Toronto is blessed with a lot of great beer bars. You can choose to argue with that statement, but be prepared to be smacked down every time. And while I unequivocally love them, they no longer fascinate me. They have wonderful beer, serve it properly and therefore appeal to the beer geeks of the city. They are not just bars, they are beer bars. And while I was sitting in Opera Bob’s Public House on Tuesday night, I loved it because it was a bar that happened to serve good beer. To me, this seemed like a more daring proposition than operating a bar the catered to the beer intelligentsia. The better beer bars have more of a guaranteed clientele. I doubt many of their owners stay up late at night wondering if anyone will show up the next day. But to operate at Dundas West and Ossington with a permanent tap list that included Steamwhistle, Creemore, Wellington Dark, Flying Monkeys Hoptical Illusion, and Mill Street Tankhouse, Organic and Cobblestone Stout (plus one rotating tap)? My hat is off to you, fair publican.
Initially, I thought the above list was really safe (and admit it, so did you). Creemore, Steamwhistle and Mill Street Organic? But then I sat down with some friends of friends and noticed a quick look of panic and confusion when they recognized none of the beers. When you hang around beer geeks long enough it is easy to forget that unfamiliar beers and the bars that serve them can seem intimidating. A bar like Opera Bob’s is operating in a weird demographic where it isn’t really appealing to the high or low end beer drinker. I don’t know much about the business side of running a bar, but I suspect it is harder to run a profit in this middle ground. However, it is this type of bar that will likely lead people to discover craft beer – there may have even been a possible convert on Saturday when someone tried the Hoptical Illusion. So a big cheers to all the bars out there preaching craft beer, especially when beer geeks overlook you.
The guest tap of the moment was the King Pilsner, which is overdue for a write-up. The pilsner style will never be dear to my heart, but I appreciate a nice biscuity, grassy and hoppy version ocassionally. And when it doesn’t have to cross the ocean to get into my glass, that’s even better. (Another nice touch about Opera Bob’s: the bartender took the time to ask what we thought about our beers.) Then a Flying Monkeys Hoptical Illusion, which never amazed me in the bottle but the grapefruit sang in the draught version. And then a Mill Street Cobblestone Stout and poutine at the neighbouring Lakeview Lunch. A decent take on the dry Irish stout and a great bargain at $4. The lacing obscured one full side of the glass, which was something I hadn’t seen before.
Today: 1.65L. Year-to-date: 143.23L.