It used to be that a brewery crawl in Toronto couldn’t be done without a car—which meant some sucker had to be the designated driver. Happily, neighbourhood brewpubs are popping up faster than you can slam a pint. Mark the occasion (and the rapidly improving weather) with this sunset crawl.
START HERE: Bellwoods Brewery
124 Ossington Ave., 416-535-4586.
Soak up the last of the day’s rays at one of the picnic tables outside this hipster-fied brewpub housed in a former auto-body shop. Not for nothing was Bellwoods named the top brewery in the province by RateBeer.com.
Round 1: Pace yourself with a pint of Stay Classy ($6), a hoppy and seriously light ale with just 2.8 per cent ABV.
Walk up the block and hang a left.
1181 Dundas St. W., 647-351-2337.
It may look like a laid-back pinball bar, but peek through the tiny window at the back of the room and you’ll see Toronto’s only nano brewery (that means it’s really, really small). It’s operated by Brad Clifford, an award-winning former homebrewer.
Round 2: Continue riding the hop-train with a pint of Pinball Wizard American Pale Ale ($6.50), a passionfruit-and citrus-forward brew that clocks in at a restrained 5.5 per cent ABV.
Take the 505 Dundas streetcar west to Dundas West Station, then take the 40 Junction north to Keele. Walk one block north to Junction Road, turn right, then go left at Cawthra Avenue.
Junction Craft Brewing
90 Cawthra Ave., 416-766-1616.
Saddle up to the tiny tasting bar and sample the English-style ales on offer from veteran brewer Doug Pengelly. Yes, this brewery looks like a Grade 12 science project, and no, that’s not the booze talking: Pengelly engineered it from old dairy equipment, ropes, and buckets.
Round 3: Opt for the tasting flight ($10 for four five-ounce glasses), which lets you choose from 11 rotating taps, including Stationmaster Stout and Bohemian Dark pilsner.
Walk back to Dundas and Keele, then head west on Dundas for half a block.
2876 Dundas St. W., 416-760-9691
Soak up those suds with some Italian sausage pizza ($15) and a crispy kale Caesar salad ($9) at this friendly neighbourhood spot. Oh, yeah, there’s also a compact brewhouse behind the glass window by the bar, where Jeff Broeders pumps out high-octane, flavourful beers.
Round 4: You’re fuelled up with food, so live a little and order a nine-ouncer of the Four Barrel ($5.50), a rich, boozy barley wine that’ll propel you on the TTC trek ahead.
Bus back to Dundas West station, then ride the subway east to Yonge and south to Queen. Walk one block east to Victoria, then turn right.
75 Victoria St., 416-366-1786.
There’s plenty of T.O. brewing history to soak up here: The spot was once home to Denison’s brewpub and, later, was where Duggan’s #9 was invented. The vintage brewhouse lay derelict until MolsonCoors turned it into its experimental craft brewery. The staff is friendly and the beer is good, so drink up.
Round 5: Reach for the Double IPA ($6 for a 12-ounce snifter). It’s a brand new beer that’s chock-full of grapefruit- and orange peel–like hops, which you may remember from your first beers of the evening. Or maybe not.
You could walk it off for 2 kilometres to the waterfront, but since there are no streetcars and tons of construction down there, we say: Taxi!
245 Queens Quay W., 416-504-1020.
You may find, at this point, you’re having some difficulty standing. That’s okay: There are plenty of Muskoka chairs for you to fall into, all lining a kick-ass waterfront patio.
Round 6: The perfect finale is a glass of Farmer’s Daughter ($7 for 14 ounces), a 10 per cent ABV ale made with earthy Brettanomyces yeast and fruity ice-wine juice. It’s got enough racy acidity to make you reach for a glass of water. That’s right: Time to hydrate and repeat. Now let’s get you off to bed.