These ladies know where to get good beer in Toronto?

There are two things that our city never lacks: fascinating people and interesting experiences. In this series, the Star asks the locals you know (and the locals you should know) about their Toronto.

Close friends and business partners Erica Campbell and Jaime Dobbs founded the Society of Beer Drinking Ladies in 2014 to support women working in the heavy beer industry.

Since then, they’ve hosted more than 50 events, sold merchandise, and partnered with a local brewery to release a monthly beer (like the recent Raspberry Lemon Ale brewed by Henderson Brewing Company).

Now the two are moving forward with the launch this month of the Society Clubhouse on College Street. It houses a cafe (selling coffee and beer from female-run breweries) and an event space (beer yoga is planned) that can be rented for parties, comedy nights, and mom and baby classes.

Campbell has been in town for over two decades. She has lived all over downtown, but currently resides on Gerrard Street and Carlaw Avenue, splitting her time between the clubhouse and head of LCBO sales for Blood Brothers Brewing. This mother of one is about to become a mother of two too.

For her part, Dobbs — who sells and supports licensee for Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company — has lived in Toronto since 1998 and, after decades downtown, bought a home with her husband and their many pets on Lawrence and Victoria Park Avenues in 2019.

This beer-loving duo knows the best drinking spots in town, and more.

What are some of the best places to have a beer in Toronto?

Dobbs: The only cafe on the Danforth. I used to live right across from it. It has an eclectic, kitschy decor and a great beer list. It’s really chill. You can go there in the morning for a cup of coffee and then drink a beer on the terrace all day long.

Campbell: Allen’s, on the Danforth, is a go-to spot. The service is great; it feels like New York in the 70s. There is also The Rebel House, in Yonge and Summerhill. It is owned by a husband and wife and they have been there for over 25 years. It is a special craft beer institution; they stop supporting breweries as soon as they are bought up by Molson or Labatt.

What are some of your favorite places in the city that are no longer there?

Dobbs: The Brunswick House in the annex. The Jam Factory, at Queen East and Broadview. When we did our first event for the Society, we were going to host it in my apartment, but then we sold 50 tickets. A friend of mine from high school worked there and they were roasting coffee on the ground floor and wanted to turn the upstairs into an event space. “Would you launch it with us?” we said. We had to scrub the place. We ended up organizing events in that space for years. Then it was bought out and became a great wedding venue, and we couldn’t afford it anymore. And now it’s closed.

Favorite urban nature spots?

Campbell: I love to roam the island, it’s magical. I have a 22 month old and one is about to pop. As a parent, I fell in love with the park system in Toronto. On the east side there are so many small parks, as well as Greenwood and Withrow. Sometimes we jump in the car and head west to Dufferin Grove or Christie Pits or High Park. I like the different languages, cultures and scenes in different parks.

Dobbs: I’m in North York now and the Don Valley trail and the Charles Sauriol Conservation Area are in my backyard. They just did renovations to add these epic iron bridges and they are just beautiful. It’s nice to go back there with the dogs and see some views. I saw a lot of deer there. There are many families, many people running and cycling; it’s a nice place to escape the madness of the city.

Any other finds in that part of Toronto?

Dobbs: We recently went to Diana’s Oyster Bar and Grill. Diana’s Fish Market supplies many of the top restaurants in Toronto and Prince Edward County. We ate in the restaurant and it was great, with a great menu. The beer list needs work.

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