12 Must-Visit Local Craft Breweries
Published: June 4, 2023
Toronto is a craft beer lover’s paradise! With countless local Toronto breweries pouring perfect pints in their taprooms and patios, these 12 spots are the city’s must-visit locations for beer drinkers. Whether you’re in the mood to grab-and-go from the bottle shop or taste-test different brews on a patio with a perfectly-paired meal, UP Express can get you close to Toronto’s best breweries and help you enjoy a day of beer-drinking, responsibly.
Okay, we admit it. We’re partial to the Pearson Express IPA at Henderson Brewing. Inspired by the UP Express train that rolls past the brewery’s Toronto location on Sterling Road every few minutes on its journey along the West Toronto Railpath between Pearson International Airport and UP Express Union Station – it’s just one of the many brews this brewery has to offer. Located in the Lower Junction Triangle in Toronto’s west end near UP Express Bloor Station, the on-site taproom and bottle shop features a menu of snacks and pantry items from local Toronto vendors like General Assembly Pizza, WoofDawg hot dogs, and Drake Commissary’s grainy mustard blended with the brewery’s Henderson’s Best beer.
Featuring a sprawling picnic table beer garden and a German bierhalle-like interior just down the street from UP Express Bloor Station, Bandit Brewery’s experimental brews like their Juicebox IPA will satisfy beer lovers looking for something new. Housed in a former auto shop, the west end brewpub offers mouth-watering bites to pair with their rotating selection of beers served in glasses featuring Toronto’s unofficial mascot, the raccoon.
Toronto beer nerds have Rainhard Brewing to thank for what’s now known as the Aleyards brewing hub, not far from UP Express Weston Station. Housed in a former slaughterhouse district, Rainhard’s industrial space has been transformed into a modern open-concept taproom where the brewing process of their hoppy IPAs is on full display alongside a newly-revamped outdoor patio. With several local craft breweries nearby, the Aleyards is a beer lover’s paradise. Leave your car at home and let UP Express take care of your ride as you drink your way around the area responsibly.
If you’ve ever wanted to drill down into the details of the beer-making process, Halo Brewery is the place to turn. Known for mixing unexpected ingredients in delightful ways – think rosehips, lychee puree, sarsaparilla, and wintergreen – Halo’s beers list each ingredient and the techniques used in the brewing process. The Junction Triangle microbrewery and taproom in Toronto’s west end is a short walk from UP Express Bloor Station and features a small street-side patio and bottle shop of brews to-go.
A quintessential Toronto craft beer brewpub, the bustling Bellwoods Brewery on Ossington Avenue near Trinity Bellwoods Park is home to the brewery’s original bottle shop boasting eye-catching labels designed by local artist collective Doublenaut. Featuring casual indoor seating and a popular picket-fenced outdoor patio with great views of the downtown Toronto brewhouse, Bellwoods welcomes locals, tourists, and families alike to enjoy a menu of top-notch bar snacks, just a short streetcar ride or bike from UP Express Union Station. The brewery’s second location on Hafis Road houses another bottle shop with curbside pick-up and delivery available for their signature sour Jelly King creations and more.
Junction Craft Brewery
Get a little bit of Toronto history with your beer at Junction Craft Brewery. Housed in the former City of Toronto’s incinerator in the Aleyards, the 1930s-era building (affectionately known as “The Destructor”) was decommissioned in the 1980s. After becoming a popular spot for raves in the 1990s, the Art Deco building was beautifully restored in 2018 and is now home to Junction Craft Brewery’s stunning taproom and brewery. While we can’t quite claim the UP Express train is the inspiration behind Junction Craft’s signature Conductor’s Craft Ale, we’re still “all aboard” this train-themed beer. Try sipping one while taking a tour of the site or pick up one of their many beers to-go from the bottle shop before heading home via UP Express Weston Station.
Blood Brothers Brewing
Tart-tasting and sour brews are the go-to at Blood Brothers Brewing. Located in an industrial area on Geary Avenue near Dufferin Street and Dupont Street, this brewery features a taproom, bottle shop and pint-sized patio. Feeling hungry? The brothers behind the craft brewery have partnered with Toronto restaurant hot spot Momofuku Noodle Bar to collaborate on not just the new citrusy Tiny IPA brew, but a pop-up kitchen featuring Japanese eats for summer 2021 and possibly beyond. At UP Express Bloor Station, connect to the TTC subway to Dufferin Station to get close to Blood Brothers or rent a bike and cruise over to the brewery.
No trip to the Aleyards near UP Express Weston Station is complete without a stop at Toronto microbrewery Shacklands Brewing. The rustic indoor taproom and bottle shop has a homey feel to it as it serves up beers brewed in the Belgian style. Fun fact: the brewery’s name comes from the early Toronto neighbourhood dubbed the Shacklands for its ramshackle housing populated by an immigrant community.
What could be more perfect than enjoying a cool beer in a Muskoka chair on the shore of Lake Ontario? Get that summer cottage feeling at Amsterdam Brewhouse By The Lake in Toronto’s waterfront neighbourhood. Pull up a chair on the brewpub’s two-storey outdoor patio for a view that can’t be beat, right at the water’s edge and easily accessible from UP Express Union Station. With a menu of sandwiches, mains and beer bites, each item comes with a suggested craft beer pairing like the brewery’s signature crisp Amsterdam Blonde. A second location near the main production brewery in Toronto’s Leaside features patio seating and an additional bottle shop, albeit without the stunning views.
Bloordale Village’s Burdock Brewery is the place to be when it comes to pairing beer with tasty bites. The intimate-but-lively brewpub patio is the perfect spot to enjoy Burdock’s unique grape-based wine-beer hybrid blends barrel aged with grape skins and fruits. Grab a bottle (or two) to go from the restaurant and bottle shop near UP Express Bloor Station or head here as part of your own private Toronto craft brewery tour by hitting up the nearby Halo, Henderson and Bandit breweries on foot or by rental bike.
People’s Pint Brewing Company
Get up close and personal with the brewing process at People’s Pint Brewing Company. Located near UP Express Bloor Station, this brewing collective features some of the city’s freshest pours in an industrial setting. Featuring a tiny makeshift patio and ample indoor taproom, People’s Pint offers a charcuterie snack board and allows thirsty customers to order delivery from local eateries – the staff will even suggest takeout and beer pairings. With regular brews like their Helles Island Unfiltered Lager and Umbrella Weather stout on offer, the brewery also serves up seasonal and one-off brews like their coveted fruity lactose-based Mango Fett that gets beer connoisseurs raving. Lucky visitors might even catch a glimpse of the brewery’s beloved mascot, Maris the cat, who even has an IPA named after her.
Mill Street Brewery
Mill Street Brewery’s Beer Hall is the place to relax with a cold brew in the heart of downtown Toronto’s historic Distillery District, not far from UP Express Union Station. Boasting a massive German-style bierhalle indoors, the brewery is home to a spacious outdoor patio and boasts not just a large menu with options for kids, but tasty weekend brunch items that pair with one of their 22 handcrafted beers, including their signature Tankhouse Organic Ale. The on-site bottle shop sells seasonal brews as well as small-batch gin with take-out and delivery dining options to cap off a day of exploring this must-see Toronto neighbourhood . For travellers with time between flights, there’s a Mill Street pub and grab-and-go outpost located at Toronto Pearson Airport.