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.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The 3 Brewers: Toronto, ON

The 3 Brewers
275 Yonge Street
Toronto, Ontario
Tel: 647.347.6286

After 3+ years of negotiations and tireless work trying to crack the Ontario market, Les 3 Brasseurs, or The 3 Brewers as they're going by in Toronto, opened June 15th on Yonge Street just south of the newly developed Dundas Square. It has been an interesting time watching the building transform from an empty shell on a prime piece of Toronto real estate into what it is today.

"The building that sat here before only had one floor and when we took it over it was a complete shell. We pretty much built this place from scratch," stated Gerry Kakaroubas, one of the owners of Les 3 Brasseurs. "We are really excited about finally being open here in Toronto, a city that appears to be interested in the craft beer movement that is sweeping North America." Kakaroubas was in town to watch over the first few days of operations before heading back to his home in Montreal and was very pleased with the turnout on day one.

Les 3 Brasseurs was established by a family of brewers back in 1986 with the first establishment opening in Place de la Gare a Lille in Northern France. The company became so successful that many more sites were opened in France, 28 to be exact, and the company soon set their sights on the Quebec market. There are now five locations in Montreal each with capacities nearing 300, and each location produces and serves the same beers, using the same recipes.

The Toronto location is no different than the others, layout excepted. The same five beers are brewed on-site and seasonal products are expected to be offered to customers in the very near future. "We have been brewing here in Toronto and we currently have our four draught beers available," stated Kakaroubas as he lead a group of us on a tour of the entire restaurant/brewpub. "Right now you can order our Blond, Amber Passion (Red), Belgian Wit, and Virago Brown Ale from the tap lines, and our La Belle Province bottled beer is currently fermenting downstairs." La Belle Province is an Amber brewed with maple syrup. Unlike other brewpubs, The 3 Brewers won't be selling growlers or the La Belle Province for take home, not yet anyways.

Upon entering the Toronto location you are immediately standing in front of the glassed in brewing vessels. The copper kettles are polished and shining, catching the attention of each individual who enters. Heading past the brewing area you'll come to the long attractive 'L' shaped wooden bar with a copper topping. You'll find 15 or so bar back chairs waiting to accommodate you.

The bartender pours pints from the copper covered draught tower, which hides the lines that come down from the cooling tanks holding the finished product. No kegs here, everything comes straight from the tanks. "We plan to brew 28 days a month in this location," said Kakaroubas. "In Montreal we brew 30-35 batches a month, so we're playing it safe here for now, but we'll see what happens."

Above the bar sits a number of wooden barrels and old wooden beer crates baring Les 3 Brasseurs lettering, which are suspended on a loft-like barn floor. This bar, although new, shiny, and sleek, has an old European feel to it. It could be because one of the brewers was standing behind the bar talking to customers, pouring beer with his apron on.

In front of the bar is a long island seating area with more high bar back chairs that face the opposite wall of the bar and separate the room. A number of booths are in the front of the island, but are separated by etched glass atop the lengthy island, offering a little privacy.

Back out to the front of the building. There are a bunch of tables situated close to the large windows, which open up to offer patrons an unobstructed view of the always busy Yonge Street. The windows were open last night and the nice gentle breeze coming in off the street was pleasant. The open windows are also a great way of attracting customers. Many people walked by, glanced in, turned around and came in to check things out, sometimes walking in through the window. "I think we'll get a lot of foot traffic stopping by. Whether it be shoppers from the mall across the road, or people leaving the theatre."

Right in the middle of the pub is a set of stairs that take you up to the second level where more seating awaits. When walking up the stairs you'll notice a large wooden sign illustrating the brewing process in graphic format. To the immediate left of the stairs is a brick encased gas fireplace that will be pleasant to sit near during our cold winter months. Although the second floor is large and spacious, it still retains a small cozy atmosphere with a number of small 'snugs' tucked away on the rear wall. There are a number of small tables right next to a couple of windows that put you right above Yonge street, a good place to people watch. The east side of the building features the fermenting tanks, surrounded by glass panels and is decorated with green hop stenciling. And just like the copper tanks below on the first floor they're nice and shiny.

Up another flight of small stairs and you're on the third level where another full service bar is in full swing. More seats, some attractive wooden brewing barrels hanging from the ceiling with chains, along with the bottom of an old maltster and more beer crates and scattered beer signage are all situated on this floor and create a nice visual affect.

One more flight of stairs and you're almost shaking God's hand. There is a private entertaining area that can accommodate up to 50 guests that Kakaroubas states will be used for birthday's, special events, and private parties. A large skylight brings in a lot of natural light that transmits down to the 1st floor and creates a beautiful glow off the tanks.

As you can gather, this brewpub is huge. Kakaroubas mentions that capacity is set at 300 and on busy weekend nights I have no doubt that this place will be rocking from street level all the way to the top. The music can be a little loud and abrasive, but it did settle down as the night wore on. All the servers were friendly and courteous and to show how serious they are about their business Kakaroubas has brought over a number of experienced staff from Montreal locations to work here in Toronto. "Some of the cooks, servers, and managers have relocated to Toronto from Montreal to get us up and running and one of the brewers recently came back from brewing at the Papeete location in the French Polynesia to brew here."

