Patio Season is on the Horizon. I’ve officially put my winter jacket away and I refuse to bring it back out again until Christmas. This symbolic changing of the jackets also means that patio season is right around the corner.
In my days as a marketing guy at Steam Whistle Brewing we used to mark the changing of the season not by Wiarton Willie(and certainly not by Shubenacadie Sam who lied to us this year), oh no. We patiently watched for the patio at the famous Black Bull Tavern (298 Queen Street) to open. The opening of their patio meant that spring had officially sprung and we had been given permission to flood the streets a 5 o’clock and do some “quality control testing” (read: drink beers and call it work).
The Black Bull is the beer equivalent of the Farmer’s Almanac for beer patios. They are one of the first to open, and once they do, spring is here. No fooling. We would drop what we were doing and manhandle our way to a table up against the wall on the patio. The late setting sun shone straight down Queen Street and the heat coming off the west facing wall at the Bull would transport you to early summer. Beer, quite literally, never tasted so good.
But the Bull, though a lovely patio, is only one of many perfect beer drinking patios in the city. In fact, there are some truly outstanding patios in every corner of the city that are ready and waiting for the first legitimate beer drinking patio day.
(245 Queens Quay West) This patio merges two of my favourite things — craft beer and the water. This 360 person patio was one of the best things to happen in 2013 for beer drinking. Even though the patio is massive, this ain’t no hidden gem so it fills up fast. The first beauty afternoon of spring you are going to have to pull a Ferris Bueller and be the hero to your entire peer group by getting a choice table on this patio.
Betty’s (240 King Street East) I can go have a pint down at Betty’s any day of the year — I love that place. Amazing line up of beer, great atmosphere and the kitchen stays open until 2am, 7 days a week. But when that back patio is open I love it even more.
Ceili Cottage (1301 Queen Street East) Of course the Ceili would make my list — did you read my article last month? Not only is this one of the best patios in the city, it’s also a 4 season patio! That’s right, in the winter time the fine folks at the Ceili build a Yurt on their patio and transform it into “The Traveller’s Rest”. Summer or winter, you need to visit this patio.
The Rhino (1249 Queen Street West) The Rhino has been keeping craft beer drinkers quenched on their patio for over 20 years. The patio is big, the atmosphere always relaxed and the beer selection great. This patio is for craft beer lovers that don’t want to haggle over IBU’s and pretentiously sip barley wine — this patio is for drinking beer.
The Cadillac Lounge (1296 Queen Street West) Yes, it’s across the street from The Rhino but I just couldn’t decide which patio I actually liked better and they are completely different. The great thing is that if one is full you just have to cross the street. The Cadillac’s backyard patio is more intimate (in atmosphere – not size since it’s quite large) and less urban than its counterpart across the street but still boasts a great craft beer line up.
The Bier Markt (locations wherever you want to drink beer) Whichever one you go to you can be assured of 3 things: great patios, great food and most importantly the near-perfect pint of beer. They boast a refined and eclectic roster of beers from all around the world with a commitment to beer quality and education that is unparalleled. They take their beer seriously without taking it too far. If your standard dress is business casual or fancier you’ll fit right in at this slightly more refined patio experience. Just lose the tie before you order your beer. It’s a patio after all.
I’m heading down to a beer lovers’ mecca, the Craft Brewer’s Conference, held in Denver this year from April 8th to 11th. I am sitting in on a bunch of seminars, visiting a whack of breweries and bending a few elbows with a whole bunch of folks from around North America. Make sure to connect with me on Twitter and follow along.
Need some more recommendations?
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