Follow beer writer, Troy Burtch, as he explores the wonderful world of craft beer and the pubs that serve it. Great Canadian Beer is a place to come to catch up on beer news, read tasting notes, check out event listings, and for pub previews and reviews.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Toronto Festival of Beer: Day 1

As my fiance and I were headed south on Bathurst, on the 511 streetcar, the rain started coming down in a murderous fashion. My heart sank a little as the gates were opening in less than an hour and a half and vendors were still trying to get their booths set-up. Luckily the rain stopped just as we stepped out onto Garrison road and the sun started peeking through the clouds.

Because TAPS: Canada's Beer Magazine has a booth at this years event we had to wait in line to obtain exhibitor passes from the festival organizers. Well, 1 hour and lots of Bud Camp girls butting in line later, we stepped into the trailer only to be informed that the camera's were not working and we would have to go back at a later time to get the proper passes. Geez. It was interesting to hear some of the conversations going on in the group of Beer Store girls behind us. Needless to say, they don't like beer.

We headed into the grounds of the historic property (Fort York) and instantly spotted a number of small Ontario breweries near the entrance. It took us a while to make our way over to the TAPS booth as greetings and introductions were in order before the onslaught of the young brash drinkers. I wanted to grab an Auburn Ale from the fella's at Cameron's and it was then that I realized that we weren't handed any sample glasses, so we were off to obtain some. Turns out through that exhibitors don't receive glasses as they are considered to be working the entire evening. It worked out well that we had a couple of VIP tickets but that required us to head back out to the main gate and wait in line again.

Peter Bulut Jr., of Great Lakes Brewery, stopped by and told me to keep my eyes open for the new ride the brewery just purchased. Moments later I saw this crazy looking car, which turned out to be a de-commissioned hearse, complete with shooting flames, skulls and crossbones and the Devil's Pale Ale 666 logo emblazoned everywhere. Wow. The tracks are still in the back of the hearse and Great Lakes will be hooking up a cooler that they will be serving beer out of today (weather permitting). Perfect marketing tool.

Speaking of Great Lakes, they brewed two new beers just for the event: Superior IPA and a Green Tea beer. The IPA has a nice big bold hop taste with a good amount of malt backbone. I didn't know what to expect but the maltiness did surprise me a bit. The Green Tea was nice. Very refreshing as the sun beat down on us (turned out to be a lovely night) and had small hints of the tea. Very smooth, not much carbonation and served cold, it would make a great beer for downing after a run or bike ride.

My fiance has celiac disease (can't have wheat products/gluten) so we searched for a cider. Nothing. She saw a Smirnoff booth but she can't stand the stuff, she really wanted a cider. Luckily we found Trafalgar and their raspberry and blueberry mead which she could consume. We talked to owner/operator Mike Arnold who confirmed he has a new beer in the works that will surprise many drinkers.

It was good to see so many brewery people and talk about the industry and today promises to be just as fun with the rumour that the Black Oak brewery guys will be offering a special beer just for the event.

Come over to the TAPS booth and introduce yourself, I'll be there all weekend providing information about the magazine - and try Nickelbrook's Green Apple Ice Cream Float.

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