Toronto trip, day 1: Friday, June 1, 2007

I’m in Toronto for work, flew in early to take in the beer scene. Toronto is only an hour flight from LaGuardia airport – easy! Landed around noon, checked into the hotel and my coworker Jeff and I walked up to beerbistro. BeerBistro I ordered a sampler, 3 100 ml beers for $6. I started with the St Ambroise Oatmeal Stout from McAuslan Brewery, which had a large creamy head and was an opaque black/brown color. The aroma was slightly sour, sweet and milk chocolate-y. It tasted creamy smooth, silky, with milk & dark chocolate flavors, a bit of tanginess midway, bittering out at the end, and very lightly fruity – delicious! Next up was King Brewery Dark Lager. This was dark brown, opaque, with a low/medium head. Aroma was sweet molasses and toast and the taste was as well – a very clean, malty lager. Last was Scotch Irish Major’s IPA, a bright gold clear pour with a white moussy head. A floral fresh fruit hoppiness in the nose and it tasted biscuity, with a herbal/floral hop character, bittering nicely but not overwhelmingly medium way through. Three tasty beers – my Toronto beer experience is off to a good start. Sampler at BeerBistro Jeff and I split a bottle of Church-Key Brewing Holy Smoke next. This beer was very cold, a clear, dark brown, with sweet, peaty characteristics. We found it highly carbonated – I unfortunately found it tasted like more like a smoked soda pop as it warmed up. Just not enough malt and body to balance the smoke for me. Oh, and the food – I had the Brussels Mussels (served with Cantillon sourdough bread) – quite tasty. Jeff had the smoked trout salad which he said was both savory and filling. We sopped up the mussel broth with the bread until there was no more – delish. The beerbistro has an urban w/homey touchesbar at BeerBistro (loved the silk hop vine draped around the top of the banquettes and windows) feel. High ceilings, a 7-seat curved bar with high tables in front and 4 super comfortable banquettes to the side. The large beer banners in the windows and beer posters on the walls are a nice touch. Inside BeerBistro They have 20 taps and around 90-100 bottles from around the world. The beer menu is broken down into different categories: quenching, crisp, appetizing, sociable, satisfying, bold, fruity, robust, spicy, soothing, contemplative, smoky. Each item on the food menu recommends a pairing category. This is great for easy pairing, but a bit confusing if you want to browse a certain style (like porter) or are looking for a particular beer. Lovely place – highly recommended. Jeff and I split up at this point, as he had friends to meet and I had a museum to visit and a pub crawl to do. I bought a day pass for the subway – $8.50 each. The subway is very clean and easy to maneuver – the perfect way to get around town. I took the subway to the Textile Museum of Canada (which was fabulous but completely unrelated to beer). After that, I walked to Smokeless Joe. Smokeless Joe outsideThey had 6 drafts: Durham Hop Addict, Durham ESB, Durham Blak Katt Stout, KLB Raspberry Wheat, Cameron’s Lager, and Konig Ludwig Weisse. I chose the Blak Katt Stout. Opaque black w/large creamy tan head, served too cold for an aroma unfortunately. Very creamy in mouthfeel – easy to drink – light roastiness, some bittering towards end, pretty smooth. Smokeless is a narrow space, with a wood bar seating 10 or so. There are additional small tables/counters at front and back of the room. Brick walls on the right and back and green chalkboards on the walls display drafts, new beers, specials. Smokeless insideThere’s an outdoor seating area in the front. The have at least 120 beers on the bottle list from around the world. They serve half pints and pints – no sampler. I didn’t eat here, but the menu has soups, salads, sandwiches, and mussels. A definite must on any Toronto pub crawl. Back to the subway and off to Outside of Bow and ArrowBow & Arrow. 24 taps and up to 3 casks, all Canadian. Ordered a half-pint of the Black Oak Pale. Clear, bright gold with a low head, nice fresh floral/fruity nose, highly carbonated (spritzy), very lightly bitter English-style pale. Lightly fruity and refreshing. The Bow & Arrow Inside bow and arrowhad a very English pub kind-of-feel – 10-seat U-shaped bar topped with green marble-looking stone, lots of wood tables, green padded stools, chairs and banquettes. There’s a floral-patterned carpet and wallpapered walls with lots of wood accents, etched mirrors – cozy place. There’s also a back deck, full food menu, multiple dining rooms, quite family friendly. Oddly, only 4 or 5 bottles of mainstream macros. I was greatly amused by this sign Pooper signin the women’s bathroom on my way out. Yep, back on the subway and onto The Rebel House. 17 drafts, mostly Ontario locals. I had a half-pint of the Neudstadt 10W30, which was a dark amber/copper, very low head, malty aroma, too cold past that. Nice malty flavor – dark caramel, dried fruitiness, nicely balanced, not too sweet, tasty. I sat at the slightly worn wood bar in a padded seat (of which there are 9). The big windows in front and back booths make this a very comfortable place. There’s a very popular backyard deck (with an hourlong wait when I was there) and a second bar and more seating upstairs. Bar at Rebel House My last stop of the night was Volo. I unfortunately neglected to take a photo, but it is a fantastic place. Bistro atmosphere, old-fashioned light (Victorianish) light fixtures, tin ceilings over the bar area, tile floor, with wood in the bar area, and padded stools and a couch in the bar area. Tables inside and sidewalk seating as well. There were beer and brewing magazines and books in the bar area to browse while you are partaking. 11 drafts and a huge bottle menu from around-the-world. And they offer a sampler – perfect. I had the Best Bitter Maple Porter, medium brown, clear, low head. Strong maple aroma and flavor. Sweet but not too much so – really quite nice. I also had the Church-Key Catch Her Rye, which, to be quite honest, I found peculiar. It had a very odd smell – definitely some type of herb or vegetable and it was very spicy in flavor, but more like a pepperoni pizza due to the lack of sweetness. Well, it was a bit sweet, but overall I found it quite odd – definitely worth the taste, but not for me. I then had the County Durham Hop Addict, an American-style IPA. A clear gold, with a nice hoppy aroma – citrus primarily. Nice citrus flavor, bitters midway to the end, remains on the palette, with enough malt to back it up, but definitely leaning towards the hop side. I met two fellow beer geeks at this point who introduced me to the delightful owners, Ralph and Ina. I snacked on an Ontario cheese plate and split a few bottles with the guys. I had the Yukon Midnight Sun Espresso Stout, the Black Oak Double Chocolate Cherry Stout, and the Scotch Irish Tsarina Katarina Imperial Stout. I wasn’t taking good notes at this point in the evening, but I assure you that I enjoyed all three and the company as well. Volo was the perfect end to my Toronto pub crawl.

