When Chicago’s Goose Island Brewery announced it was opening a brewhouse in Toronto we didn’t realize they meant it so literally. At the newly open watering hole near St. Lawrence Market, beer lovers will find themselves sitting right in the middle of brewing operations.
The massive 18,000 square foot space, formerly Fionn MacCool’s, is connected from the inside to the adjacent Bier Markt offers over 100 seats inside plus 75 on the front patio, and 60 in the beer garden back patio that enjoys a view of one Toronto’s last remaining Bansky’s.
Most striking about the interior is, the absence of any real partitions between beer maker and beer drinker. Guests will find themselves surrounded by the state-of-the-art BrauKon brewing system. Forget taking a tour, head brewer Bernard Priest-Blais is already in earshot and he likes to talk about beer.
Priest-Blais is a recent transplant to Toronto from Montreal who studied molecular biology with the aim of turning amateur brewer to pro, one with an especially good understanding of the mechanisms of yeast and how to control it to influence flavour profiles.
Along with Assistant Brewer Marc Mammoliti (formerly GLB), Priest-Blais is developing recipes that dominate the taps at the Toronto brewhouse and are offered in addition to the brand’s core brews and select small batches imported from south of the border.
In addition classic Goose Island offerings (a namesake IPA, Honkers Ale, and Four Star Pilsner), the opening line-up includes in-house originals; ’59 Brown American Brown Ale, Off-Season Lager Marzen, Bitter Half English Bitter, Midnight Oil Coffee Porter, Cult Classic Munich Dunkel, Kaiser Geyser Kellerbier, Mantis Double IPA, Quite a Thing Saison, and Allora, a bright pink beer infused with the flavours of flash-frozen raspberries.
To accompany the new brews while also paying tribute to the brand’s Chicago roots, the menu developed by Bier Markt Executive Chef Kevin Maniaci and Chef de Cuisine Shawn Jackson offers a concise line-up of classic bar foods; mussels and frites, an all-day Benny, wings, charcuterie, and one of the most delicious Reuben sandwiches I’ve had this side of Steeles.
In a nod to Chicago, there’s a plump-infused sausage dog loaded with onions, tomatoes, hot peppers, and mustard, while Maniaci shares with Daily Hive that he’s also looking forward to doing takes on a deep dish or introducing Toronto to goat tacos.
While there’s not a bottle shop on site, there’s growlers ready and waiting to be filled with fresh beer for take-home.
Address: 70 The Esplanade, Toronto