notes of stone fruit, papaya, mango, tropical citrus and a hint of dank pine. Soft, well rounded body with minimal bitterness and highly aromatic.’
I mean, how damn good does that sound?
All that to say, when you’re thinking about the best breweries in Toronto, don’t forget this gem.”
Left Field Brewery
Casey from Casey Palmer:
“When Chris asked his fellow Toronto bloggers to write on their favourite Toronto breweries, it was a complete no-brainer for me.
If you haven't heard about Left Field Brewery on the east side of town, I fear that your Big Smoke brewery tour has a glaring omission.
Nestled in a cosy little space on Wagstaff Drive just off of Greenwood Avenue, Left Field first blessed Toronto with its beer in April of 2013 and hasn't looked back since!
Now — I don't get to visit Left Field as much as I'd like (which is really sad, as Google tells me it's literally a five-minute drive from my house), I've tasted plenty of their menu, and it is hard to go wrong with what they have to offer. Here are a few examples of what you can expect:
The Eephus is a classic Oatmeal Brown Ale that goes down smooth and serves as a great intro to what Left Field has to offer without getting too creative with flavour profiles
The Greenwood IPA is a tangy IPA that'll remind you of a sunny day on a patio and fun times with friends in times where the weather isn't literally trying to kill you
The Sunlight Park is a grapefruit saison that I suggest for summer consumption only, for having it without sunshine on thine face will probably just make you sad
And then you have my current obsession, the Go-Ahead, a Raspberry and Hibiscus Gose which vanishes from my fridge as soon as I can stock it. I'm getting myself a growler as soon as I get a chance!
In any case, if your travels bring you east of the Valley to the best side of town, check Left Field out. You won't be disappointed.”
Northern Maverick Brewing Co.
Kathryn from Kathryn Anywhere:
“Although craft breweries come in all shapes and sizes, I never dreamed I would see one on the main floor of a condominium building, just off King Street West in downtown Toronto. Suspended over a parking garage of luxury import cars at that! But there is one, about a hundred feet from my front door and I'm in love with the brews and the restaurant.
Northern Maverick Brewing Company has my heart and taste buds with their Enforcer IPA and Gose-zilla. The Enforcer IPA is made with citria, mosaic and amarillo hops, brewed with the flavour combination of citrus and tropical fruits, this beer is a winner for any season! The Gose-zilla is a german style raspberry, blackberry, blueberry beer with a touch of tartness in taste, in season during the summer and fall and part of winter... but not this week. Don't just take my word for it, go in a try a flight, there are at least two stouts brewed on site.
What's a good brewery without a restaurant? Although it doesn't look like a kid friendly establishment, it serves up a mac and cheese for the kids that wins them over. For the parents? The beef short ribs or Maverick burger will satisfy your hunger for sure.
In the summer the patio provides a great scene for people watching and hanging with friends. All year long, every day their on-site beer store is open from 11:00am until 11:00pm.”
Chris from travelingmitch:
“When I think about the most talked about Toronto brewery of late, it’s hard to say that it’s not Godspeed Brewery. Now, it’s not talked about all over the news or what have you, but rather amongst honest beer drinkers. Anybody who has been to Godspeed knows that all those positive mumblings hold true - this place is fantastic.
Godspeed is actually a converted old dollar store that was just sitting there, waiting to be turned into something a little more becoming. Enter Godspeed. I’ll get to the beers in a moment, but I first wanted to point out that their “Beton,” a traditional Czech cocktail, is the perfect way to get things started on a sunny summer day.
The food is also not what you’d expect when Toronto breweries in general. Take, for example, their “Foie Gras Miso Pate” or “Roasted Duck Breast.” Most of the food menu is Japanese inspired, which is perfectly fine with me considering Japanese is my favourite cuisine. If you’re looking for something easy, but a bit less expensive, get your hands on the “Katsu-Sando,” which is a pork cutlet sandwich. It’s unreal.
They’ve got a varied and eclectic menu with some unique offerings. The “Fuyu” is a 9.5% barleywine that many rave over, but I’m more partial to the “Mondai,” an IPA with the perfect portion of citrus tones. That being said, I also always encourage everyone to try the “Umi,” a gose with Okinawan shinkuwasa and sea salt. I’m not sure if it needs to spelled out, but you can see that their beer menu is similarly inspired by Japan.
There is no Toronto brewery like Godspeed, and that’s why I celebrate the hell of this place - and you should too.”
