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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Queen East is suddenly a Toronto beer lover's paradise

If you love craft beer, Queen Street East may be the place for you.

The area has very recently seen an influx of brewpubs and tap rooms when there were formerly none.

Only last summer, there were no breweries anywhere in the area. However, now there are several, with more on the way.  

Part of the reason, according to local brewpub owners, is the cheap price of rent compared to most other neighbourhoods. But they say the largest draw is the growing population. 

The area around Leslieville and Riverside has experienced a large amount of residential development in recent years. Condos now snake up and down Carlaw Avenue, new ones are being built along Queen and the massive Riverside Square development is also in the works.

eastbound brewing

Eastbound Brewing has been a popular spot since opening next to the Broadview Hotel at Queen and Broadview. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

David Watson, co-owner of Eastbound Brewing, acknowledges that the brewpub's proximity to the recently opened Broadview Hotel is an asset. "They're great neighbours and they have been for the whole strip."

The hotel is expected to act like a hub for the Riverside neighbourhood, much like how the Drake and Gladstone ushered in a new wave of bars and restaurants on West Queen West.

Radical Road Brewing

Radical Road was the first brewpub to open in Leslieville back in the summer of 2016. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

Julian Holland, owner of Radical Road Brewing Company lived in the Beaches for some time, and had eyed Leslieville as a place that was developing quickly.

“People in the area like farmers' markets, and other types of businesses like that. You could tell they would appreciate a more artisanal product like craft beer.”

Holland says he doesn’t worry about the competition with other brewpubs, because they benefit each other.

Saulter street brewery

Saulter Street Brewery is the newest brewery to open in Riverside. It's tap room hidden down a side street is already drawing crowds. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

“It brings people to the area. It’s becoming a destination for those wanting to find good beer, from all over the city,” he says.

“There are very few places you can associate with this many brewpubs in close proximity.”

He says the other owners and himself are happy to see people doing pub crawls and other events that take them from one bar to another.

Many of the new brewpubs in the area are unique, especially from one another. This is definitely true for Rorschach Brewing Company, which is in an historic building. 

Mohan Pandit of Rorschach says the building offers a unique space that is appealing to guests.

rorschach brewery

Rorschach Brewery is located in a historic mansion just south of Queen on Eastern Avenue. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

"The space was ideal for a brewery because it allowed us to concentrate our brewing activities in the back while blending it into the dining room," he says, "The interior is an amalgamation of three separate buildings, a boat warehouse and a turn of the century house. It offers a bohemian, Brooklyn-like feel."

For those keeping score, the neighbourhood will soon add at least one more brewery to the mix. Avling Brewery hopes to open near Queen and Pape as early as next summer. If all goes as planned, they too will have something new to offer the community - a rooftop farm complete with community growing space.

by Michael Ott via blogTO

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