The best patios in Toronto don’t always come with a brewery attached
Cheers to the beer at Paradise Grapevine.
The beers served on these patios may not be made on the premises, but they’re some of the best outdoor sips you can find.
Menalon was a rough-around-the-edges gem, a Greek bar with a patio where you could get a cheap pitcher at last call and have a great time. Paradise Grapevine’s remodel thankfully keeps that beautiful grapevine-shaded patio (and the old sign) while gussying it up with one of the most solid wine and beer lists in town. Creative brews from Bellwoods, Fairweather and Sonnen Hill highlight the current pint offerings.
Try: Chums from Slake and Sonnen Hill
Great minds think alike, and great breweries make killer collabs. Chums is a pale ale lover’s dream come true, with subtle citrus character and a delightful floral aromatic.
841 Bloor West, paradisegrapevine.com
Bar Hop Brewco
You wouldn’t know the beautiful rooftop patio was there if you were just walking south of Queen, but word is definitely out judging by the line often snaking up Peter Street. Go upstairs and find a perfect sunny spot for sipping one of 27 craft beers – many, like Left Field, Avling, Blood Brothers and Granite, from breweries on our list – or one of many more cans or bottles.
Try: Vim & Vigor from Tooth & Nail
Hoppy, crisp, light and refreshing, this is everything you would want from a German pilsner. Drink and enjoy it.
137 Peter, barhopbar.com
The Only Cafe
The Only has been a Danforth mainstay for decades, but the friendly neighborhood spot is somewhat precarious with its building up for sale. Go there while you can! There are 25 rotating taps, there’s occasional live music and the contained back patio is the perfect backyard place to park for hours and sip a drink or munch on some food.
Try: Gravenhurst Steam from Sawdust City Brewing Co.
Quick lesson: a Steam Beer (aka California Common) is a beer fermented at warmer temperatures using a lager yeast. This golden amber lager boasts slight fruitiness with a malty and toasted caramel character.
962 Danforth, theonlycafe.com
Open since the 80s when craft beer was not a household term, C’est What is a godfather of the beer scene. But last summer it got a new lease on life, expanding with a beer garden tucked through the alley and made possible by Ontario’s loosened rules around pandemic patios. There, or in the cozy pub inside, you can sip from about 42 drafts. They’re not all available outside, but they are on the premises.
Try: Cornerstone Black Lager from Black Lab Brewing
Sessionable, made with 100 per cent German malt, this silky Schwarzbier (dark lager) is a perfect choice for the dark-beer drinker who knows its warm out, but still wishes it was stout o’clock.
67 Front East, cestwhat.com
Pamenar is a popular Kensington hang, but if you know it mostly as a spot to grab a coffee and talk philosophy or work on your screenplay, you’re missing out on a really well-curated beer list. Seated on their hidden garden patio, which sometimes hosts live music, it’s a perfectly relaxing, warm-day thing to try.
Try: High Grade IPA from Fairweather Brewing Company
Beer from Hamilton brewery Fairweather can only be described as delicate, and High Grade lives up to that description perfectly. With a decidedly tropical character consisting of mango, pineapple and light peach notes, this hazy beauty pairs perfectly with a sunny afternoon.
307 Augusta, facebook.com/cafepamenar
Bar Volo is back near its original address, and its new Nicholas Street location allows it to have a street patio that’s in the action but not quite as distracting as Yonge. Of course, Bar Volo has one of the most extensive, changing and expertly curated craft beer menus in town, so there’s lots of reasons to keep going back there (or to its sister location, Birreria Volo, in Little Italy).
Try: Isle De Garde Grisette
The herbaceous grisette is complex yet pleasant. With aromas of orange zest and a body of bread dough, you’ll be grabbing more than one pint of this Montreal beauty.
17 Nicholas, barvolo.com
Draft picks: Toronto’s best brewery pints and patios