Steam Whistle Brewery
Lilliane from My Toronto My World:
“Located in the heart of the city right by super popular attractions like the CN Tower, Rogers Centre and Ripley's Aquarium you can find the iconic Steam Whistle Brewery. The location is perfect for just popping in and grabbing some snacks (their pretzels are fantastic!) and drinks but if you have enough time you really should make an effort to join the tour!
Unlike a lot of breweries, you actually don't have to make any decisions on what beer to drink here since they only make the one beer! I'm personally not a huge fan of beers but highly recommend the Steam Whistle beers since they're so light and crisp.
What makes the Steam Whistle Brewery so unique is that visiting it is a complete experience because of the fantastic tour the brewery offers! You do have to pay for it ($12 CAD/person) but the experience comes with 2 beers so hasn't it pretty much paid for itself at that point? The tour is a 30 minute guided behind the scenes tour that shows you just exactly how the beer is made and what all the steps in the process are. It's a cool activity for those interested in beer and for those wanting to do something unique in Toronto! The brewery also has a store with some signature products which make for excellent gifts!"
Chris from travelingmitch:
Burdock Brewery, in my humble opinion, is the shining light of the Toronto’s Bloordale Village neighbourhood which, for reference, isn’t terribly far from the much better known Junction Triangle.
What’s great about Burdock is that, as far I know, it’s the only Toronto brewery that’s literally joined to an intimate performance space with shows playing almost everyday. The space itself is also very warm and intimate, which kind of makes it feel like a home away from home, or a place you can go when you need to blow off a little steam.
I was searching for a way to talk more about Burdock, when I found this blurb on their website that I think sums everything up rather nicely, “We are a brewery that makes crispy, crunchy, little pale pallet cleansing balanced pale ales, lagers, and electric wine-beers that take a long time to make. We are working tirelessly to figure out how to make the best beers in the world and we’ve come a long way since we started in 2015.”
They’ve always got different beers available, but the two I’m into right now are their “Burdock Pilsner,” which is all kinds of crisp, and “Burdock Tuesday Saison,” which I’d recommend taking a smell of before you dive in - it’s invigorated with everything from pineapple and clove all the way to fresh straw.
I like it, and it deserves to be in the conversation of the top Toronto breweries. It may not be for everyone, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the favourite spot of many a Toronto brewery frequenter.
Muddy York Brewing Co.
Chris from travelingmitch:
If you’re a fan of craft beer in Toronto, you’re going to like the giant sign that you can’t miss at Muddy York that says simply, “craft beer rules.” Agreed.
I don’t think enough people know about this spot, seeing as it’s in East York (which isn’t terribly central), but they really should (and they will). They’ve got a bit of an old-timey, saloon inspired vibe that pays homage to Toronto’s heritage, and I’m all about that. Actually, the name “Muddy York” is a reference to the nickname people used to give to Toronto (then called York) during inclement weather, as it was impossible to get around the muddy throughways.
I like their “Switchboard Session IPA,” which is an original twist on the old boring IPA, and their “Haberdasher Hefeweizen” is the perfect balance of sweet and refreshing, with that cloudy look that all beer drinkers like to see.
They have a lot of fun with this place, and I love this tidbit on their website - ‘Co-owned by award-winning brewer Jeff Manol and designer-in-chief Susan Michalek (they’re married), our beer family of over-achievers, ne’er-do-wells, rascals, gentlefolk, and scholars look forward to seeing you here at our brewery. We’ll save you a seat at the bar.’
I’m not sure about you, but I think I’ve got to go and take that seat right about now.”
Kasia from Kasia Writes:
“The Eastbound Brewery, located next to the revamped Broadview Hotel and what was once an infamous strip club Jilly’s, is a recent addition to the Riverside neighbourhood. What was once the short-lived Teck Theatre in the 1930s is now a brewery, bottle shop and brewpub. Not only does Eastbound make great beer, its location adds the cool factor of why it’s a great place to visit.
Here you’ll find elevated bar food option for lunch and dinner, but if brunch is your meal of choice, Eastbound has your back with beer infused dishes. We love the unpretentious vibe and laid back feel of the brewery’s sleek and simple space. Some of our fave brews include the Baker’s Breakfast Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, Tight Knit Winter Wit and Humdinger Belgian Blonde Ale. There are so many more to choose and if you want to take some home with you, there are 12-ounce cans and 32-ounce canned "crowlers" available in the beer shop.
Eastbound is wheel chair accessible and offers all-gender washrooms with simple space-saving and easy to use sliding doors. The fact that we can walk here is also a huge plus. After all, as the slogan says, this is east of ordinary.”
