Kristen Lemaire, craft beer aficionado, on her favourite brews in Toronto
Kristen Lemaire is passionate about discovering and trying craft beer—a passion that is fuelled by her role as a bar manager at a hip new wine and beer bar in Toronto’s Bloor West neighbourhood. Here are some of her favourite places in the city to try a great brew, paired with fantastic food.
Try Drie Fonteinen Armand & Gaston Lambic Blend (lemon, honey, apricot, funky-sour) paired with Monforte Dairy Matilda in the Buff, a soft buffalo milk cheese. The acidity from the lambic cuts through the creaminess of the cheese, and the grassiness of cheese complements the beer.
2. Bar Volo
They have awesome rotating taps (and half-priced select bottles on Sundays) but they always have Tooth and Nail Vim & Vigor on tap. This pilsner is easy-drinking and pairs perfectly with fried chicken (the spicy version is the best) from PG Clucks, a local takeout place. You can order the chicken from the bar and have it delivered right to your table.
3. Left Field Brewery
First, stop in at an awesome place called Maha’s down the street and grab a falafel wrap. Then go to Left Field Brewery and pair it with a Greenwood NEIPA—that’s a delicious juicy New England IPA.
4. Bellwoods Brewery
The Bellwoods Paper Tiger is a hoppy pilsner and it’s perfect with their chicken liver mousse. The crispness of the beer cuts through the buttery-ness of the mousse and is a light, easy-drinking option.
5. Blood Brothers Brewing
They’ve just opened a kitchen here—ask your server what pairs best with a Devil’s Trill IPA.
6. Burdock Brewery
Burdock’s Tuesday saison is great for any day of the week. It’s a dry, yet bright and super-easy drinking saison which goes well with their in-house sourdough bread and preserves.
7. Archive 909
Technically this is a wine bar, but they have a curated cider and beer list too. Coat-Albret cider is super-funky and interesting. You also have to get the steak tartare!
8. Bar Hop Brewco
I think this is the most underrated brewery in Toronto. They make a vast selection of barrel-aged blended beers in-house, which are very approachable and interesting and delicious. Try them with the pepperettes, which are locally sourced and all-beef.
Pair a Hill Farmstead Brewery Arthur ale with their mackerel dish. The dry citrus from the farmhouse ale is a perfectly balanced pairing for the savoury fish with daikon.
10. Civil Liberties Bar
This is a cocktail bar that also has great beer and cider options. The rotating Revel Cider tap is always top-notch. Order off the food menu and you will get a delivery from the Vietnamese restaurant down the street, Vit Beo. The head cheese banh mi goes perfectly with the acidity from the cider
11. Godspeed Brewery
Godspeed Ochame Green Tea IPA is delicious and interesting. It pairs well with the assuage tofu—the balance of black sesame, Japanese anchovy, daikon and ponzu sweets works so well with the bright hop flavours and green tea.
Kristen Lemaire, Toronto, Ontario, Bar manager, Paradise Grapevine