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Smokeless Joe

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BA SCORE
95
world-class

41 Ratings
Ratings: 41
Reviews: 40
rAvg: 4.32
pDev: 8.56%
Taps: 0
Bottles: 0
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

488 College St
Toronto, Ontario, M6G 1A4
Canada
phone: (416) 966-5050
// CLOSED //



Notes:
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(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
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Ratings: 41 | Reviews: 40 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by crwills:
Photo of crwills
4.45/5  rDev +3%

I've been to this place countless times, and it remains my favourite beer bar in Toronto, hands down. Volo and Beerbistro are good, but for a real pub feel it's Smokeless all the way for me. I always sit at the bar, and feel comfortable and welcome regardless of whether I'm with friends or alone.

Fantastic selection of beer, obviously, although it would be nice to see a little more variety on the (6?) taps. New, semi-obscure Belgians on a relatively regular basis, with a permanent list of good fallbacks (including most Trappists). My one criticism would be an almost non-existent supply of American beers, which Volo seems to get more of, but not a huge deal for me. Food menu is limited, but the mussels and oysters are excellent and great matches for the wide selection of Belgian beers. I'd also recommend the vegetarian chili if you're there in the Winter.

Service is usually prompt, knowledgeable, and friendly, although they can be a little standoffish if you go early and the place is empty. Prices are on the high end; you can find some of the Belgians at better prices elsewhere in the city, but you really can't beat the selection here.

Although I like to try (and return to) most of the good beer joints in Toronto, I'll continue returning here on a regular basis.

crwills, Jul 24, 2007
More User Reviews:
Photo of valianes
3.75/5  rDev -13.2%

valianes, Oct 16, 2013
Photo of ltdan546
4.13/5  rDev -4.4%

One of my favourite beer places ever in Toronto, and home to some of my favourite bartenders (Colin, Eddie, Steph and Kaylea) of all time. Alas, it has now closed. Word is it will re-open in a new location, possibly Little Italy, probably late this year or early next. Fingers crossed.

If you're looking for something similar, try C'est What at the corner of Front & Church. If you just need something nearby I'd suggest the Adelaide Street Pub...completely different feel, but decent beer selection.

ltdan546, Jul 10, 2011
Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.9/5  rDev -9.7%

An interesting little beer bar in the heart of the entertainment district. They had a decent selection of local craft beer and European beer on tap. There were about 10 taps in total along with an extensive bottle list from all over the world.

Overall the selection was pretty good but I thought the choice of taps could have been better. I had a pint of Black Katt, which was very good but there was nothing else that really jumped out at me to stay for a second pint.

The service was very good. The bartender was EXCELLENT. She had a great knowledge of beer in general and knew the beer they had on tap cold.

The atmosphere was great too - very small and intimate setting. I will go back some time soon...

TheSevenDuffs, Jul 31, 2010
Photo of cratez
4.28/5  rDev -0.9%

Dropped by in Winter 2011 and I’m really impressed with the new space. Beer selection is 20 micro draughts, a small but carefully selected bottle list, and a different cask ale every Sunday.

Bar is probably about three times the capacity of the old place when you factor in the upstairs and patio. Had a Durham Black Katt Stout and Spearhead HSPA on tap, both in fine form.

It’s nice to see Colin and Steph at the helm again. Aside from Adam Grant at The Monk’s Table, you won’t find better servers in Toronto. Haven’t tried the food yet but fresh oysters and other beer-friendly items are always available.

Seems like Smokeless is back in a big way, and I’m looking forward to many more visits in the future.

cratez, Nov 11, 2009
Photo of MeisterBurger
3.7/5  rDev -14.4%

Smokeless Joe has an incredibly impressive list of bottled beers though their tap selection was limited to six. Six very good, very well chosen beers though.

The decor was pretty standard Toronto bar decor. I don't know. I went there for the beer, not for the decorations.

There were maybe two dozen people in the bar when I visited, which meant it was packed. This is just a small little basement bar on John Street, a short walk south of the Chum City building. The cramped space made it seem really loud, almost unbearably so. Plus Smokeless Joe must have been hosting the general meeting of The Toronto Annoying Laughs Society when I was there.

Surprisingly a great deal of the bottled selection is stuff that you can find readily in many LCBOs. The main difference is the price. As a for instance, a Rogue Brutal Bitter which retails at the LCBO for $6.35 is going for $16.95 here.

Don't get me wrong, they can charge whatever they want and if people are willing to pay that then more power to them. As I am very cheap and could never pay more for something than I had to, I opted to go for Durham ESB on tap. Which was really nice, probably more of a bitter than any ESB I have had, but a really nice mild beer with a wonderfully creamy, smooth mouthfeel.

