Summer Craft Beer Toronto

12 local beers for summer patio season in Toronto

In other cities it's the first robin. Maybe the first tulip. But here in Toronto, we rely on other signs to let us know that spring is in the air. We start to sense it when the fixies come out on Ossington, when the cherry trees blossom in High Park, and when the smell that wafts up from Toronto ravines gets just a little more earthy and pungent, but really, there's only one true sign that spring has in fact arrived in this fair city: the opening of the patios.

It's a special time in the city when after-work pints turn into late dinners and pub crawls, barbecues at friends' backyards turn into parties, and Saturdays become an excuse to start drinking at noon. It's also a time when we put away the porters and stouts and opt for something a little easier to drink in large quantities. It's a time for crisp, refreshing summer weather beers suited to warm days and long nights.

Here are some of the best local offerings for easy summer drinking, as well as some info about where you can get yours.

Amsterdam's Oranje Weiss
As you might have guessed, Oranje Weiss is a wheat beer that's flavoured with oranges. It's a got some complexity — there's coriander and fennel here — but stays light and balanced.
Where it's brewed: Bathurst Street, Toronto
Where to get it: Available now at Amsterdam's retail store and as of next week at the LCBO and The Beer Store, it will also be available in select bars throughout the summer.

Beaus Patio Saison
Obviously the most aptly named beer on the list, this crisp ale has some clove and pepper notes, along with some citrus and a dry finish. As part of this beer's interesting marketing gimmick, it only became available in individual cities after that city experienced a day in April above 18 degrees.
Where it's brewed: Vankleek Hill
Where to get it: It's already on tap at a few of Toronto's better beer bars (we hit the 18 degree mark on April 14th) but aside from that you can only get Patio Saison at Beau's on-site retail store or by ordering it online.

Bellwoods' Farmhouse Saison
A cloudy gold saison with good lacing, a floral aroma and multi-layered flavour. It's a little more sophisticated than the other beers on offer here, but it's still got a summer vibe owing to the traditional end-of-season style.
Where it's brewed: Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Where to get it: Until their retail store opens next door, you'll probably only find this one at Bellwoods Brewery on Ossington (though I know it has made at least one cameo appearance at Bar Volo).

Black Oak's Pale Ale
Somewhat milder than many of the hop bombs currently on the local craft market, Black Oak Pale Ale is a cross between a traditional British Pale Ale and the modern American Pale Ale and makes for easy drinking while still providing some flavour.
Where it's brewed: Etobicoke
Where to get it: On tap in various bars, at Black Oak's on-site retail store, the LCBO, or The Beer Store.

Denison Weissbier
A refreshing, cloudy, unfiltered, Bavarian-style wheat beer with some spice and clove notes, Denison's is largely regarded as one of the world's best Weissbiers.
Where it's brewed: Etobicoke
Where to get it: On tap at in various bars, or the LCBO.

Duggans No. 5 Sorachi Lager
Malt and rice and Sorachi hops combine to make a fairly sweet and citrusy beer with just 4% ABV.
Where it's brewed: Etobicoke
Where to get it: On tap at in various bars, the LCBO, or the Cool Brewing retail store.

King Pilsner
Subtle floral taste with soft malt notes, this is a crisp Czech style pilsner.
Where is it brewed: Nobleton
Where to get it: On tap at in various bars, the LCBO, or The Beer Store.

Mill Street Lemon Tea Ale
A mildly bitter mix of orange pekoe and earl gray teas balanced with notable lemon sweetness make this a refreshing and light-bodied beer with a crisp finish.
Where it's brewed: Distillery District
Where to get it: On tap in various bars for a limited time during the summer, at the Mill Street Brew Pub / on-site retail store, or the LCBO.

Muskoka's Summer Weiss
Only available during the summer and in limited quantities, Muskoka Summer Weiss is a classic, unfiltered, cloudy and aromatic wheat beer with subtle hops and aroma.
Where it's brewed: Bracebridge
Where to get it:The LCBO, The Beer Store (bar/pub availability TBA)

Neustadt Spring's Bruce County Premium Lager
You've got to love a beer so loyal to its locale that it includes the Bruce County tourism logo and website on the label. And it's a tasty lager to boot, providing just enough toasted malt flavour to ensure it's not your standard macrobrewery lager.
Where it's brewed: Neustadt
Where to get it: Neustadt's on-site retail store (if you're up for the three-hour drive), The Beer Store, or The LCBO.

Railway City Dead Elephant Ale
A pale ale with some fruity, grapefruit notes and a smattering of hops, this beer has a decent bouquet and medium body. Just hoppy enough that it can still be consumed in large quantities.
Where it's brewed: St. Thomas
Where to get it: At Railway City's on-site retail store, by delivery if you live in that area, on tap in various bars, or the LCBO.

St. Andre's Vienna Lager
An underrated beer that's been quietly brewed out of Cool Brewery since 1999, Saint Andre's Vienna Lager is what an amber coloured beer is supposed to taste like: just a little more flavour than your average lager. There's no intensity here, just a well balanced blend of three kinds of hops with a little bitterness and a little sweetness.
Where it's brewed: Etobicoke
Where to get it: On tap at in various bars, The Beer Store, the LCBO, or the Cool Brewing retail store.

A Note About Availability:

  • While I can't guarantee you'll be able to find all of these somewhere that has a patio, if you're looking to find any of these on tap, you might want to start with the bars recently ranked as having the best beer selection in the city
  • To see if the beer your looking for is at your local LCBO, check out their handy product search
  • To find a Beer Store that carries the summer beer you're looking for, you can search their 850 brands here.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Higgins.

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