Toronto Breweries – Halo, Blood Brothers, and Burdock

Halo

Halo was enjoyable for this visit initially because they had strong air conditioning blasting. We stood for about 15 minutes before some seats opened up. I had two beers that day, a hazy IPA called New Wave, and a tart saison called Day Star.

The New Wave seemed initially to be overly harsh in hop acidity as if it was tapped too soon. Hops came through mostly with flavors of apricot though thankfully as it warmed up a bit the acidity faded and more of the candied fruit flavor I remembered from my visit a year earlier came through. The tart saison was nicely balanced with subtle notes of apricot and funk with some lingering acidity.

Halo’s tasting room is tiny but it is a nice place to spend some time if you are nearby and it is hot outside. They are quite a distance North West in Toronto but once you are up there it is fairly short walk to two other breweries, Burdock and Blood Brothers. Though if it is hot, I suggest doing Burdock next because they have air-conditioning.

Blood Brothers

We went to Blood Brothers next mostly because it sounded like the IPAs at Burdock were more on the hazy side and we assumed my friend would prefer that style. When we got there, he announced he was done with beer and wouldn’t be having any more there. If it is hot outside and you are doing a tour around the area, try to visit Blood Brothers later in the day because they don’t have air conditioning and it gets quite hot inside. Though clearly the crowds didn’t care how hot it was.

Beer wise, my notes were mostly taken on Untappd because despite the heat the place was packed and there was nowhere for me to put my beers down. I started with the Shumai IPA, a hazy IPA that was creamy and a nice blend of herbal and citrus hop character. The beer was restrained in hop acidity and not too bitter. After tasting a friend’s beer of Paradise Lost Razzle Dazzle, I had to order one for myself. This is a beer with raspberry and vanilla served on nitro. It was super fruity without being overly sweet and was extra creamy on nitro. I would love to see this in nitro cans to enjoy outside of the brewery.

Other friends were drinking their delicious tequila aged sour while I was there and it was so good that most of them ordered their own glass after having a sip. It isn’t a beer style that I would have expected to enjoy but worked quite nicely. If I had a cooler with me I might have bought a bottle to bring with me to-go. But it was so hot outside i didn’t want the beers to heat up too much. Hopefully if it cools down during my stay in Toronto, I will make another visit to Blood Brothers before I fly home. [It didn’t]

Burdock

Burdock was our last stop for the day, a short walk from Blood Brothers. Everyone at the table saw the cherry and other fruits can-conditioned sour called Cherry B and went straight for that one. It was nice and refreshing with powerful cherry and mild mix of other berries while not very acidic. It was especially nice to enjoy as we cooled down from the hot brewery before hand. I also ordered a dry-hopped sour called Te. It was nice and funky with light herbal hops. Burdock impressed me last year with the quality of their sours and again on this visit. They also have a restaurant.

If you want to read about my visit to some of the same breweries in my 2017 trip, you can find the old post here.  During the 2017 visit I ended up ordering a bottle of sour to enjoy on site because they had a nice reduced price bottle that day.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Toronto Breweries – Kensington and Bellwoods

I made an epic 5 brewery crawl while in Toronto. Based on a friend’s recommendation, we started at Kensington for a flight (my only flight of the day). Each brewery after that, I went straight for full pours of each beer. It was quite hot and while Blood Brothers was one of my favorites of the bunch, I would not recommend visiting them on a hot day as they didn’t have any air conditioning. Part 2 of the day will be posted in a future post.

Kensington

Kensington is a small tasting room in the Kensington market area. They have solid beers and I enjoyed most of what I had on the flight. I started with Tuckerbox, a delicious tart saison with notes of passionfruit, candied lemon, and a light tart finish. It was a nice balanced beer and one of the first saisons of the trip that didn’t taste like white wine. Comparatively, the fruited kettle sour called Convergence was tart and tropical with mild puckering tartness, nice creamy head, and a lightly salty finish. Both were quite nice

The pale ale was soft and had tons of tropical fruit and citrus hop flavor with a light bitter finish and a mild amount of haze. My friends both ordered this beer and they both enjoyed it as well. The IPA was a bit ore malt forward and the hops tended more for the piney and resinous flavors. It was bitter and dry on the finish and just attenuated enough to be a proper west coast IPA.

Bellwoods


We sat outside on this hot day at Bellwoods in the patio that was mostly in the shade. I learned a long time ago that it isn’t a good idea to order a tasting flight when sitting outside in the heat so we each stuck to full pours here. The hazy IPAs and milkshakes at the table held up to the quality that I remember from my last visit a year ago. I ordered a beer called Runes, featuring simcoe and sterling hops. The beer had a nice mix of ripe melon and tangerine with low hop acidity and a mild lingering herbal bitterness.

Bellwoods continues to be a place to go for tons of hazy IPAs, sour hazy IPAs, and fruited milkshake IPAs. They also have a variety of barrel aged beers available to drink on site, some sours, and some big stouts.

To see the remainder of breweries from this day’s fun, check back next week for Halo, Blood Brothers, and Burdock.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Rorschach Brewery – Toronto, Ontario Canada

Rorschach was about a 15 minute walk from Godspeed and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had seen that they made many pastry stouts and IPAs and was quite pleased by the quality of their hazy IPAs and especially the one with tons of passionfruit. I only had a few sips of my husband’s imperial stout tasters but they were quite good as well.

