Thursday, October 27, 2016Light Rain 6°C
Eat & Drink

Roundhouse Craft Beer Fest might be Toronto's best

Posted by Ben Johnson / August 8, 2013

Roundhouse Craft Beer FestivalBecause the Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival is only in its second year, it might be a little early to call it the city's best beer festival, but if this year's event, held Saturday August 10 and Sunday August 11, is anything like last year's, it's a title that the event will certainly have rights to soon.

At first glance, the event doesn't seem all that different from any number of summer beer events in the city: craft beer, samples, food trucks, etc.; however, subtle differences have made this event a fast favourite for beer folks in the know.

First, there's the location. Held at Roundhouse Park just outside of — duh — the Roundhouse that houses Steam Whistle brewery, the Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival embraces one of the best parts about being at an outdoor beer festival, namely the fact that you're outside. For this event, picnic blankets are welcome and people are encouraged to sit around and relax, as opposed to queuing up in massive lines for a sample of beer or fighting for a lone picnic table — there's grass!

Then of course there's the beer.

Every beer poured at the Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival will be a member of the Ontario Craft Brewers. For me, it's an added bonus to attend an event that I know benefits and promotes local craft breweries as opposed to putting a little more money in the already full pockets of internationally owned, billion-dollar companies who just brew easy-to-drink-lagers. The Roundhouse Festival proudly boasts beer of "independent ownership, smaller batches, artisanal styles, and quality ingredients, [that's] all-natural and undiluted."

I'm not crying; it's just dusty in here.

Among the local brewers present will be Amsterdam Brewery, Beau's All Natural Brewing, Black Oak Brewing, Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery, Great Lakes Brewery, King Brewery, Lake of Bays Brewing, Left Field Brewery, Mill St. Brewery, Neustadt Springs Brewery, Nickel Brook Brewing, Steam Whistle, and Wellington Brewery.

And yes, the food trucks are here too. There will be eats from The Rome 'N Chariot, Dobro Jesti, Localista, Hogtown Smoke, Dirty South Truck, Canuck Pizza Truck, The Food Dudes, and Pizza Settecento

But it's not just about the beer (OK, it mostly is, but let's pretend). The Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival is also a fundraising event. In fact, proceeds go to support the Toronto Railway Heritage Museum, which serves to promote the history of train travel in the city. So they got that going for them, which is nice.

Also, the festival has a token system that seems less likely to promote drunkenness than some other festivals. Sample tokens are sold in batches of five so you won't feel compelled to get wasted and, even better, the event organizers will buy back any unused tokens at the end of the festival so no one will be chugging beer at the end of the day in an effort to get their money's worth.

(FYI, what you get for a token may vary. Brewers are allowed to determine for themselves how much they will charge for samples. Steam Whistle, for example, will charge one token for half a seven-ounce glass or two tokens for a full sample).

Lastly, and possibly most importantly, is the cost.

The Roundhouse Craft Beer festival costs a measly $10 to get in (provided you buy your tickets in advance online--it's $15 at the door) and drink samples tickets are just $1.

And that's not even the best part: the $10 entrance fee gets you your sampling glass and that glass acts as your ticket to the event. If you come back with your glass on Sunday, you don't need to pay again, meaning for $10 you can spend Saturday from noon-7pm AND Sunday from noon-7pm in the park drinking Ontario craft beer.

You see why I like this event?

Admittedly, part of the reason I like the Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival is also that last year's event was really laid back. It's conceivable that, as the event grows, so too will the amount of attendees and the laid-back vibe might vanish. I guess beer fans will just have to hope that no well-read Toronto-based websites preview the Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival so that it can remain under the radar for a while.

Oh, wait.

Ben Johnson also writes about beer over on Ben's Beer Blog.

Photo by Stephen Gardiner in the blogTO Flickr pool.



Goatdiesel / August 8, 2013 at 02:48 pm
+10 points for the Caddyshack reference
Danielle / August 8, 2013 at 02:51 pm
The only complaint I had from last year was that the only food was two very similar and unfortunately, unappetizing food trucks. Hopefully they've improved it this year.
lister / August 8, 2013 at 02:59 pm
Three beer fests we go to every year with no hesitation:

1) Cask Days
2) C'est What Summer & Fall fests (during OCB and Toronto Beer weeks)

Everything else is a maybe depending on what beers are there, price and location. (There's only so much $$$ to spread around.)

We went to last years Roundhouse event and thought it was okay. A few interesting new beers. The weather was crappy so some of the food trucks declined to show. Boo to them!

Based off last year it really is a good event for craft beer newbies.
Craft Beer Girl / August 8, 2013 at 03:09 pm
Hey Danielle,

There will be more food trucks this year- don't fear!
" The Rome 'N Chariot, Dobro Jesti, Localista, Hogtown Smoke, Dirty South Truck, Canuck Pizza Truck, The Food Dudes, and Pizza Settecento" just to name a few.

Alison / August 8, 2013 at 03:22 pm
....and bands...can't forget the music!
The Honeyrunners are playing!
Fob Rord / August 8, 2013 at 06:07 pm
Admittedly, I've never been to one of these, but how can standing around in a field with a bunch of yahoos drinking beer be more fun than drinking beer with friends in your favourite watering hole? I just don't get it.
Jen W / August 8, 2013 at 09:52 pm
Wait, so last weekend I was at George Street fest in St John's sampling craft beers like Quidi Vidi and Yellowbelly and this weekend I get to do it again practically in my back yard?? A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do...
lister replying to a comment from Fob Rord / August 9, 2013 at 08:37 am
Easy: one-offs and new beers.

These festivals frequently have beers you can't get at the LCBO or at bars.
Sarah B. / August 9, 2013 at 02:27 pm
Advanced tickets are sold out! Does this mean the event is sold out or can tickets be bought at the door?
Ben replying to a comment from Sarah B. / August 9, 2013 at 02:35 pm
Hi Sarah,

I contacted the event organizers when I saw your comment, and they already answered me. You'll be able to buy your ticket at the door.

How's that for speedy service?
Elje / August 10, 2013 at 09:38 pm
Does anyone know if the food trucks are pricey? Will there be some free samples?
sucked / August 12, 2013 at 11:04 am
It sucked. Too crowded and too expensive. I won't go again next year.

Me and 3 friends went. We paid 4 x $15 for 4 tasting glasses and then paid between $1-$2 per sample. I think between the 4 of us we had around 20 samples.

If it wasn't crowded and full of frat bros and even a bachelor party it would have been alright. But because of the crazy lines (definitely NOT depicted in the picture on this article BlogTO) and really loud, really mediocre music, the vibe just kind of sucked in the way only an event like this held in Toronto can suck. The longest line was for Amsterdam brewery LOL? Real adventurous people.

Next year at this time for (4 x $15) + $20 = $80, me and my 3 friends will go to the LCBO and get $80 worth of Ontario craft beers we hadn't tried before and sit in one of our back yards and get piss drunk on our own terms.
miumiu / August 16, 2013 at 05:53 am
レディス 財布
カード 財布 / August 16, 2013 at 05:53 am
財布 サイフ
Other Cities: Montreal