After 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.
Junction Craft Brewing
Location: Unit #101 – 90 Cawthra Avenue
The Junction Craft taproom is an entirely different experience from any other bar in Toronto and it is worth a confused wander or two through the area to find it. The signs in the area, where present, are faded to be almost illegible but Junction does provide directions on their website and it isn’t a particularly confusing neighbourhood.
There is parking available if you just want to drive over for some 500-ml bottles or 2L growlers but I recommend stopping in for at least one pint and soaking up the atmosphere of the place. As well as the beer-to-go, there is some nice merchandise for those who like to wear their favourite beer brands and I very much intend to pick up a shirt myself next time I stop in for a cold pint or some beer to go.
I am quite glad that the passport included Junction as I am not sure how long it would have taken me to get over there otherwise and it was well worth the walk. (And the subsequent walks and bike rides over to exchange my empties). If you find yourself parched near Keele & Dundas, there are many good and easy options. Walk over to the Junction’s taproom anyway.
Extra Special Bitter
Style: Extra Special/Strong Bitter
ABV: 4.8% IBU: 35
Light and hazy with a golden orange body and small, off-white head this beer has an aroma of sweet caramel malts and grain notes. The flavour is nicely bitter with toasty hints and some toffee sweetness. There are also notes of British hops, smooth butterscotch, and some earthiness. Quite a nice example of the style, it is milder than some making it very drinkable and a good introduction to ESBs.
Santa Rosa Special
Style: American IPA
ABV: 4.2% IBU: 50
This somewhat hazy, dark yellow beer features a muted citrus and lime aroma with nice evidence of hops. The flavour is modest with great hop notes and evidence of citrus and pine. Tropical fruit notes and a moderate bitterness complete the flavour for a less-intense but deliciously drinkable IPA. It goes down smooth with low carbonation and a thin body. While not my favourite example of the style, it does provide the perfect proof that IPAs do not need to be hop-bombs to be good (even if I personally prefer it).