After much anticipation, the famed Toronto bar is now making its own beer, and, surprising no one, it's damned good.
It’s safe to say Bar Hop is considered a Toronto craft beer destination. Since being opened in 2012 by Jim MacDonald and Rob Pingitore, Bar Hop has consistently brought forth a large and balanced selection of international and local beers (both on tap and in bottle), unforgettable beer events, and mouthwatering food. In their first year, they successfully set themselves up to be one of the Toronto bars to watch out for in the city, and by their second year it was difficult to imagine the city’s beer scene without them.
So it was no surprise when a second and much larger location was announced nearby Queen Street West and Peter Street. Nor was it a surprise when it was mentioned that the second Bar Hop would also make room for a facility in which to brew their own beer. After all, bartender and brewer Matt Bod has done a number of collaborations over the years with some of the best breweries in the province, one of the more notable being the annual Blood of Cthulhu Imperial Stout for Halloween. When Bar Hop BrewCo opened near the end of 2015, excitement over what to come was understandably high.
Flash forward to this week, and Bar Hop have, after quite some time of recipe formulation and bureaucratic red tape, finally released their first four beers at the Peter Street location. And to the shock and surprise of absolutely no one, they’re quite delicious.
Interestingly, the goal of Bar Hop’s beers aren’t so much to outdo the wide selection of other beers already available, but to complement it. With a beer list that frequently changes, it’s often good to have several reliable house beers to lean on when indecision overtakes you. Even better if those beers are of a high quality, as Bar Hop’s are.
Here are the four debut beers available now:
Miracle Cure Saison is set to be the patio sipper when warm weather hits, and will be the year-long offering of Bar Hop. At about 5.3% ABV, the beer has a light grain character up front with distinct notes of pear, followed by a dry, white pepper finish. Spanish Red, a barrel-aged farmhouse blend made with tart cherries, raspberries, and blackberries, with the first two being more prominent than the last. Tremolo (v2) is going to be one for the brett-heads out there. It’s a mixed fermentation farmhouse beer, with a nice dose of funky brett and flavours of apricot, mango, and passion fruit, with a touch of red apple. Like its musical namesake, this beer will be on and off and will vary from batch to batch. Check out this version while you can. And finally, there’s Purple Jesus, a red wine barrel-aged farmhouse w/ fruit, that has distinct red wine notes in an overall dry mouthfeel, with delightful earthy character brought on, possibly, by the presence of blueberries. There’s almost something of a herbal tea feel with this beer, which makes it a rather comfortable beer. If you want to try it, however, best do it now. In all likelihood it won’t be returning.
I’d like to say I’m surprised by the quality of Bar Hop’s first in-house offerings, but with the type of reputation they have along with the skill and knowledge that the team bring to the table, I can’t. Of course they were going to be good. All I can say is that I’m glad they are finally here and I look forward to trying more.