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Eat & Drink

New festival proof that craft beer has hit the mainstream

Posted by Ben Johnson / March 13, 2012

Loose Moose Craft Beer FestWhen one thinks of craft beer, one doesn't typically envision a venue that boasts nine-foot televisions, a capacity for 800 people, a glass-encased motorcycle, or live DJs; however, for about the last two weeks, The Loose Moose on Front Street has made strange bedfellows of a sports bar in the entertainment district and some of North America's best craft beers.

It's all part of the bar's 17 Days of St. Patrick Craft Beer and Food Festival, which, appropriately enough, has been running since March 1st and will culminate with St. Patrick's day celebrations this weekend. In addition to the usual contests and live music, the event has featured some serious stouts on tap — e.g. Black Oak Double Chocolate Cherry Stout, Wellington Russian Imperial Stout, and Mill Street Cobblestone Stout — and a speciality menu.

Additionally, owing to sponsorship from North American Craft, the mini-festival showcases some great beers from Ontario, and the East and West Coast. There's even some decent stuff from the U.S. For $10, patrons can get four 4oz samples of craft beers from a list that includes:

While there may not yet be much demand for craft beer in this area of Toronto that typically caters to tourists and those looking for wings, a lager, and a Leafs' game, clearly event organizers are optimistic that beer drinkers with more sophisticated palettes will find something worth coming back for (besides the glass-encased motorcycle): the four best-selling craft beers over the 17 days will receive a 90-day trial on tap at the bar. After that, the idea is that craft beer will have a permanent home at The Loose Moose as these four taps will continue to rotate craft offerings.

Photo by Ross McAuley



Rhymes with Orange / March 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm
Well kids, when the chain restaurants start carrying craft beer, you know that it's no longer cool. First it was Cara, going out there and buying up the Prime and its Bier Markt and now here's SIR Corp.

What's next? A Craft festival at Chuck E Cheese?
iSkyscraper / March 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm
Brooklyn Lager is from Brooklyn Brewery (NYC), not Dead Frog (BC). It's also not very tasty in my opinion. The Festival would be well served if they added some delicious Dogfish Head or Unibroue products.
Derek replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / March 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm
Indeed. That little mishap was actually the result of a missing bit of html code in link above. It should be correct now.
Darkhorse replying to a comment from Rhymes with Orange / March 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm
Damn it! I only drink things that are cool. What will I do now? Any degree of success for a product immediately makes it lame!
Antony / March 13, 2012 at 12:49 pm
Expensive, quality alcohol is popular among those that can afford it? This changes everything!
beer hipster replying to a comment from Rhymes with Orange / March 13, 2012 at 12:54 pm
Ya! Craft beer tastes so much better when it isn't accessible to beer drinkers!!
brad middleton / March 13, 2012 at 01:29 pm
Doesn't C'est What do a beer festival every year? How is this different? Is it because The Loose Moose is lame and C'est What is trendy? What's importent here is that people are trying and enjoying craft beers.
Rick replying to a comment from brad middleton / March 13, 2012 at 01:40 pm
C'est What is a brewpub and beer is their focus. This is notable because The Loose Moose is an entertainment district sports bar. That they are embracing craft beer where there typically isn't a market for it is progress.
Beer of Hobos / March 13, 2012 at 01:48 pm
I'll stick with my Old Milwaukee Ice thank you.
DAVE replying to a comment from Rhymes with Orange / March 13, 2012 at 01:52 pm
Rhymes with Orange?? What a clever name, I like it!

if these beers are now too cool i know an alley way where they sell real craft beer that you and only get if you have a clever nickname.
1 replying to a comment from Rhymes with Orange / March 13, 2012 at 01:52 pm
Those beers were never cool. And I don't think many if any of those are "craft" beer as much as "I can brew to" beer.
1+ / March 13, 2012 at 02:25 pm
I often wonder, when I see people disparaging a list of good craft beers, if they've actually taken the time to try any of them...I also wonder why people continue to write "to" when they mean "too."
Rhymes with Orange replying to a comment from 1 / March 13, 2012 at 02:50 pm
You probably should go back to swilling PBR, given your vast knowledge of what's craft and what's crap. Thanks very much for your input. I will be able to sleep at night knowing that you'd contributed your opinion.

With that in mind, I still think that this is a Chain Restaurant's way to get on the bandwagon. Restauranteurs are seeing Craft beer as a trend and are jumping on board to take advantage of those who want the product and of those who may be spillover customers from places like C'est Twat.
1 / March 13, 2012 at 03:12 pm
PBR? Just because I want Ontario to have better beer than those listed above? How about I go back to swilling my Westvleteren, Russian River or Founders?
newsflash replying to a comment from Rhymes with Orange / March 13, 2012 at 03:47 pm
Hey Rhymes with Orange - Cara didn't buy Prime. Prime got a better offer from Fairfax Financial Holdings, who keep their non-restaurant hands out of the way. Cara crybabied, but they eventually went away. I guess you don't read the news very often. Oh well.

Beer is always cool. People who worry where beer is sold are the clowns who aren't cool. The more craft beer that's out there the better. The less of the mainstream swill there is out there, the better.
George replying to a comment from Rhymes with Orange / March 13, 2012 at 05:00 pm
Who give's a shit if it is a chain restaurants way to get on the bandwagon. If every chain restaurant served whatever the local craft brew in the area that would be a good thing for giving support to locally owned independent businesses. The more people drinking well made, interesting, locally owned and operated craft beers the better.
seanm replying to a comment from George / March 13, 2012 at 09:25 pm
I agree with George. And inevitably food/drink cautious friends or family members will drag you to an "evil" chain restaurant, so it's nice to see craft, and more variety in general, hitting the mainstream. That said, the Moose isn't bad as far as watered-down corporate bars go. They host Toronto flair bartending competitions that are a good time, and have a great space in general.
Damon / March 15, 2012 at 11:31 am
I'm the new GM at The Loose Moose. We're undoubtedly a mainstream bar and restaurant but I don't see why craft beers should stay niche. We see ourselves as a very social and unpretentious urban local and want to provide good quality food, drink and service to our guests. I've been operating gastropubs in London, UK for the past 5 years and I'm genuinely excited about the opportunity to showcase great local beers to a wider audience here in Toronto. Beer should not be elitist! Back in the UK real ales are proving more and more popular to a younger demographic, but they still retain a slight stigma as being an old mans drink. Here and in the States craft beers are relatively new and as such they are a world apart from being your Dads choice of suds. Great IPAs, pale ales and stouts, reminicant of the beers I love back home are easily available on tap, none of the palaver of cask conditioning, and as such are easily accessible to every bar to pour on tap. We have some exciting plans for The Loose Moose, introducing craft beers is only the beginning!
Damon / March 15, 2012 at 11:43 am
Totally forgot to plug the launch party! Tonight from 5pm we have 6 breweries represented, mingling with the guests and talking up their brews. A few samples flying around and live music, The Baymen, from 7pm (it's kind of Irish, pre Paddys party to boot). Don't be a hater, come down and have some fun goddamit!
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