Beertown Public House is a group of beer-focused restaurants in Ontario, part of the Charcoal Group of Restaurants based in Waterloo, Ontario.
Waterloo is some 70 miles west of Toronto, a university and technology town. There is also an early and continuing Mennonite presence, originally an influx from the United States. Today the area is quite diverse in population.
Waterloo is paired often in discussion with nearby Kitchener, a city of similar origins, as Kitchener-Waterloo. Guelph, another university town, and Cambridge are not distant, and together they form a loose and growing economic region.
There are now eight Beertowns, the latest is on Wellington Street W. in Toronto, at University Avenue, in the downtown core. Beertowns were established earlier in Waterloo, Guelph, and Oakville among other centres outside Toronto.
The new Toronto location therefore marks a first for Beertown in this sense.
The Charcoal Group is owned by four partners, one of whom is Jody Palubiski, the long-time CEO. He was interviewed recently by Alan Quarry on Quarry’s Blog & Grill site. His remarks serve as good introduction to the Charcoal Group and its brands, including Beertown.
I had lunch there yesterday, and was impressed. Even though just opened everything ran smoothly. The beer selection is exemplary, craft to the max with some macro selections, and the food first-rate – I had Korean BBQ chicken wings.
The beer choice is divided into static (permanent) draft, static bottles, rotational bottles, rotational draft.
There is a terrace on one side, and circling the building considerable space is open to the sidewalk, so the effect is similar if you sit nearby. There are a number of beer-aware destinations in the downtown core, but another is always welcome, if the quality is good, certainly the case here.
Its location too on the western end of the core will help build its own base there. It is not that far from the Rogers Centre, and with the Blue Jays playing here again that will help bring the people.
No Beertown brews onsite, and I don’t think it’s really needed. With everything from lassi gose to bourbon-barrel Imperial Porter currently available at the Toronto location, no help is needed on the beer front, clearly.
I had a flight, skipping said porter – after a two-hour walk in 30 Celsius weather that didn’t seem the best idea.
Looking overseas for a moment, to London, U.K., a pub guide in 1976 noted that quite unexpectedly, traditional architecture seemed to blend harmoniously with “posh blocks with tinted glass”.
The book was speaking of the City (financial centre), but the observation in time has proved true for other parts of London, and the public house itself.
Canary Wharf had a pub early on, in fact, and I am sure there are many like it today in London office towers. There is of course the impressive Outpost Tower Hill Brewdog, and smaller Brewdogs in London, and elsewhere in the U.K.
North America led the way here, since it developed its urban centres later than the U.K., and perhaps sooner to the rhythm of modern commerce, but increasingly the two streams have joined.
And the truth is, for many patrons, the spirit of the public house is not affected. What “makes” the public house is not, necessarily, the landlord in the corner, Victorian bric-a-brac, a leafy garden, or a railway arch.
It is excellent beer, in quality and variety, other drinks, food if wanted, and people at the bar, if a chat is wanted.* All Toronto beer haunts have a central bar, including the latest ones in office blocks.
The pub evolves, but at the same time, remains the same, the good ones.
*Covid regulations permitting.