I started with a beer fittingly called The Hedonist, a gratuitous flavor explosion of a milkshake IPA, and my favorite from the visit. It was creamy and exploded with tropical fruit and passionfruit flavor with the lactose just adding to the body rather than being noticeable in the flavor. This reminded me of a similar beer at Green Cheek in California that also blew me away. I followed up with a double IPA called Icarus Complex that claimed to be brewed with a similarly epic amount of kiwi. The beer didn’t have remotely similar fruit flavor and was more of a standard balanced classic resinous double IPA. It shouldn’t be surprising though that kiwi isn’t as strong in beer as passionfruit.

The Turtle Imperial stout made with pecans and cacao nibs was quite lovely with prominent cherry vanilla notes. The beer had a creamy thick body with tons of caramel, mild nuts, and roasted malts. I also had a hazy IPA called truth serum that was super tropical with a creamy body and restrained hop acidity. I may return to Rorschach later in the trip. We visited the brewery quite late (around 10PM) so it wasn’t very crowded at that time and we enjoyed some conversation with a new beer friend who was also drinking at the bar. @JasonOfOrillia on Twitter. We ended up meeting with Jason again the next day thankfully for additional adventures though sadly did not return to Rorschach.

Top 2:
Hedonist milkshake IPA
Turtle Imperial Stout

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Toronto Breweries – Left Field and Godspeed

Left Field Brewery


Left Field is one of the commonly recommended breweries in the Toronto area and I didn’t make it there last year. It is quite a bit east so if you are staying downtown it is quite the trek. After having gone out there I am more likely to grab some bottles from the brewery to take home instead of drinking there because they have such a small tap room that gets noisy quickly. It is also a bit of a walk from the nearest metro station.

I started with the raspberry hibiscus gose. The beer had a lot of raspberry on the nose but not so much in the taste. The flavor was more subdued berry and prominent hibiscus. It was a solid beer but I would have preferred more berry. The Greenwood IPA was lovely soft body with notes of citrus and vanilla and not too bitter. This was my favorite beer of the bunch. The Vermont Style Double IPA was not particularly hazy but had a nice soft body making it somewhat enjoyable. Rather than a juice bomb of a hazy beer it was earthy with subdued bitter finish. My friend had the milkshake IPA with coconut and pineapple. I tried a few tastes and it was exactly a pina colada.

Left Field had excellent beers as I had expected though in the future i would not order a full pint of their hazy IPA blind. I will be grabbing some bottles of Greenwood IPA when I can find them in future trips.

Godspeed

From Left Field we walked about 15 minutes to Godspeed. They have a modern interior and Japanese theme with an eclectic variety of beers. There wasn’t anything particularly hoppy and hardly anything following the typical trends. Instead, they had a lot of classic styles mostly saisons and German styles. They also didn’t seem to offer taster flights. I had a fairly standard dry-hopped saison that wasn’t particularly hoppy but nice and funky and mildly earthy.

My friends ordered the Green Tea IPA and dry-hopped Dortmunder. Again neither beer was particularly hoppy. The Green Tea IPA mostly just tasted like green tea so I am glad I didn’t order that one. The dortmunder was nice and to style, dry with roasty cracker and mild vanilla and caramel. I ended with the imperial lager with coffee, which was a bit thin on the body and too sweet for most of the people at the table. It was good and creamy with mild coffee and roast though again overall subtle.

Godspeed is hyped based on the brewer’s history at Dieu du Ciel but don’t expect anything like what you would get at Dieu du Ciel or other nearby breweries. If you don’t expect anything hoppy and enjoy classic styles you might enjoy stopping in for a visit especially if you are feeling like eating from their Japanese-inspired menu. While it was an interesting experience, I don’t think this is a brewery I would return to with so many other options in Toronto that are more my style.

Come for:
Expect classic beers that don’t use a ton of hops even when labeled dry-hopped. A great place to explore traditional styles that aren’t usually done right elsewhere.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Collective Arts Brewing – Hamilton Ontario Canada

Collective Arts is about an hour outside of Toronto so it is best visited on your way back from Niagara if you are going out there. It is a fairly small tasting room and you can tell that a lot of the people are just stopping by to grab a few cans and take them to go. If you are visiting Toronto you can easily find their beers around town on tap or in the LCBO so only the most devoted should take the trip out to the brewery. Even a few beers you can’f find in cans are generally available on tap somewhere.

I started with a taster flight before having a full pour. I got the gose and three IPAs to start. The gose was nice and complex with mild lemon notes, light tart finish and subtle funk. Of the three IPAs on my initial flight, life in the clouds was by far my favorite. State of Mind was a solid IPA with notes of melon and bubblegum with a bitter dry finish.

Ransack the Universe was herbal and dry with a prominent lingering bitterness that was a bit too much for my tastes. Life in the Clouds was creamy with prominent tropical fruit, guava, and grapefruit notes and a mild bitter finish. This is a solid hazy IPA.

 

I finished with a full pour of their Brut IPA. It was super carbonated and dry like you would expect but also prominently featured herbal hop flavor. Though I would have preferred different hops it was well made for the style.

Collective Arts had some solid IPAs but nothing was so much better than the other breweries in Toronto that I would visit the brewery directly again. The quality was in line with most of the other Toronto breweries. The tasting room had air conditioning and wasn’t too loud when I visited fairly early in the day.

Known For:
Collective Arts is mostly known for their IPAs, both West Coast style and modern hazy so look for their IPAs in the LCBO.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Exploring San Diego's Craft Breweries