Wise Bar is a haven for lovers of craft beer located along Bloor St. W. just west of Dovercourt Rd.
I go to visit late on a Thursday night earlier this year. I'm hoping it's quiet enough to chat, but not so quiet that I miss out on witnessing the personality of the joint while in use. My hopes come to fruition. Wise Bar is bustling with revelers already leaning in the direction of the weekend.
It's a pretty bare bones room, but has a warm and intimate vibe when the seats are full.
Owner Tamara Wise previously worked at Bellwoods Brewery , but she always wanted to run her own bar, so when the Wise Bar space became available, she decided it was time to try.
"I've been in the industry for 10 years," she tells me as she walks me through the beer selection and I sip a Muskoka Detour. "I've done other things in the middle, but I always came back." Yes, cocktails are on the menu. But Wise's true love is beer.
"You get me to pour a shot and it's absurd. But I can pour three beers at once."
She, her partner, and their dog live around the corner, so she says she lives in a sort of a triangle of being between her place and her apartment and downtown. The business, like so many entrepreneurial endeavours in Toronto, began with a lot of DIY work and a little pitching in by friends and family. In this case, they helped her with the painting. Or by feeding her pizza and beer, while she renovated.
Wise is super kind and chatty with me. She's patient, even as her beer knowledge vastly dwarfs my own. She stocks numerous, continually rotating options, many of which are not commonly found in the LCBO. Some of Wise's top picks include Liefmans, and Calabaza Blanca, a white ale crafted by Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. On draught, you'll find a bunch of locals for about $6.50/pint. These switch up, but during my visit, Black Oak Pale Ale and Great Lakes Limp Puppet were top contenders.
Alongside the love given to Wise Bar's beer selection, there's a basic selection of top-notch spirits, and delectable snacks on offer, too, which work as a perfect complement to the hoppy beers on offer. Plates made up of triple-crĂ¨me brie from Quebec, blue cheese, and extra old cheddar cheese, crackers and dates can be enjoyed at any hour of the day. Or if meat is more your thing, the sausage sandwich with pickle garnish (a mere $3) might be your pick of choice.
And because Wise has a sizable number of friends who don't drink, she has a election of ginger beer, iced tea, and gourmet sodas to choose from, so they don't need to be sober, responsible for getting their friends' drunk asses home, and bored all at the same time.
That's a nice touch from a place that's already worth giving kudos to for the friendly neighbourhood vibe it has on offer.