Beer Experience

I entered a contest a few weeks ago, for free tickets to The Beer Experience in Toronto, and promptly forgot about it. Until Wednesday, when I was informed that I had won!

I have a new favourite beer festival. The space, the Berkely Church, is interesting with all kinds of unique areas (including a treehouse!), and the breweries all had a good selection of beer not found at the LCBO or Beer Store. Katherine and I were happy to see that there were a lot of really interesting stouts and porters. Highlights for me were 33 1/3 by Beau’s, 1606 from Sawdust City and Clifford Brewing’s porter.

inside the church area


The Only and The Roundhouse

Two beer fests in two days. I really do love my life right now.

The first was The Only Summer Beerfest on Friday. They do this four times a year, and the summer is timed to take place with the Taste of the Danforth. This was my first one, and I was pouring for St. Ambroise.

My view of Friday night.

It seemed like a pretty quiet night, and I poured a bunch of Death Valley Belgian IPA (way better on draught than in bottles, IMHO) and Raspberry Ale. I had lots of great conversations with other folks working the festival, like Fabian of the Only, Erica from Black Oak, Andy from Oast, and Brian (I think that’s his name) from Pommies. Huge thanks to Jerry from Brimstone, who took my Twitter request seriously and brought me a bottle of their Nutmare On Elm Street!

Fabian’s beer sticker collection.

The next day, I met Katherine and Michael to be on the other side of the jockey box for a few hours at the Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival. It was well laid out, and there were more breweries there than I expected. However, a lot of it was same old same old, geared to APA and IPA fans with little that wasn’t available at the LCBo or Beer Store. And alas, not a lot of stouts of porters as a lot of folks don’t drink them in summer I guess. Highlights were the Russian Imperial Stout from Wellington, Bottle Imp from Beau’s and 12 Minutes to Destiny from Flying Monkeys. Lowlights were the two breweries who were pouring beer with some serious off-flavours; we encountered a stout with a diacetyl issue and a nut brown ale with really bad sour note.

Nice marketing hook.
I saw many good beer tshirts; this was my favourite.
I love this picture for many reasons.



Hart House Beer Festival

Finally, the event I waited for all year arrived: the Hart House Beer Festival.

I took my friend Katherine (aka That Damned Canasian), and we wandered around the venue (what is that open spot in the middle of Hart House called? do they call it a quad? a square?), sipping good beer, eating some great food and listening to great beats courtesy of CIUT’s Higher Ground.

There were more breweries than last year, but not a lot of brews I couldn’t find at the LCBO or Beer Store, which was a bit disappointing. I got to try Mill Street’s Ginger Cat, a ginger wit that I was curious about, but only comes as part of their seasonal sampler. I will freely admit to being a ginger-holic, and so was underwhelmed by the ginger in it. I tried Double Trouble’s Revenge of the Ginger next, which had a nice ginger heat balanced by the hop/citrus finish.

Standouts for me were Oast House’s cherry Berliner Weisse and Amsterdam’s Shape Shifter, a lovely barrel aged strong ale that made it all better.

When I remembered to take photos of what I drank
Nice space, and they didn’t pack us in like sardines.
Obligatory arty-ish night shot.




Day 36

There were no classes today (thank you, oh schedule gods!) so I caught up on sleep and homework until mid-afternoon when I headed to the school for beer club.

I had put my name in the hat to be the class rep for beer club, and was kind of surprised to find I’d been picked. A little sad too, as that meant that I was no longer able to apply for the Caps, Corks and Forks team. C’est la vie.

Beer club is broken into two parts, the first being the free part where some students bring in homebrew for a group tasting. I have to say that the stand-out homebrew was a milk stout by Nick, one of my classmates; smooth and rich with some great vanilla and caramel notes.

The second part of beer club comes with a small fee of about $5. Tonight was an Oktoberfest theme with a great spread of Oktoberfest German food prepared by the chef school – far more food than I had anticipated. Think dinner rather than canapes.

For the beers, Hugh and Nate had put together a selection of imported Oktoberfest beer as well as the Oktoberfest 4-pack from Beau’s. Once those had been opened and presented, leftovers from the last beer club came out. And this is where I learned that I quite like Saison du Pump by Great Lakes, even though I am not a huge pumpkin beer fan.

Some of what I sampled