The concept of prohibition may seem quaintly antiquated today, but the rebellious spirit it sparked lives on. Enter Toronto’s Saloon League, a so-called “underground drinking society” inspired, at least in part, by the city’s secret supper club, Charlie’s Burgers.
The Saloon League’s Twitter tagline — “Beer and chaps. We like to drink things we can't normally get” — pretty much sums up the organization’s MO. Members congregate monthly at private residences to enjoy the illicit thrill of drinking beer not otherwise available through conventional channels. Organizers haul kegs of cool stuff — mostly selections from small craft breweries in the States — across provincial and national lines and invite folks signed onto their mailing list to enjoy their smuggled virtues. The gatherings are publicized via social media, and guests receive details by way of individualized invitation. There’s no cover charge, but the expectation of the 25 or 30 imbibers who regularly participate is that they’ll return the favour by hosting a future get-together.
Since the 2011 launch of the group — whose name is a throw to the Prohibition-era lobby group, the Anti-Saloon League — such obscure suds as New Glarus, Founders, AleSmith and Hopfenstark, whose hoppy offerings flow from a microbrewery in L’Assomption, Quebec, are just a few of the brews that have been enthusiastically enjoyed by its participants.
It all sounds promising enough, but newcomers maybe shouldn’t get their hopes too worked into a head. “I went to one of these parties,” a guy named Steven reported on a social media site on January 20, “and it was just a bunch of guys sitting around a case of Blue Light scratching their balls.”