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King Blue: Who Could Ask For Anything More?

I Got Taste

BEST BREWS in KING WEST

By on

Firkin on King; Fynn

461 King Street West; 489 King Street West; 309 King Street West; 600 King Street West; 391 King Street West; 667 King Street West

Pub, Bar

I've always been a sucker for pubs. Not just for the beer (I swear!), but for the sense of community they create. You can wander in solo, grab a seat and a pint, and make friends, learn about the city or just watch the neighbourhood go by. To me, a good bar or pub can make or break a village—and thankfully, King West is definitely one of the places where the pubs make it. From craft beers to Irish pubs, there are best brews for every taste along King West. Like the classics? Hit up one of the traditional-style pubs. Want something avantgarde? Head to one of the beer bistros celebrating local microbreweries. Want some history? Head to the oldest bar in Toronto—it's just down the street. So while Toronto Beer Week may be coming to a close, the best brews along King West are available all year long. Here are the best places to grab a pint in the neighbourhood. FIRKIN ON KING Classic pub lovers should head to the Firkin on King, a traditional British-style pub serving all the traditional British-inspired pub fare (bangers or Yorkshire pudding, anyone?). MS-KB Firkin on King - King Blue Condos It’s an airy space, with high ceilings, spacious tables and a warm bar that’s lined with folks even on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. But atmosphere aside, we’re here for the beer, right? And when it comes to beer, the Firkin balances out the usual suspects, such as Guinness, Kilkenny and Strongbow, with lesser known draughts such as Cracked Canoe, and speciality seasonal options such as Samuel Adams’ Summer Ale and Octoberfest brews. But amid all that, the favourite pint for regulars comes from Ontario microbrewery, Hop City: the wonderfully named Barking Squirrel. Fans of the hoppy lager say they like its crisp taste, but staff at the Firkin joke the drinkers really just like to be able to say they’re getting squirrely as the beers go down. Follow on Twitter @firkinonking; Like on Facebook. FYNN'S OF TEMPLE BAR Just a few doors away, another traditional-style pub sits tucked a few steps underground. Fynn’s of Temple Bar is a cozy, Irish-inspired spot—the perfect place to slip into on a fall day and warm yourself with a pint. MS-KB Fynn's Temple Bar - King Blue Condos Its draught list includes the standards—Alexander Keith’s, Stella, Hoegaarden, Guinness, just to name a few of their best brews—as well as a rotating selection of local and craft brews. On the day I visit, it’s Spearhead’s Moroccan Brown Ale that’s being featured, and with a description that includes dates, figs and cinnamon, how can I resist? It’s sweet and goes down smooth and would pair well with Fynn’s classic Cornish Pastry or Banana Bread Pudding. Follow on Twitter @fynnstemplebar; Like on Facebook. GABBY'S Further west, in the heart of the King West Entertainment District, is Gabby’s—a Toronto tradition both in its food and its bar. Gabby's bar Gabby’s has more than 20 years in the business and 12 locations across the city, and is your classic cozy spot for mainstream beers (think Rickard’s, Heineken and Moosehead) and comfort food (think burgers, pizza and chicken wings). And while you may not find rare brews on tap, Gabby’s does feature the lesser-known 416 Urban Wheat from the nearby Amsterdam brewery—an unpasteurized, unfiltered citrusy beer created to celebrate Amsterdam’s 25 years in Toronto. Like on Facebook. BIER MARKT For true beer aficionados, the must-drink spot on King West for the best brews has long been the Bier Markt, where beer lovers can choose from more than 100 selections on offer. Bier Markt Dining Room In addition to its vast selection, the Bier Markt also chooses a seasonal signature beer each year; this time around, it’s the Netherlands’ Hertog Jan Pilsner—a light, crisp, easy-to-drink brew that perhaps goes down a little too easily. And if you’re after perfect food and beer pairings, the cheese and lager fondue is a mix of appenzeller, emmental and raclette cheeses with none other than the featured Hertog Jan. Follow on Twitter @BierMarkt; Like on Facebook. BAR HOP But there’s also a new kid on the block for discerning beer drinkers. Bar Hop opened this past summer on King West, and brought with it some of the rarest beers in the city. How about a beer from Kenya (Tusker lager) or Sri Lanka (Sinha stout)? Or if you’re after something more local, maybe the King Pilsner or Muskoka Mad Tom—both of which top out as some of Bar Hop’s best selling, best brews! Bar Hop I’m a stout fan, so I opt for the County Durham Black Katt. I’m told that Bar Hop is one of the few bars in the world that sells this dry stout and that the brewery’s advertising comes strictly from word-of-mouth—which is appropriate for Bar Hop, where a beer (Great Lakes Brewery’s limited edition Ginja Ninja) once sold out in three hours after staff tweeted that they had tapped the brew. Follow on Twitter @barhopbar; Like on Facebook. WHEAT SHEAF TAVERN And of course, no King West pub crawl would be complete without a stop at the Wheat Sheaf Tavern—Toronto’s oldest bar. The Wheat Sheaf has been in operation since 1849—that’s 18 years before Confederation. TB-KB Wheat Sheaf Tavern - King Blue condos And while the Wheat Sheaf may not be a place to perfect your beer palate (it generally just serves up the good old standbys), it is a place to truly experience a piece of Toronto’s history and sense of community. On any game night, the pub is packed with folks gathered around communal wooden tables, sharing pitchers of Canadian beers and sticky sauce-covered chicken wings as they cheer on the home team. Like on Facebook. So head to the King West, King Blue neighbourhood, pull up a bar stool and have them pour a pint of their best brews. 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