Christopher Rudder from Rudderless Travel:
“Over the years I’ve caught myself talking about beer the same way snotty people talk about wine. I went from Homer Simpson’s “D-oh beeeeer” to cultured and sophisticated palette discussions involving water, barley, yeast and hops.
Alright fine, I’m not an expert on beer by any stretch of the imagination but what I do know is that I love the stuff. I’m more of a stout guy who gets ridiculously giddy over a well poured Guinness - it’s like drinking chocolate. I’m not a fan of IPA’s (India pale ale) which tend be a hoppier beer style thus making it more bitter. However, on a hot and humid Toronto day, sometimes all I want is an ice cold, crisp lager that goes down smooth and leaves no aftertaste.
One of my favourite Lagers is the Amsterdam Blonde Lager, brewed by the Amsterdam Brewery. They’ve been producing it for over 31 years and it recently won gold for North American Style Blonde or Golden Ale at the Canadian Brewing Awards. This title officially makes the Blonde the best lager in Canada.
Founded in 1986, Amsterdam Brewery is the oldest craft brewery in Toronto. The original owner Roel Bramer moved to Toronto from Amsterdam and discovered that there was no craft beer being made here. Meanwhile, the best selling beer in the world at that time was Heineken. Realizing an opportunity, he called the company Amsterdam to attract those Heineken drinkers here in Toronto.
I was fortunate enough to write a sponsored post for one of Amsterdam Brewery’s two restaurants: Amsterdam BrewHouse, the best harbourfront restaurant in Toronto - the other being Amsterdam BarrelHouse out in the East End. The Amsterdam BrewHouse is the second busiest restaurant in Canada, which is true given the long lines of people snaking around the establishment waiting for a patio spot.
Besides the Blonde Lager Amsterdam Brewery’s beer line up includes: 3 Speed Lager, Pale Rider IPA, KLB Raspberry Wheat, Big Wheel Deluxe Amber, Cruiser All-Day Pale Ale, Boneshaker, Downtown Brown, Spotted Cow.
While on your touristy exploration of Toronto’s Harbourfront, the chances are high you will find me at Amsterdam BrewHouse during a Blonde Lager and eating one of their delicious Salted Pretzels.”
Chris from travelingmitch:
“In this post on Toronto breweries, we want to make sure that we’re giving enough love to the west end, which had a thriving beer scene before it was cool. And so, let’s add Halo Brewery to the list, as it’s a beloved Toronto brewery which calls the Junction Triangle home.
Halo is a brewery, of course, but it’s also a taproom and bottle shop, so you’ll have no problem taking some to go if you haven’t the time to spend the afternoon, but do indeed want to give this Toronto beer a try. Sometimes I’ll swing by on my bike and pick up a few beers on the way to a friend’s place, and it’s always been fun to see what’s new, and also pick up an old favourite or two.
This place is a beer geek’s playground, and in the best kind of way. They’ve typically got upwards of a dozen beers on tap with a pleasant array of flavours available. I have one friend in particular who is downright obsessed with their “Blood Orange Shapeshifter,” a sour IPA with blood orange. Personally, I like their “Kaleidoscope,” which is an imperial IPA with Gewürztraminer grape mist, and I’m not typically a stout fan. When in doubt, the “Magic Missile,” a dry hopped pale ale is a go-to for me.
This place is also really ‘fresh’ and aesthetically appealing in that they’ve got those big white walls, plenty of light wood chairs and tables, and it’s all accented with a bit of red on the lights and so forth. It’s hip, but not in a “trying to be hip” sort of way, if that makes sense.
And all that is why it makes the list for one of the best breweries in Toronto!”
So, There Are Your Toronto Breweries, My Friend
Now, are these the best breweries in Toronto? Well, to me, the idea of what’s “best” is awfully subjective and that, in essence, is what this article is all about. I asked a bunch of my friends from the Toronto Bloggers Collective what their favourite spots were, and then I added in many of my favourite spots, and there we have it. Truthfully, we’re all Toronto content creators, so I feel you could do a lot worse than this list in terms of Toronto knowledge.
The other thing is that I’ve spent countless hours “researching” at these breweries, largely because I love the creativity that goes into this process (well, and I want to support the folks that have taken Toronto beer to the next level). I’ve always been enamoured by the notion of creating something out of nothing, so to watch each of the above breweries turn an idea and a pipe-dream into a reality is special. And to give these places a shoutout also means something to me.
Whether you were born and raised in Toronto, or you’re visiting for the first time, I hope this list serves you well. May your beers be cold and varied, and the weather be hot and consistent.
And, there’s only one way to end an article like this - cheers!
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