Follow beer writer, Troy Burtch, as he explores the wonderful world of craft beer and the pubs that serve it. Great Canadian Beer is a place to come to catch up on beer news, read tasting notes, check out event listings, and for pub previews and reviews.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Stout Irish Pub: Toronto, ON

Stout Irish Pub
The beer drinkers of Toronto's Cabbagetown have a reason to smile today as the area welcomes the Stout Irish Pub, a pub that opened their doors this past week at 221 Carlton Street (Carlton and Parliament). A good friend and I decided to indulge in a couple of Sunday afternoon pints and we were both pleased to find this new establishment offering us a number of local Ontario craft beers and a comfortable atmosphere in which to enjoy them in.

The 506 College/Gerrard streetcar will drop you off just doors down from the Stout Irish Pub, a section of Toronto that has been lacking a pub with a craft beer frame of mind. Sure, there is The House On Parliament around the corner, and JamCafe isn't to far away, but local residents pining for a craft beer would be left to wander down to Yonge street to find something different than the likes of Guinness, Keith's, etc. 

The building that formerly housed the Brass Taps (pizza pub) has undergone significant renovations to conform to the vision that owner Erin Gamelin had in mind since purchasing the location. Gamelin, who spent many years working for establishments in both the Prime Pubs and FAB Concepts companies, including time at Bier Markt (where she gained an appreciation for quality beer) wanted to create a warm and inviting pub, and so far so good.

The outer facade now bares a new colour as black replaces the old dull yellow of the Brass Taps and new windows allow for a good amount of natural light to penetrate the interior. Two temporary signs hang above the door (the new permanent sign is now up), but like many things we noticed during our visit, touch-ups concerning aesthetics are ongoing everyday, for the better.
The Den

Walking in through the front doors you'll enter the lower level, already nicknamed "The Den" by Gamelin. There are a number of leather chairs in a circle that will be great for groups looking to chill in front of the gas fireplace that is situated along the western wall, next to a piano that has an interesting story behind it. "My father owned a bar in Alberta in the 60's and that piano was there for people to play. When I decided to open my own place I knew I'd have to get it shipped here for our customers," stated Gamelin as she sat with us by the fire and explained how Stout Irish Pub came to be.

Up a couple of stairs and onto the front section of the second level is the pub where you can choose from a large selection of beers produced by members of the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB). 20 in total, ranging from light lagers to hoppy IPAs. "We did a tasting a while ago to determine our beer line-up," stated Gamelin, who took part alongside her employees. "It was really tough as there are a lot of great beers out there."

There are a handful of bar stools to perch yourself on, or you can choose to sit at one of the hightop tables scattered in front of the wavy wooden bar. The back area of the second floor features more tables, low lighting, a more intimate setting for large groups. There are two television's in this room, on mute, that will play sporting events as they happen.

Back to the beers - as mentioned, the pub stocks a large number of beers produced by members of the OCB, including: Murphy’s Irish Stout, Caffrey’s, Steam Whistle, Mill Street Organic, Mill Street Tankhouse, Creemore, Great Lakes Cask - Seasonal Canuck, King Pilsner, Amsterdam Big Wheel, Big Rock Grasshopper, St. Andre Vienna Lager, Railway City Dead Elephant, Scotch Irish Corporals Bitter Brown Ale, Cameron’s Auburn Ale, Muskoka Cream Ale, St.Ambroise Oatmeal Stout, Apricot Wheat Ale, Scotch Irish Sgt. Major’s IPA, Big Rock Cider. Not the most diverse beer menu out there in Toronto, but a great start. Easy lagers for beginners, malty beers for the curious, and hoppy ones for the hopheads. The prices for certain points seem a tad expensive, but you'll find simliar pricing at various pubs throughout the city. I stuck with Great Lakes Canuck Pale Ale, and it was tasting damn fine.

And you'll notice I didn't mention Guinness on the list above. No, Gamelin chose not to put it on tap as you can find it almost everywhere, and she believes that Murphy's and St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout are terrific beers which more than make up for the lack of the world's most popular stout. 

Final Thoughts
There are flashes of FAB Concepts/Prime Pubs in the design in both the menu and layout, that "Irish pubco feeling", yet Gamelin seems to have done enough to distant her place from the others due to her beer selection and amenities like the piano and the fireplace. When we arrived, CBC radio was playing a mix of music that felt right in the pub. However, as it was getting time to leave we quickly noticed when CBC was switched and Michael Jackson was its replacement - not such a good fit. But you can't please everyone. Though, it should be pointed out that Gamelin plans to hosts Ceilidh's at the pub in the near future featuring individuals from the community.

Gamelin did come through on her promise of offering patrons a comfortable atmosphere to come relax in and the peat smoking away in the corner of "The Den" added to that warmness. A welcome addition to the Toronto craft beer scene.

Stout Irish Pub
221 Carlton Street East
Toronto, ON M5A 2L2

Back Room
Tap Handles


Steven said...

A great addition to Cabbagetown. Interesting selection of draughts - lots of local stuff. I had a burger - excellent. The staff were super friendly. And a very nice vibe. (But the music thing - I agree. Some 70's music radio station on, not a good fit.) I didn't like the space when it was Brass Taps. They've made it much warmer and more comfortable. A great alternative to that other pub in the hood.

M Garside said...

What a warm, inviting place. The beer was cold, the food was excellent. I had the beef stew, which looked a lot too fancy to be 'bar fare' but it was amazing. My wife had the fish and chips, and it was huge! (Good for me since I had to finish it off). Highly recommended. I'll be back soon!

T.S. said...

Since this opened up I visit here all the time. I just hope that it doesn't become TOO popular that I will need to wait in line! In the meantime, I'm going to check out their brunch menu on the weekends very soon. Already in love with the Beef Dip.

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