Tag Archives: Toronto

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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Toronto Breweries Part 2 – Radical Road, Halo, and Burdock

Radical Road Brewery

I would have liked to visit Left Field before visiting Radical Road but Left Field closed at 9PM and I took a train just a little bit too late back from Kingston. Radical Road is a darker brewery that normally has a kitchen and feels like a bar. Though on Tuesdays when I visited they also have live music because the kitchen is closed. I tried five beers and they were overall very good.

The California Common had a light biscuit malt base with fruity apricot notes and a clean finish. This would be easy to have a few pints of. The Yugu Pale was crisp and lightly tart with lemon and tangerine notes that give it a light bite. I left with a few cans of this because I thought my host would enjoy it and she did.

The Canadian special bitter was lower malt than the standard ESB. Hops came through strong iwth notes of citrus, herbs, flowers, and peach. It had a light bitter bite at the end. The Brett IPA had subtle earthy brett funk that came on more as fruit. The hops came through with notes of resin and grapefruit with a soft light bitterness. The Cucumber Kolsch had a light sweet cucumber flavor with mild mint at the back. I ended up ordering a full pour of this one and the mint came through a little more as it warmed up but never overpowered it.

Top 2:
Cucumber Kolsch
Yuzu Pale

Radical Road had some nice modern takes on classic styles and they use adjuncts in a way that compliment the flavors of the beer instead of overpowering them. Grab the Yuzu Pale in cans for enjoyment at home.

Halo Brewery

Halo was my first stop on my last day because they opened at 3PM and others didn’t open until 5PM. They are on the Northwest side of town and the tasting room has good air conditioning. They serve their tasters in 8oz glasses giving them room for head and aromas to shine through.

The Dry Hopped Gose had notes of tart citrus on the nose. I got lots of puckering bitter grapefruit with light salt and herbal bite on the finish. A delicious beer. The brett saison had an intense funky brett nose. I tasted lots of earthy funk that blended nicely with caramel and apricots with some mild alcohol warmth. As it warmed I tasted some light banana pudding with hints of vanilla.

The New Zealand pale ale was soft and juicy with mild acid. It was bursting with hop flavors of mango, papaya and light candied apricot. This is an excellent example of the style. The apricot tart saison was also quite soft, thick, and juicy with tons of apricot puree character and light lemon on the finish. Though it smelled like it would be very tart it was mildly acidic. Though still quite the small operation Halo had a great lineup. The prices were a little higher than some other places but the beer was high enough quality to justify it.

Top 2:
NZ Pale
Apricot Tart Saison

Burdock Brewery

Burdock is a large restaurant that feels more like a bar than a brewery but the beers I had were quite good. Because they are more of a bar they don’t open until 5PM. They have a large list of archive bottles available to drink on site and occasionally will discount one to a special price.

I started with their session ale. It had a base of sweet malt with some very mild citrus and herbal hops. It needed more hops to balance out the sweet malt base but it was solidly average. The brett farmhouse was fruity and balanced with mild funk from the brett. It was soft and hazy with mild biscuit malt and toffee character. The Double IPA was very impressive and had minimal alcohol character for 7.5%. The malts came in nicely as fluffy biscuit or white cake. Hops were very subdued as well probably because of using lupulin powder.

The Farmhouse saison was dry with bright wheat and mild earthy funk and light ripe banana. A nice delicate beer. The blackcurrant saison I purchased in a 375ml bottle. It poured a light purple color and had bright berry notes on the nose. Mild lacto sour blended nicely with berries and tons of carbonation and a light body. It was a very impressive beer though I would not have paid the full price for on site consumption if it wasn’t discounted.

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 Ontario Breweries Part 1 – Bellwoods, Niagara, Nickel Brook, and Great Lakes

Bellwoods Brewing

I didn’t have anything on tap my first visit to Bellwoods because it was late in the evening and they were quite crowded at their restaurant. Thankfully I saw the shop outside and was able to grab a few bottles. I got their Jutsu, hazy pale, Jelly King, hazy sour, and farmhouse classic, each in 500ml bottles.

The Jutsu was thick yellow haze that was more green at the bottom half of the bottle with all the yeast and hops. The beer had a grassy hop character and other tropical fruit hops that ended with a strong hop acidity like drinking pineapple juice. If drinking it again I would probably pour the dregs into a separate glass and not drink it. I liked it better with what I poured out first.

