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Eat & Drink

Winter beers shine at the Rhino's new beer festival

Posted by Ben Johnson / February 5, 2013

Rhino Winter Beer FestI know it's not particularly Canadian of me to say this, but I hate winter. The cold, the slush, the shorter days--there's virtually nothing I like about Canadian winters, with one possible exception: winter beers.

Yes, while skating in the park and snowball fights are not my thing, strong, rich, and dark Canadian beers certainly are. That's why this coming weekend you'll find me at the 1st Annual Rhino Winter Beer Festival.

Taking place on Sunday, February 10 at The Rhino Restaurant & Bar, the event will feature over 20 Ontario breweries pouring an excellent list of beers with an emphasis on stouts, barely wines, and other potent offerings to help numb the pain of this grey and bitter season.

The unique event features three admission options: general admission is free and starts at 1pm; regular tickets cost $20, get you in the door at noon, and come with five sample tickets and a souvenir glass; and for the more serious drinkers, a $40 VIP admission gets you in the door at 11am and includes not just 10 sample tickets and a souvenir glass, but also a buffet breakfast to help you line your stomach before you spend the day filling it with delicious beer.

Greg Clow, creator of the website Canadian Beer News, helped organize the event in order to bring some much needed craft beer-related socializing to the colder months. "People tend to associate beer festivals with warmer weather, which makes sense for outdoor events," he says. "But beer drinkers--and craft beer drinkers in particular--don't stop drinking beer during the winter, so there's no reason the festivals have to stop."

As for what's on tap, even Clow isn't 100% certain. "Some of the breweries are playing things close to their chest and haven't told me what they'll be bringing," he says. "But I know that Beau's will be bringing a few of their wintry one-offs, like Matt's Sleepytime Belgian Imperial Stout and Burnt Rock Vanilla Porter, and both Spearhead and The Beer Academy are planning to use the event to launch their Belgian Stout and Milk Chocolate Stout, respectively."

"It's also looking pretty likely that Sawdust City will have a barrel-aged version of their Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus Imperial Stout, and gluten-free brewery Snowman will be offering Rambam Belgian Quad and Chocspresso Imperial Stout."

And in case the name "Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus" wasn't enough to whet your appetite, the complete list of brewers involved includes Amsterdam Brewery, Beau's All Natural Brewing Company, The Beer Academy, Bellwoods Brewery, Black Oak Brewing Co., Cameron's Brewing Co., Cheshire Valley Brewing, Church Key Brewing, F&M Brewery, Grand River Brewing, Granite Brewery, Great Lakes Brewery, Hogtown Brewing, Indie Ale House Brewing Co., Lake of Bays, MacLean's Ales, Mill Street Brewery, Nickel Brook Brewery, Sawdust City Brewing Co., Silversmith Brewing, Snowman Brewing Co., and Spearhead Brewery.

Tickets for all levels of admission are available online and, given recent shenanigans at The Rhino, the event organizers have opted to donate a portion of the proceeds to the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto.

For more information, you can check out the event's Facebook page.



rhinofan / February 5, 2013 at 08:33 am
we love to go there, but I'm REALLY hoping they get a new menu sometime soon. it's pretty limited. i needs some FOODS to go with the beer!
Greg Clow / February 5, 2013 at 09:45 am
Thanks for the coverage, Ben. Just a couple of updates since we spoke:

- Spearhead informed us yesterday that they unfortunately won't be able to bring their new Belgian Stout after all, as it won't be ready in time. But their Moroccan Brown and Hawaiian Pale will both be available.

- As of yesterday, VIP tickets are sold out. There are still a fair number of regular tickets yet, but I expect they'll sell out before the weekend.
Simon / February 5, 2013 at 11:56 am
After that dispicable racist display last week that the staff and management at Rhino did nothing to stop, I refuse to patronise this hole. It's a great idea but it needs a different venue.
gab replying to a comment from Simon / February 5, 2013 at 12:11 pm
Uhh yeah. You won't be missed my friend. Carry on everyone.
sheila / February 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm
i feel like this bar might need to make some statement about their weird racist party the other week. nothing extreme, just a statement?
Rick / February 5, 2013 at 01:25 pm
They didn't hold a racist party; ignorant patrons came into their bar. The article above states that proceeds from the event will be going to the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto--a gesture they've opted to make despite not being responsible for the customers' behaviour. I think we can all move on now, please.
Rob replying to a comment from sheila / February 5, 2013 at 01:35 pm
"Hey, this one time a bunch of people who may or may not be racists (but we're not sure) had a bunch of drinks here, just putting that out there, thought you should know before you pass judgment on my establishment and write fake reviews for it and basically banish me to hell"

Actually, for lulz, I'd like to see something like that.
Hates the rhino / February 5, 2013 at 01:36 pm
I have to wonder if anyone complaining about the debateably racist party has every been to the Rhino.
That hardly offends me compared to the fact that they typically only have 2 or three beers on tap, while the other ~20 taps are somehow broken or empty.
The beer list is more or less the only appeal to this place, and it is a damn lie!
Mike L / February 5, 2013 at 03:36 pm
Snowman's going to be there?!?! Awesome! Can't wait to try their stuff! Really cool that they're doing Rambam...heard great things about it! ^celiac^
gary g / February 5, 2013 at 06:38 pm
Weird that this is happening at the rhino at all, nothing to do with recent "racist" displays there, but because their beer is notoriously bad. They have a great patio which is why it's a nice hangout spot in summer, but their draft stuff is probably the worst in Toronto, maybe even the worst I've tried in Ontario. So if this is another organisation running this beer fest event at the Rhino I hope they are bringing their own equipment and request the Rhino schedule their A-list staff (their surprisingly ineffective staff is the other thing the Rhino is notorious for). Anyway, I hope they are able to pull this off- sounds like a really interesting idea and much needed in the dead of winter!
Opensource1111 / February 6, 2013 at 01:55 am
Lets move on beyond the whole stupid party thing, please. Those trying to keep the racist allegation alive are just boring and annoying the rest if us. You don't want to go this place? Fine, don't. Now shut up and keep your opinions to yourself, because the rest of us really just don't care.
Dan replying to a comment from sheila / February 6, 2013 at 02:51 pm
The Rhino DID make a statement about the incident. Very quickly. It's on their web page.
Jeff Hall / February 6, 2013 at 08:33 pm
Holy Moly, folks - I'm looking forward to drinking beer there!!!
WinterGuy / February 9, 2013 at 09:47 am
The Brewery Market has been celebrating winter beers and even drinking outside, for two years now. Nice to see the winter festival trend catching on!
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