Toronto’s pint glasses are brimming over with pubs, suds and events that tickle our palate for local craft brews and quench our thirst for global beer goodness.
Put events on tap with one of these beer-centric ideas:
Enjoy A Pub Crawl
Many a city pub offers ample space for groups to socialize over a pint or two. The Bier Markt, with its fourth location opening soon on the Queensway across from Sherway Gardens, offers brasserie-inspired food paired to one of the city’s largest beer menus – over 100 listed, including limited edition and rare finds. Each site offers a range of options for private and semi-private events.
Guinness isn’t just for St. Paddy’s day and the folks at the Irish Embassy Pub and Grill sure know how to pull a mighty perfect pint of it! Housed in an historic bank building a stone’s throw from the Eaton Centre, arched windows, lofty cathedral ceiling and grand marble pillars make for a decidedly stylish Celtic setting. The pub’s main bar holds 130, while the adjacent Dublin Lounge handles 74 for seated events. Venue buy out available.
Check out Wvrst and its unique take on European-style beer halls and beer gardens. Fire-engine red tiled walls and a web of light bulbs overhanging long communal oak tables play up the kitchen’s simple approach of pairing artisanal sausages with an impressive selection of beer. Canadian microbrews receive great respect, especially from Quebec. Hook the group up with Wvrst’s Beer 101 tutored tasting program. Buy out available for 135 people.
If looking to star local, there are several go tos including one of the newest, Tallboys Craft Beer House. Located in the unassuming Bloor and Dovercourt area, the bar-restaurant is mega Canadian microbrew loyal with five local draughts on tap plus 40 craft beers in tallboy tins. Roll-up front windows open on a warm red-hued interior and unpretentious décor. There’s a (sports) tv or two and a well-executed menu of tasty pub fare. A lower level private room is opening soon. For now, the venue’s main bar is available for group events of up to 65 people.
Hit A Brewpub
Mill Street Brewpub, Granite Brewery and The Amsterdam Brewery are Toronto’s granddads of the brewpub, where patrons indulge in great handcrafted beer and food within elbow-bending (and touring) distance of onsite brewing action. Next spring, The Amsterdam returns to its brewpub roots with the opening of a 900-seat restaurant on Queen’s Quay West’s waterfront. A new main brewing facility in the city’s Leaside area, complete with retail store and a 2,000 sq. ft. special event space, will replace its current Bathurst location later this fall.
A fresh influx of new brewpubs includes soon-to-open Indie Ale House Brewing Co. The Toronto Junction neighbourhood addition seats 110 (buy-out available) within exposed brick, warm woods and pressed-tin ceiling aesthetics. While waiting for delish orders from the kitchen’s pizza oven and meat smoker, enjoy a quick tour of onsite production facilities specializing in what owner Jason Fisher promises will be “adventurous ales only.”
Over on the Ossington Avenue strip, Bellwoods Brewery will keep its garage doors rolled up and 40-seat patio open for as long as Indian summer lasts. But never fear when winter here. The brewery’s front-of-house tasting-bar resto will continue to serve up its suds, available in a cute little stubbies option, and beer-perfect gourmet snacks, small plates and charcuterie boards. Inside seating for 40 offers a clear view to what the brewmasters are up to.
Brew Up History
Black Creek Historic Brewery brings 19th century living to life, a time when beer was both beverage and food staple (hhmm, what’s changed?). Tour the brewery and hops garden, sample the beers and chat with the period-costumed brewmasters as they work the same equipment, techniques, recipes and non-electrical brewing processes of pre-Confederation. Dining is available in the brewery’s restaurant and pub, or make a move to one of the other group meeting and dining venues onsite within Black Creek Pioneer Village.
Take Beer Lessons
Home to the Six Pints Specialty Beer Co., The Beer Academy is a new multi-functional private event centre with lots of beer edu-tainment going on, from a small-batch craft brewery, tasting room and store to brew-industry education programs and gatherings. The spacious 9,000 sq. ft. heritage building on Victoria Street boasts space for up to 300, a state-of-the-art brewer’s kitchen with a teaching capacity for 50, and a 30-seat beer-lover’s library boardroom. Along with buy-out, the academy’s crew offers excellent industry connections and beer ideas.
Hop On A Tour
Local breweries love to show off their tanks and kegs, promote their latest batches, and generally shoot the beer breeze with the public. Most offer on-site group tours including Steam Whistle Brewing, and Black Oak Brewing Co. At Great Lakes Brewery, book a tour to coincide with its monthly Project X event for a beer-themed food pairing to its latest cask-conditioned ale.
Ontario Craft Brewery Tours transports groups of any size to brewers in and around the GTA and the Kitchener-Waterloo-Guelph region. Guided tours are customizable to time, tastes and interests and include two to four breweries, personal brewmaster-led tours, samplings and beer-themed meals.
Pair The Suds
Put beer in the spotlight by pairing flavour profile or style to each food course. Or crack open a cold one themed to season or occasion such as Nightmare on Mill Street Pumpkin Ale from Mill Street Brewery.
Upcycled beer bottle pint glasses from Artech Glassblowing Studios are also a clever way to showcase an event’s beer list (or sponsor!) plus they make great giveaways. Using recycled bottles from a wide range of breweries and brands, the studio’s artists heat and reform them into glasses with original labels intact, either enameled or embossed. Laser etching or decals can add event name or logo to the glass. 36-order minimum.
Cheers To Beer Events
Toronto Beer Week just wrapped its 3rd year of toasting the craft beer movement with educational events, tastings, beer dinners and pub crawls across the city. Bookmark the Ontario Craft Brewers Association and The Bar Towel, both excellent resources for keeping tabs on Toronto’s beer scene happenings and events including the Annual Cask Days Festival and Toronto Festival of Beer.