Bar Hop | Toronto | King St W, Peter St, Danforth Ave
If you live outside of Toronto and haven’t had the opportunity to explore the city, you’ve probably wondered what the at-times-aggressive fuss is about. “Yeah, sure, I mean, I like the CN tower,” you’ve probably said, or, “I went to a Jay’s game once,” quick to add, “before they were good.” But, beyond those obvious attractions, it can be hard to see what’s so great about downtown Toronto. If you want to get drunk at a chain restaurant, you’re better off getting someone to drop you off at the mall than navigating the entertainment district on a Friday night. And if you want to stand in line behind a velvet rope for a club you can’t afford you can always – well, actually, maybe the entertainment district is your best bet for that. For years that was the downtown Toronto bar scene. Luckily, those days are over now.
In the Spring of 2012, I was visiting a friend, pretending that his condo’s recycling room wasn’t cleaner than the house I shared with six other guys in a much smaller city three hours east, when he suggested we check out the bar that had just opened up a few blocks away. I was naturally wary as, usually, my visits necessarily revolved around big-box type bars and restaurants, but I agreed all the same. The bar was cleverly called Bar Hop, and my friend was pretty sure he remembered seeing such vaunted brewers as Dieu du Ciel and Great Lakes on their tap list. We hadn’t been sitting on the intimate (read: laughably small) patio for more than ten minutes when we realized we had found our new favourite place in the area.
Sitting in Bar Hop five years later it’s easy to see why. The atmosphere is as beautifully comfortable as ever, and, while the place may be busier, the bartenders and servers are no less friendly or helpful, and the beer selection has only grown.
The first beer I order, a Citra Grove Dry Hopped Sour from Beamsville, Ontario’s Bench Brewing pours a very pale cloudy yellow. The nose is slightly citrusy, and the finish is almost peachy with a hint of salt. At a very drinkable 6% abv it’s perfect for the Bar Hop patio and watching Jay’s fans walk by in search of a pre-game beer, not knowing they’ve just missed the best game in town.
My second beer, a proprietary brew, Bar Hop’s Tremolo 11 is a Mixed Fermentation Farmhouse Ale that pours golden and very clear, and smells, at least initially, like cider. Sweet but clean, with minimal funk, Tremolo 11 is one of four proprietary beers Bar Hop is now offering at their Brew Co. location, and, if it is any indication of things to come, the next five years of craft beer on King Street will be as bright as the last.
From offering a much needed downtown beer destination, to expanding to Peter Street [and recently to the Danforth], and developing their own beer recipes, all while maintaining the level of quality and friendliness that first drew people in, it’s no surprise that Bar Hop has taken home their fair share of Ontario’s Golden Tap Awards (in 2013, 2014, and 2015), including the coveted “Best Staff in Ontario” Golden Tap Award in 2014 and 2015.
Nick Blagrave, 2017