The first of a series exploring the companionship between food and beer; I visit one of the most popular gastro pubs in Toronto.
After opening in 2003, Beerbistro quickly gained a reputation for two things. First, a balanced selection (over 120 in total) of brews, unique and mainstream, hitting every possible flavor profile and budget. Secondly, a dedication to a menu that is very beer-friendly — from top to bottom.
At any given time, the restaurant has about 20 beers on tap, with a rotating list of Ontario brews. Here's a list of Ontario beers that are currently available on tap at Beer Bistro:
- Denison's Weissbier
- Black Oak Summer Saison
- King Brewery Vienna Lager
- Neustadt Springs 10W30
- Durham Hop Addict
- Muskoka Mad Tom IPA
During an afternoon tasting, we tasted through five of the available Ontario beers. The beers came in a flight, in 3oz tasting glasses, an option that the restaurant offers to its patrons if they want to try a variety of different brews without committing to a full pint or bottle (3 samples for $6). Normally I’ll order one tasting before I choose a beer to be paired with my food. During our tasting flight, we bounce from citrus and subtle fruity flavours to hop-forward and notes of smoke and roasted malts.
Each dish on the lunch and dinner menus are tagged with pairing suggestions, but you can also ask for an alternate pairing if you wish. I ask for a local pairing for the Kobe beef tacos. Two hard cornmeal shells stuffed with chili-like beef, topped with Vidalia onion, aged gouda, sour cream and lettuce. I’m told to try the Durham Hop Addict, a local IPA from County Durham Brewing. There’s a perfect balance between the citrus notes in the beer, and the spices in the taco. The thick juicy meat in the taco, cut down by the refreshing hops in the IPA.
The menu changes seasonally with some items permanently fixed like the tacos, the variations of mussles or the maki rolls.
“Not only are we using local products whenever possible, we try to use them the best way possible with beer. We basically sit down and taste the flavours and decide whether we want to compliment or contrast.” Says chef Michelle Usprech of the philosophy behind the food.
Beerbistro’s commitment to beer inspired gastro grub goes beyond the appetizers and mains. It’s one of the only restaurants in the city that incorporates beer into their desserts. “All of our desserts are made with beer. We do a lot of beer ice cream. Right now we have five different flavours” says Usprech.
Suggested food and beer pairings
- Kobe Beef Tacos a glass of Durham Hop Addict
- Jamaican Goat Curry with Neustadt Springs 10w30
- Pulled pork sandwich with Black Oak Summer Saison
open daily for lunch an dinner
18 King Street East, Toronto
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Written by Suresh Doss
Suresh Doss is the publisher of SpotlightToronto.com and Rickshawmag.com. Founder of the Food Truck Eats festival, Suresh has been a pioneer for the Street food movement in Toronto. In 2011, He was awarded the VQA Promoter’s Award for outstanding achievement in the Media category in the promotion of Ontario VQA Wines. Suresh is also the Global Editor for Whitecap’s StreetEats series of travel guides, which focuses on the best street food across North America.