This little known gem is in downtown Hamilton. For a place outside of Toronto or Montreal it is incredible. Not only is there a host of bottled beer second to Smokeless Joe’s, but there are also many aged versions around. The manager is very dedicated to beer, and keeps the place open and staffed though it is very quiet weeknights. It is very presentable, and not to be missed if you are travelling through. Some rare finds here, such as beers from odd countries, and vintages from the LCBO 10 years ago. A bit too cold on some beers served, offset by thoughful service with the proper mugs.
Great spot for some rarities and other good stuff, but some of the bottles are of questionable age - which is great for the vintage bottle of something that has stood up to the test of time. Not so much for the more fragile english beers. An interesting place to say the least!
Like walking back in time. This bar could definitely use a bit of spit and polish. Very long bar up the side and a whole room full of very dank, very dirty carpet. That’s the bad - now the good. You won’t find a better bottle selection in Hamilton. I thought the prices were pretty fair - had a Lindeman’s Cuvee Rene. Friendly staff who seem to care about the beer. I’d love to see a few taps in here in addition to the bottles, but you can definitely find something you’ll like here.
Place bit cold and usually empty. Service varies from very good to just average. Extensive beer list of vintages but often they are out. Decent value. Good stop when in downtown.
cratez (256) Toronto, Ontario | February 21, 2011| Updated July 11, 2012
Fifth stop on a recent trip to Cambridge, Hamilton, and Niagara Falls with mrmanning.
This place resembles a 1920s cigar bar with faded wooden tables and chairs dispersed throughout an enormous, narrow establishment. A display of dusty beer bottles greets you at the front entrance. We grabbed a booth in the back where we enjoyed a night of drinks and laughs with our new-found friends from Bar Towel.
The main attraction at Chester’s is the extensive vintage bottle list, which includes hundreds of LCBO seasonals and private imports from various Belgian, English, German, and American breweries. All of the beers are listed in a book that invites patrons to "keep any can or bottle as a souvenir." Some brews are 10-20 years old and many of them cannot be found at other beer bars in Ontario.
Len and I both started with a Theakston Old Peculier, then split a 1996 Liefmans Goudenband, a 1998 Suffolk Strong Vintage Ale, and a 2009 Vapeur Cochonne. The Goudeband tasted excellent and the Cochonne was quite good; however, the Peculier and Suffolk were past their prime. We had a feeling that the low-mid gravity stuff would be less than stellar (since it’s not meant for cellaring), but we took a gamble anyway and got burned. Hence, I would recommend sticking to the stronger (7% or higher) offerings on the menu.
Service was prompt and courteous, though our waitress didn’t know much about the beers. They were also "out" of several bottles that we ordered. Michael, the eccentric owner, did not seem to recognize Len despite having shared numerous hard-to-find Belgians with him a few years ago. But all of the drinks arrived quickly and in their proper glassware, including a dubbel that came with a wooden coaster.
Overall, we had a nice evening here helped along by locals who know the Hamilton beer scene. Chester’s is a destination for anyone seeking rare bottles, though the menu needs to be updated to reflect current inventory.
Does have the feel of an empty Italian restaurant but the beer menu is very good. The night I was present I found the bartender as overly available (read: pushy). I appreciate the fact that she made herself available to me but would have enjoyed not being asked what I'd like next when I haven't yet finished what's in my glass. Chester's definitely had some great rarities in the 1993 NF Eisbock Gold and the bottles of Thomas Hardy. Good venue - I'd have likely been treated differently if there had been mroe than 6 of us in the place.
Nice bar, it has a nice long bar with an old time feel. to the entrance at the right there are a bunch of really old bottles that were fun to look at. Definitely this is the place to go to for bottles, sadly the only thing I saw on tap was canadian. They could sure use a few taps. I only ordered 1 beer but I struck out twice. and on my 3rd attempt to order a beer they finally had the beer I ordered. Overall, a decent place, not my favorite. But I would definitely head here again
What an odd place. Seems like this place is frozen in time from a bygone era...that smells a bit funky and could sure be spruced up. Nothing to speak of on tap but the most extensive bottle list in the city with some gems hiddem among them. Best bet is to sit at the small patio in the summer so you don’t have to deal with the interior at all and just enjoy good beer and good weather.
mds (100) Toronto, Ontario | September 10, 2006| Updated July 7, 2007
Huge cavernous place that didn’t seem all that busy. There’s a patio up front as well but only about 10 people in the entire place on a Saturday night.
Friendly staff and especially so when you’re with the venerable Doug Shoemaker. Extensive beer menu with a few specialties not found in Toronto including some superb aged beers like the Thomas Hardy’s from 1993.
I didn’t really pay much attention to the food menu but it seemed like mostly pub fare and I ordered the onion rings shortly before the kitchen closed at 22:00. Pretty solid place that I wouldn’t hesitate to visit again if I’m in Hamilton again. There’s also a convenient Go bus stop directly across the street.