 

Jelly King I assumed would just be a clear kettle sour with mild hop kick but it was almost as hazy as Jutsu. It was fruity with notes of grapefruit, mild tart kick and mild hop acidity, much less than Jutsu. The farmhouse classic was a good funky saison that clearly should have been bottle conditioned longer as it erupted when I opened the bottle and spilled all over the table. It had hints of vanilla and a dry finish, reminding me of a muffin or light white cake.

I returned to Bellwoods some days later and tried two tasters of some beers that I hadn’t picked up in bottles the first time. I was very glad I did because I got to taste Runes and Witchshark. While Jutsu was great it was also ridiculously acidic, so it may have been just extra fresh. But Runes was soft, thick, and creamy without that acidic bite. It had tons of tropical fruit and citrus notes and mild caramel on the finish. It is a great example of the modern hazy IPA. Witchshark was a nice balanced double IPA though a bit maltier than I like and compared to Runes, I didn’t finish the taster. It was bitter with mild malt, mild pine and some candied fruit notes at the finish.

Top 2:
Runes – Hazy IPA
Jutsu – Hazy Pale

Niagara Brewing

Niagara brewing is a total gimmick of a brewery that gets a lot of traffic by being so close to the falls. They have a restaurant and both indoor and outdoor seating. I tried four beers while I was there and some were quite drinkable. The Blood Orange Berliner Weisse was a great low alcohol kettle sour with orange flavor, light tart kick, and effervescent carbonation. This was my favorite from this brewery.

The lager was fruity and thin with a mild sweet corn finish. It is a standard lager. The Schwartz was quite nice with a medium body and flavors of thick molasses and sticky burnt toffee. It tastes more like a stout than a schwartz but is quite good. The IPA was very sweet and heavy on the caramel from malts. It was too sweet and not particularly hoppy. I would have preferred to have it on cask being this style.

I wouldn’t recommend a trip out for the brewery alone but since Niagara is such a popular destination, it is a good enough stop for a pint after you are done walking. I did not have any food there.

Top 2:
Berliner Weisse with blood orange
Schwartzbier, black lager.

Nickel Brook


Nickel Brook brewing is in Burlington in Ontario Canada, about an hour west of Toronto. They don’t yet have the license to have a tasting room so you can try free tastes and buy bottles to go. I won’t get too critical of any of their beers since I only had a small taste of each of them. They had a good variety of options including tasty low malt hoppy beers that had a great balance to them. My friend swears their double IPA is one of the best hes ever had but they didn’t have it for tastes at the time I visited.

What stood out to me the most was the cherry dark sour I had. It was fantastically balanced and jammy with mild sweetness, low acidity, and mild oak. I enjoyed it so much that I bought bottles of the cherry dark sour, cherry blonde sour, and Flanders red style to bring home with me. I wasn’t originally planning on packing beer back but at $5 Canadian a 375ml bottle I couldn’t resist.

I got to try the Flanders at a bar later that evening and really liked its mellow flavors. Many beers in the style are either too much like vinegar or too acidic but this blended very nicely just like the cherry dark. It had good flavors of dark fruit and mild biscuit malts with a mild oak character. I will enjoy sharing these bottles with friends after I return but I would also recommend everyone try these delicious sours if you are in the area.

Known for:
They have a wide variety of beer but I would recommend coming out for IPAs or barrel aged sours. They also have some solid stouts available and lighter kettle sours.

Great Lakes Brewing

Compared to some other breweries I visited, Great Lakes Brewing isn’t doing anything hyper modern but the majority of their beers were quite good and to style. They have a good sized tasting room with outdoor seating and sell most of their beers in cans.

I enjoyed their pompous ass, a hoppy version of an English mild with a mild malt backbone and some citrus hops and a dry bitter finish. Their session IPA was a classic example of the style, lightly bitter with notes of resin and pine and a crisp finish on a light body. The red lager was nice and fruity with notes of currents and a dry finish.

The blonde lager was crisp and delicious, an excellent example of the style with light fruit and a dry finish. The IPA was lightly sweet and mildly bitter with lots of citrus and pine. This is purely classic west coast style. The pale ale was also low on malts with a bitter finish and notes of citrus and pine.

Come to Great Lakes Brewing for standard examples of styles done excellently well or look for their cans in the market.

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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