Only trouble was, there was a weird smell when I was there which reminded me of the inside of a rubber boot. It wasn't enjoyable and it detracted from the enjoyment of my beer because I don't like when beer tastes like I am drinking it from an old boot.

I'd planned to stay and have a couple of beers but with the noise and the smell...pretty much I was done.

If this was the only place in Toronto with a great beer selection I'd probably rank it a lot higher and rave. But there are at least three or four other places in downtown Toronto that I would much rather spend my money at so I'd have to say I was disappointed by this place.

MeisterBurger, Mar 30, 2009
Photo of hammerhead24
3.78/5  rDev -12.5%

Joe's was the last stop on a trifecta night of C'est What, Beer Bistro and then Joe's.

Let me start by saying that it is extremely hard to find for an out-of-towner. It is not far from the subway stop, but it is a basement bar that I walked by twice on a freezing cold, snowy night. Let me also say it was worth the search.

It is a small, intimate place with a bar that runs the length of the narrow deep space. There are also bar stools set up along a ledge on the far wall and just a few tables. It can get crowded quick I would imagine.

I was able to get a bar seat relatively quicky and set about perusing the beer list. Here, the emphasis is on bottles, not draft beer, although Joe's does have a few taps.

I stuck to the bottles and many countries of the world were represented (including Kenya), although Canadian micros and Belgians dominated the list. The highlight for me was a bottle of Sgt. Major IPA from the Scotch Irish Brewing Company. It was like a bitter hop bomb of the tastebuds -- a highlight of the evening. I also had a Well's IPA, which was quite good as well, just not in the same league.

I did not eat here, although the mussels smelled divine. I had had mussels at my last stop, so I had to pass. But, they are cooked right behind the bar and smell wonderful. People around me raved as they tucked into there orders.

hammerhead24, Mar 13, 2009
Photo of TurdFurgison
4.13/5  rDev -4.4%

This pub is basement level, to the left of the Fat Belgian restaurant. The atmosphere is decent, a long bar dominates the room with many seats along it, also several tables sprinkled along the wall. The beers seemed on the pricy side ($7-8 CAD for drafts) but they were good selections. I had Denison's Weisse beer, a highly rated Canadian beer. The bottled list is about 50 beers deep and strongly influenced by Belgian craft beers, although there are some respectable American beers in stock too. The food was reasonably priced and VERY good. I had Mussels steamed in Blanche de Chambly, probably the best mussels I've had to date. There were 7-8 other methods used for mussels and I bet they were all good. The bottom line is this is a good pub to go to for dinner, and you can move on to C'est What or Beer Bistro afterwards for more selection of draft beers.

TurdFurgison, Feb 07, 2009
Photo of Peterborough
3.26/5  rDev -24.5%

I was excited to visit Smokeless Joe's, having noticed their name in a recent copy of Beer Advocate Magazine (best beer bistros in the world, I believe, was the category they were placed under).

I'm sad to say that I was disappointed. The menu featured many beers which can be purchased at the LCBO (Ontario's government run outlet wine, beer and spirits), for under 5 dollars, marked up to 10-12 dollars, with no obvious justification (beers did not appear to be poured into their proprietary glassware, or served on a proprietary coaster, setting was bare bones). I understand that the LCBO does not tend to charge retailers a significantly lower amount for wholesale purchases, and that profits must be made, but 120% markups, with no obvious fringe benefits, are unacceptable. In the realm of special order and rare beers, I just flat out found the prices too high.

I found the servers to be friendly but, on the whole, inattentive. I will not likely return to this establishment. It is sad that my local beer bistro, St. Veronus, beats the pants off Smokeless Joes, particularly because I live in a small city, with very few immigrants, and a high unemployment rate, hence a population with limited beer tastes, and expendable income (Peterborough, Ontario).

If you want an insanely rare beer, I bet you might find it here, but you will pay a premium, and the setting, though charmingly spartan, really lacks something.

Peterborough, Jan 23, 2009
Photo of JJFlash
3.88/5  rDev -10.2%

This is a great little find on John Street. Also right next door to the Fat Belgian which was convienent. Quite small and narrow, much like an average neighborhood bar. The opening hour is generally between 3 - 4 o'clock. The staff was very knowledgeable about beer and attentive to our needs. The beer list is long, tho the Belgian list was a bit too skimpy. However, the two big highlights were a 2005 Pannepot Grand Reserve, and Deus. Well worth stopping at and checking the specials on the chalk board. Good place to hang out. We did not try the food as it didn't appear to be a food place. Recommended.

JJFlash, Oct 19, 2008
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Smokeless Joe in Toronto, ON, Canada
95 out of 100 based on 41 ratings.