The once-dry neighbourhood has suddenly emerged as one of the beeriest strips in town, making Junction Friday nights look a lot different.
When the Indie Alehouse’s Jeff Broeders finishes a long, hot shift working in his brewhouse, he ducks across Dundas Street to the Hole in the Wall pub and orders a pint—often a Conductor’s Craft Ale, the signature brew from Junction Brewing, another upstart located just a few blocks away.
“It’s refreshing,” Broeders says of his competitor’s mellow, citrusy pale ale. “Plus, it’s my job to know what other breweries are coming up with.”
Broeders’ neighbourhood bar-hopping would have been impossible two years ago. But in just 12 months, three new craft-beer bars and two acclaimed breweries have turned the Junction into a destination for suds lovers from across the city. Even better, the area’s independent spirit is fostering a unique vibe between the competitors—a co-operative one.
Last January, Katy Ironside, along with brothers Ben and Jack Wilkinson, took over Hole in the Wall, an old-fashioned local pub near Dundas and Keele. They added six taps, banned Bud and Canadian, and became the first bar in the ’hood to carry Ontario craft beers exclusively. Since then, the neighbourhood has seen the opening of the 16-tap bar and concert venue 3030, last May; the Indie Alehouse brewpub and restaurant (which also sells two-litre growlers), last October; and nano-brewery, tap room, and retail store Junction Craft Brewing, last month.
At this point, making the neighbourhood a destination for beer lovers means that what’s good for one is good for all. “Everyone shares,” says Indie Alehouse founder Jason Fisher. “If someone runs out of ice or glasses, we just give the other guy a call.”
The cooperative spirit will really take shape later this month, with Fisher inviting 3030’s venue manager Jeff Kelly and chef Adisa Glasgow, plus the Hole in the Wall team, to brew a Junction-themed beer to be featured at all three bars in February.
And while the new action has coaxed lots of imbibers north of the Bloor-Danforth line, 3030’s Kelly hopes the area remains a respite from downtown’s racuous vibe. “You can go on a bar crawl,” Kelly says, “but people don’t go hootin’ and hollerin.’ It’s not Queen West.”
THE JUNCTION’S VERY SMALL PUB CRAWL
Hole in the Wall
2867 Dundas St. W.
Neustadt Springs 10w30, 5.5%: Rev your engine with this underrated inky, bubbly brown ale, packing a nutty, date-square aroma.
3030 Dundas St. W.
Long Shot White, 5%: 3030 is the only Toronto bar pouring refreshing spiced wheat beer from Ottawa’s upstart Broadhead brewery.
2876 Dundas St. W.
Red Tape Stout, 10%: Aged in pinot barrels for four months, this stout strikes a masterful balance between wine and beer.