Is there anything better than spending an afternoon inside a warm pub sipping from a port stout while the snow falls outside? If there is, I have yet to experience it.
Yesterday I decided to jump on the TTC and head west down Queen Street to one of Greg Clow’s local hangouts: the Rhino. This is another establishment that came highly recommended by readers of this blog so I took advantage of a day off and chatted with Chris, the general manager.
The Rhino is located in the Parkdale neighbourhood, along Queen Street West, just west of Dufferin Street and has been since 1991. What set’s the Rhino apart from other pubs/restaurants in the area is their vast bottled beer selection and the quality of their draught lineup. It wasn’t always so though. Chris mentions that the family-run beer destination only started expanding their beer menu three years ago, something that came out of personal passion. He also noticed that the beer market was starting to change as more and more people were drinking less but drinking better and he decided to take advantage of the change.
Today there are 280 different names on their bottled beer menu from countries such as: Argentia, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Trinidad, Ukraine and the United States. There are currently only 205 in stock as of yesterday and they range from mass produced beers from large companies to the smallest of microbreweries. Breweries here in Ontario are well represented at the Rhino in regards to bottled beer.
The Rhino also had a winter beer menu that included: Black Oak Nutcracker Porter, Great Lakes Winter Ale, Sanichlaus (Austria), O’Hanlon’s Port Stout, Fullers Vintage 2006, St. Peters Winter Ale, Samuel Smith Winter Welcome and Wychwood Bah Humbug. Each bottle was priced in respect to its size and degree of availability. I choose a bottle of O’Hanlon’s Port Stout for $7.35, which I thought was reasonable for such an award winning beer.
In addition to the volume of bottled beer already mentioned, the Rhino also boasts a great draught selection. Rhino Lager, Creemore Premium Lager, Durham County Cask ESB, Hockley Dark, Steam Whistle, Guinness, Wunderweisse, Blackhorn Dry Cider, Blanche de Chambly, Wellington Arkell Best Bitter, Mill Street Tankhouse, Affligem Abbey Blonde and Denisson Dunkel. So, if you’re in the mood for a delicious pint or a hard to find bottle, make sure to venture over to the Rhino.
Chris mentions it has been very trying at times trying to obtain hard to find beers as importers have to jump through hoops to bring the beer into the province. But, over the last three years Chris has noticed just how much his beer menu has impacted the business. People come from all over to try something new and he takes great pride in knowing that the Rhino is regarded as one of Toronto’s better beer destinations.
As soon as you’re through the front door, you’re immediately in the main room. Hardwood floors, orange painted walls, a section of an exposed brick wall, large floor to ceiling windows looking out to Queen Street and the octagon shaped bar round out the wide open concept. At the back of the main level is two sets of stairs. One on the left and one on the right. Walk up the left set of stairs in your in a fine dining snug with long tables covered in white table clothes and romantic lighting. Walk up the right set of stairs and your in a large meeting room that has two pool tables, a large screen tv and a bunch of pub furniture. Chris mentions that it’s a great place for large gatherings like sports teams, work parties and birthday parties. There is also a large patio for the warmer months ahead.
The large bar has been made in the shape of an octagon and features a large plastic rhino head above, protecting the patrons. The bar is so large that it could easily fit 30 people around it while sitting in the bar back stools. A nice visual attraction is the tusk used as a tap handle for the Rhino lager.
The Rhino provided me with the perfect escape from the wind and snow with their nice setting and great beer. This place is highly recommended for the serious beer lover or those who wish to expand their palates.
So, what is with the name Rhino? Chris and his family wanted to bring awareness to the plight of wild rhino’s being poached in Africa. “We wanted people to ask us about the name when they visited the pub so we could tell them our story.” The family also has plans to adopt a wild rhino in Africa.