beerbistro
18 King St East (at Yonge St)
nearest station: King St, can’t miss it upon exiting

Smokeless Joe
125 John St
nearest station: Osgoode, walk west down Queen St, turn south on John St, located on east side of street

Bow & Arrow
1954 Yonge St
nearest station: Davisville, walk north on Yonge, located on west side of street

Rebel House
1068 Yonge St
nearest station: Rosedale, cross Yonge and walk north, located on west side of street

Volo
587 Yonge St
nearest staton: Wellesley, walk north from station, located on east side of street

My Toronto beer map on Google

Toronto Transit Commission

8 Comments

  1. beastiefan2k said:

    love the blog, should have posted about it sooner! Nice to see Zum do something this special, will have to stop asap.

    July 16, 2007
    Reply
  2. Chris Post said:

    Nice blog Mary! great layout, wonderful content… drool.

    Cheers!

    July 17, 2007
    Reply
  3. Davo said:

    Loving the new blog!! Keep it up. Eventually slander will need a home for all his beerflies. lol

    July 17, 2007
    Reply
  4. Jeremy said:

    Great job, Mary! Detailed, well-conceived, and well-written. Super information!

    July 17, 2007
    Reply
  5. El Machuca said:

    Just stumbled upon the blog when searching for Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen-Weisse. Consider it bookmarked.

    July 20, 2007
    Reply
  6. kennyo said:

    mary, just stumbled, no I haven’t had anything to drink yet, upon your blog, great stuff. Keep it going.

    July 20, 2007
    Reply
  7. Bill Newman (Billolick) said:

    Mary, you rock……great stuff….thank you for all the dedication, info and beer love…….

    July 22, 2007
    Reply
  8. Matt Walker (mwsf) said:

    Great blog. Glad you guys got a chance to hit Shelton Bros for the Struise beers. Those guys absolutely dominated ZBF this year. Excellent beer!!

    July 23, 2007
    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *