07 Sep

Craft Beer Passport: Danforth

Canuck Pale Ale in a magnificent chalice at Sauce

Canuck Pale Ale in a magnificent chalice at Sauce

After several weekends of intending to head over to the Danforth to visit The Wren and neighbouring Sauce, we finally made plans with our Twitter buddy and fellow beer blogger, Eric of Doodle Brews, and headed out for some lunch and a nice afternoon drink, or five.

The food was great and the beer selection varied and delicious but the highlight of the day for me was the fantastic décor and atmosphere at Sauce. Inviting, warm, and funky it was full of visual appeal and eye candy from the bejewelled lampshades to the bright red and orange glassware, the space was full of rich colours and a mixture of textures.

The Wren had a cozy rusticness that I also quite liked and I do not mean to overshadow its charm but Sauce had a wholly unique character that very much appealed to me and I am sure I will find myself back there soon after completing the rest of my passport.

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27 Aug

Craft Beer Passport: Junction Craft Brewing

Junction-Extra Special BitterAfter a lovely late lunch on a beautiful Friday afternoon my husband, my best friend, and I decided it was the perfect day to wander over to the Junction Craft Brewing bar/retail store. With my husband leading the way through the largely unmarked industrial back streets just north of Keele and Dundas, my friend and I were not entirely sure that he knew where we were going but he was insistent and so we followed. It seemed a strange place for a bar.

And it was. It was also quite charming in a rustic and thoroughly unpretentious way. It is clear from the moment you enter that all these people care about is making and selling excellent beer. The retail store/bar room is located right in the brewery with only a sandwich board outside to point the way and, while the space is small, it is full of history and the rich smells of malts and brewing beer.

A large map covers one wall, showing the businesses that used to live in the industrial complex right outside the door and an elaborate bridge made of Lego dominates one, large table. A chalkboard filled with information about their current beers takes up the rest of the long wall while the other side of the room is dedicated to actual brewing. Bags of hops, grains, and malts are stacked up in the corners and a bar with several taps and a fridge full of bottles and growlers of delicious beer awaits you when you enter. The choices are plentiful, varied, and tasty.

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24 Aug

Bryden’s Bar Review

Great Lakes Brewery_Audrey Hopburn_BrydensWith every intention to head off to the Danforth and knock at least 2 places off our craft beer passports, we popped a couple of beers and relaxed into with our like-minded neighbours on our Friday afternoon off. But by the time 6:00 came around and we were starting to get hungry, the thought of wasting the lovely evening by spending ages in the subway just seemed wrong. Having had Bryden’s suggested to us multiple times, the latest that very afternoon, we decided it was about time we made it over there. After all, Bryden’s has been serving delicious craft beer in that very spot for over 100 years and we have lived in the area too long to have not given it a try yet.

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09 Aug

Amsterdam Brew House Bar Review

Amsterdam_FractureThis week I went to see a concert I had been long anticipating: Offspring’s Summer Nationals Tour came to Toronto’s Echo Beach. Having grown up listening to Offspring, I simply couldn’t miss the chance to see this 20th anniversary tour of their best album. I was pretty young when SMASH came out but my sister – who played a large role in my vastly superior musical tastes at an age when most of my peers were listening to boy bands – has certainly always felt that she missed out. Needless to say we were both very excited when this tour was announced and me, my sister, and her husband quickly snapped up some tickets.

Deciding we needed a good dinner to start off the night, we made plans to meet at the Amsterdam Brew House for dinner. I tried to make reservations only to find it is booked solid at that time of night for at least three days but the website said they saved seats for walk-ins so we headed down to try our luck anyway. The patio had a line at least 15 people deep so I chose inside and we got a table within about 10 minutes of getting there, not bad at all. We were a group of 3 after all and that always takes longer at places like this. I saw at least two couples seated immediately while I waited.

The hostess warned me that service might be a little slow as they were quite busy but, honestly, it wasn’t that bad. I suppose they warn you so you expect the worst and end up pleasantly surprised instead of the opposite. Our meal didn’t take long and we had plenty of time to get to the show.

It was AWESOME.

But that’s not why you’re here. You want to here about the beer!

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12 Jul

Craft Beer Passport: Kensington Market

craft beer passport_5 Having so thoroughly enjoyed my first three stops on the Craft Beer Passport, I was really looking forward to crossing another couple of bars off of my list Tuesday night. We had made plans with my dad after buying him a passport of his own for Father’s Day and we were finally getting out to make good on our promise to visit some of the establishments together.

But on Tuesday morning I was worried: the weather network was promising rain all day and all evening with high risk of thunderstorms and powerful winds. As the rain poured down hard enough that I could barely see out the window, our plan of knocking off two bars with a stop for dinner in between seemed ill-suited to the day.

By late afternoon, however, the powers that be had decided to smile on our plan and the weather turned to our favour as the skies cleared for a lovely sunny couple of hours before dinner. Relieved, I set out to meet the others at our first stop: Thirsty & Miserable. The rain did make another short appearance as we strolled over to Margarita’s for dinner but it was a lovely summer evening and we didn’t mind it all that much. I, for one, was quite mollified by the unexpected treat of finding one of my favourite beers at our first stop.

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21 Jun

Craft Beer Passport: Second Stop

second stop-3030Having gotten started on my beer tour of the city last week, I was determined to keep going cast or no. Luckily we live very close to 3030 so my (amazing) husband was able to drive me there and then drop the car back at home.

As only my second trip to this bourbon and craft beer bar in the Junction, I was impressed once again not only by the beer selection but also by the delicious small share plates, most of which are only $5. Among my favourites: Blue cheese mac n’cheese & popcorn chicken. (The doubles also look fantastic for the vegetarians/vegans out there!)

To read about the delicious beer I tried on this stop, keep reading!

Have you tried any interesting brews yet on your craft beer passport? Tell me all about them in the comments – I’d love to add some interesting new beers to my wishlist!  

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14 Jun

Craft Beer Passport: First Pint

craft beer passport - snakes and lagers

Despite working from home  – and being somewhat of a shut-in because of it – having a broken ankle right as the weather is finally getting nice in Toronto is making me very stir-crazy. And having a so-far unused Craft Beer Passport taunting me from my wallet is not helping matters one bit.

And so, with cane in hand, we headed out last Saturday evening for a cold pint or two and some board games at Toronto’s newest – and most fun – beer patio located behind board game bar Snakes & Lagers. Featuring custom picnic tables and a more limited game selection, the patio offers Torontonians the opportunity to drink some fantastic beer while playing a board game without worrying about losing pieces. 

As only my second trip to the bar I was unsure whether we would be able to get in – our group had suddenly grown to 9 people and I had heard tales of extensive lines waiting for space to open up. Luckily the patio was mostly empty when we arrived and we managed to pull a couple of tables together for a few great games of Jenga while we talked and enjoyed the summer evening. The service was quite good this time without the slow decline we experienced the first time we were there. All of our drinks were brought out pretty quickly and I don’t think my glass stayed empty for more than a few minutes before I had another beverage to enjoy!

For those not familiar with the passport, the concept is pretty straightforward: For $20 you can buy a passport online or at select bars. With the passport in hand, you go to each of the 20 bars listed inside and ask what they are serving for passport holders – this may differ from place to place but Snakes & Lagers was offering anything on the menu. When they bring you your beer, you give them $2 and they will stamp or sign your passport. Simple, cheap, delicious! You have until the end of November to hit up each bar and the fantastic price of $3/beer total makes this a great way to introduce people to the fabulous craft beer scene in Toronto.

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19 Apr

Snakes & Lagers Bar Review

Snakes and Lagers Taking a lesson from the success of the board game cafe, Snakes & Lattes, the owner of Snakes & Lagers, Aaron Zack, has outdone himself with this board game bar. Featuring over 200 different board games and a good selection of munchies and craft beer, Snakes & Lagers is a great evening for small to medium groups of friends.

Being enthusiastic fans of both beer and board games,my husband and I had planned to go since it opened a few months ago but stories of long wait times had dissuaded us until yesterday when our plans had fallen through and we were looking for something relaxed and fun. Having friends in town, we wanted something entertaining but which allowed conversation and catching up and board games naturally came to mind. Not a large space, we had both read reviews claiming wait times of up to a few hours just for a seat on Friday and Saturday nights but our group of 4 was able to get in after only a short wait.

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