The beers are well made, subtle, not crazy, but definitely done right. After sampling all five during our visit I walked away thinking that the Belgian Wit was the best of the bunch - nice and refreshing, thirst quenching and true to style. The price per pint is quite reasonable too. A pint of the Blond and the Red cost $5.50 and the Wit and the Brown will set you back $5.85. Pitchers run for $13.95 and $14.95 and a sample of the four draught beers cost $6.75. And The 3 Brewers also offer the option of purchasing a one litre glass at $8.75 - $9.10, a great deal for the hefty mug, or schooner as the boys out east call them. A bottle of the La Belle Province cost $11.45 and we had ours poured by the brewmaster himself, making sure the bottle didn't touch the glass. The beer geeks out there will also be happy to hear that the Toronto location will take part in the seasonal beer program that all other locations offer. "We will be doing new beers every two months or so, like a Christmas beer, an Oktoberfest, a Spring beer, and more," claimed Kakaroubas.

I was impressed with my first ever visit to a Les 3 Brasseur location and I welcome the Toronto brewpub with open arms. Ontario needs to see more of this. Lord knows we have the room. It's a great addition to the local beer scene and I hope it attracts both the most serious of beer drinkers to the inexperienced.

***Video courtesy of Cass Enright.


Anonymous said...

We stopped here on our way to Riverdance on their 2nd day. Nice place, beer very enjoyable and service good. Food prices a little high for the quantity I felt and the ceasar salad needed much more garlic and the croutons need seasoning. Other than that our food was very pleasant and I would recommend this pub, and would go back again to try something else on the menue.

citypainter said...

Great review, your impressions were very similar to mine after one visit. Can't wait to return
(repeatedly!) and looking forward to those seasonal special beers. One note, though: the pub is actually just south of Dundas Square, not north as mentioned in the first paragraph.

Real Estate in Toronto said...

Oh my, amazing review. I am definitely going to check out this place. Maybe I'll make it a surprise for a friend of mine who enjoys a good beer. Thanks for the recommendation :)

Take care, Elli

Troy Burtch said...

Citypainter - thanks for catching the typo. It has since been fixed. And good to hear that you're a fan.

REIT - thanks for the kind words.


Japhet said...

I randomly stopped whilst passing through was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. The flight of beers is a great introduction to what they offer but the special brew blew me away.

It's a red ale called Indian Ocean and has hints of clove and vanilla thrown into the mix; very tasty.

The mussels didn't blow me away but I'll be back with friends.

Anonymous said...

My first expereince here was better than my second.
Just stopped by on the weekend, Sunday for lunch. The music was very loud, so we asked if they could turn it down just a little. Twice. As did the table behind us. It was never turned down. You literally had to raise your voice to speak to someone in front of you. This is a pub, not a night club, and it was Sunday at noon.
It was very hard to get the attention of the serever, and the hostess simply stared blankly at the tables.
The food is bland - there is nothing Mexican about the Mexican Wrap, and the portions, as others have said, are small for the price. The beers though are fantastic. Go there to drink after dinner, or before a show.
They really need to step it up a notch on the food if they want to capture the Yonge Street crowd.

Troy Burtch said...

Just a reminder - no anonymous comments are posted

Rebecca said...

April 9th 2011

I'd give it 3 out of 5 stars. Here was my experience.
We arrived (myself and my friend) around 3:00pm and were taken straight to a table BUT were told that the table was booked for 6pm and asked if we could leave by then. We said yes and thought we would be fine until 5:30 or so.

Our waitress was wonderful. Friendly, attentive, and full of recommendations from the menu. I will say the service was fast and the alcohol was good but the food was mediocre at best.
I ordered:
3 Brewers burger (burger cooked in a blond beer, with cheddar,bacon, lettuce, tomato, and onion.)
now this burger sound exactly like a burger I order from one of my local pubs and I have to say I love that burger. So I had high hopes for this one.

Sadly those hopes were dashed.
Firstly the "cheddar" was actually a piece of processed cheese. Not actual cheese. If I wanted process cheese I'd go to McDonald's. And second the bacon was two strips of the small bacon I had EVER seen. This was not what I expected from an 11.99 burger. I will have to say the burger it self was good and the fries nice and crispy. I ordered for dessert a flamm with apples and whipped creme and a Parisian coffee (Coffee with chocolate, and Grand Marnier) both were wonderful!

But what kind of ruined our experience (and was what brought me review down to a 3 star)was the hostess. she came up and looked around our area eying us at 4:30, then approached us at 4:45pm to remind us of the 6pm reservation then eyed us AGAIN at 5:05pm and reminded us AGAIN at 5:15pm. We KNEW we had to leave by 5:30pm or so but she was just rude.
We left our table spotless so the wait staff didn't have a huge clean up.

I would go back, but order something different completely. Since they seen to do the Flamm so well I would probably try one of those. And like I said if it wasn't for the rude Hostess I probably would've given the 3 brewers a 3.5 or 4 just for quickness in service and for the wait staff.

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