Featured Contributor: Andrew Newton @DrinkMeLocal
Trying to find a great beer bar in an unfamiliar city can be a difficult affair. Everyone’s website makes great claims, menus look good, and a rave review can often mean little. While visiting Toronto, Canada, last month I was in just this predicament. As the largest city in Canada, Toronto has a lot of options for your beer sampling.
I was there judging the Canadian Brewing Awards and had access to some of the most knowledgeable local beer geeks. Of course, asking five people about their favourite place to drink local craft I expected five different answers.
It was worse. Each person gave me a list of bars to try. Not having the time to do the grand tour I needed to narrow it down. There was one name that kept coming up as a favourite: Bar Hop (@barhopbar)
I managed to find time with the family to go out for lunch and give Bar Hop a try. It was clearly a crowd favourite for a reason. Boasting 36 taps and an ever rotating selection of craft beer, Bar Hop invites an interesting mix of patrons. I entered the small downtown bar with my wife and two kids under two and was welcomed and seated near the front window. At the bar were a group of fans dressed for that night’s upcoming baseball game. Jays hosting Yankees judging by the jerseys. There were also men in business suits enjoying a quiet lunch before returning to the office. At night the place fills to the brim with beer aficionados of all levels.
The beer list was almost daunting. It took up the first two pages of the menu and clearly showed the brand, the type, the ABV, and the origin. I was excited to see it that there were few brands I recognized. We picked a fruit beer, a sour wheat, a gose, and a peanut butter stout. Much to our surprise the winner of the day was the stout, which is a collaboration beer only available at Bar Hop.
The food was equally up to par. We ordered garlic donuts, stuffed jalepenos, and falafel. Each dish surpassed expectations and was fun to try with our selection of beer. It was also toddler approved.
Everyone raved about their beer selection but no one told me how awesome the food was. I guess that’s a given in the Entertainment District of Toronto. There are dozens of places to choose from and Bar Hop is doing well.
Moral of the story: trust the local beer geeks.
Andrew Newton is a beer and wine writer that likes to keep it local. He lives in the land of Tidal Bay and blogs irregularly at DrinkMeLocal.ca