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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Breweries near Goderich Ontario – Square and Cowbell

I happened to be out in Goderich with friends so we visited the local brewery, called Square and later another local brewery called Cowbell not too far down the road.

Square Brewery

Square is the only one in Goderich itself. Square has a small tasting room with no air conditioning. They had four beers on tap but I only had a full pour of the pilsner and hoppy pale ale.

The pilsner was fairly average with a crisp dry finish and light floral hops. The vienna lager I tried a few sips of my friend’s beer and that was enough for me. The beer had a dark cherry color and in taste was mostly burnt toffee and marshmallow. The toffee was dominant and a bit too burnt for my tastes.

Fog Day, the hoppy pale ale was nice and dry with tons of hop aroma and not much bitterness. It had notes of citrus and overripe papaya. The overripe flavors dominated, and were a bit off putting. Finally the black lager was quite good with notes of raisins, caramel, and mild roast with a dry finish. This one might even satisfy the stout drinkers.

Square is much cheaper to take beer to go in crowlers so if you are in the area for a while I recommend stopping by to try a few beers and taking your favorite home in crowlers. While I enjoyed the beers, the lack of air conditioning suggests that I probably wouldn’t return if I was in the area.

Cowbell Brewery

Cowbell is a massive brewery in Blyth, a town about 25 minutes drive from Goderich. They have a very impressive facility that suggests they are backed by some big money. It is a full restaurant and has its own big canning line so you will find their beers all around the Ontario area. The prices pushed me towards full pours because of how much they charged for a full 5ounce taster.

I started with the Abbey Bragott IPA, an IPA made with honey. It barely tasted like an IPA to me. The beer was bitter with prominent honey dominating and some mild bitter finish. There wasn’t a lot of hop aroma in the beer and I didn’t really care for the honey. If you are there for the big hops, you should try some other beers instead. The Boxing Bruin IPA, their core IPA, was good and resinous with prominent pine flavor and a good dry finish without being overly bitter. I had a can of this the day before visiting the brewery and it was similarly resinous with some prominent grapefruit as well. It is a solid IPA and worth trying if you want the hops.

The Mango Milkshake IPA was delightful. The mango was present but not overpowering or prominent. The lactose was similarly subtle leaving a creamy base hazy IPA with tons of grapefruit and citrus hop flavors. This was the crowd favorite of the day and my favorite as well. It is a very refreshing IPA. I finished with the imperial stout bragott, also made with honey. Unlike the IPA before it, the honey was not overpowering and balanced nicely with the rest of the beer. The beer had mild roast and notes of cherry, grahm cracker, and mild honey with a nice dry finish. If my husband had joined us he would have liked this beer quite a lot.

Overall Cowbell is an impressive facility and had a solid lineup of beers. If you are in the area it is well worth stopping by to walk around the place and experience a few beers on tap before grabbing cans to go.

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