Radical Road opens in the east end—and it's been a long time coming.
After a long time planning and what is sure to be a welcome addition to the east end, Leslieville’s Radical Road Brewing Co., located on 1177 Queen Street East, has finally opened its doors.
Those with longish memories may recall seeing Radical Road’s beers available in the LCBO in 2013. Brewing out of their employer’s space at Etobicoke’s Black Oak Brewery, Jon Hodd and Simon Da Costa went big and bold for their bottled offerings of Canny Man, a 9.1% Wee Heavy beer aged for 71 days in Speyside Scotch Whisky barrels, and The Wayward Son, a 7.5% Belgian-style golden ale aged in Ontario Pinot Noir barrels. Beyond its impressive and elaborate packaging, Radical Road garnered a reputation of pushing the extremes of flavour, at the time a welcome respite from breweries who would open with the safer bets of pale ales. After a long hiatus where not even Hodd or Da Costa knew what the future held, the pair announced plans early this year to open their own establishment, scheduled for some point in 2016.
And now, finally, we see the result of their work. It has only been a little over a week since Radical Road began pouring its beers, and already the Leslieville brewpub has established itself as a consistently packed neighbourhood hotspot. Currently the venue is in a “soft launch” phase until its official opening in October, at which point the venue extend its hour from the current Thursday to Sunday open times.
Interestingly enough, Radical Road’s offerings have strayed away from the “bigger is better” ethos Hodd and Da Costa originally swore by, launching their space with a selection of approachable beers with their own creative flare to them.
The Slingshot California Common is perhaps one of the better examples of this style; with its copper character and light mouthfeel, it does a commendable job of being Radical Road’s signature beer. It has an almost old school feeling to it—which, considering the brewery’s past offerings, is an ironically welcome departure from the more extreme beers new breweries seem to aim for.
The Shoreline Belgian Saison tastes more like a traditional hefeweizen to me, with distinct notes of banana and clove It finishes, however, with a grainy bitterness and, somewhere in the middle, has the sweet swirl usually found in Belgian styles.
If you like a mouthful of citrus, the Yuzu Pale Ale has got you covered. While the acidity flavours cut deeply into the palate, the key ingredient of Yuzu adds a level of complexity not normally found in beers known for their citrus profiles. It’s unique enough that you’ll find yourself ordering a second glass of it just to figure out what you’re tasting.
And just recently released this week is the 8-Track IPA, which Radical Road refers to as a West Coast IPA with hints of tropical fruits and pine, featuring an almost abrasive level of bitterness and a distinct malt character.
It’s always exciting when a new brewery opens up in the city, and this is no less true when it’s been a long time coming. While the space for this hip addition to the east end is small, the ideas that Hodd and Da Costa bring to the table are huge—and they will no doubt do their bit in adding to the diversity and creativity found in the Toronto beer scene.