Top picks at Toronto Beer Week 2013 by day of the week
Toronto Beer Week is here. As you've probably guessed, this is an event largely focused on the consumption of everyone's favourite adult beverage. As with last year and each consecutive year, the event has grown considerably in scope and now features a slew of events at over 55 venues across the entire city pouring beer from over 30 brewers.
So, with an eye to making the most of your Toronto Beer Week, I've selected one event for every night of the week, opting for those with the best beer selection on hand, as well as a backup event in a different neighbourhood just in case.
Thursday September 12th
The Premium Beer Experience at The Berkeley Church
Even though it doesn't actually take place during TBW, this event might be my pick for one of the more interesting beer events of the summer. This one promises a renaissance of the modern day beer festival and boasts that all the brewers involved will be brewing something unique specifically for the event. Plus, it's happening at Berkeley Church, which is a fantastic and underused venue when it comes to events like this. And when's the last time you went to church?
Where: Berkeley Church, 315 Queen St East
How much: Tickets are $17 and sample tickets will be $1 each.
Back up plan: None. There are no other Thursday events.
Friday September 13th
C'est What's 25th Annual Festival Of Craft Breweries
In case the 25 years nod wasn't an indicator, you should know C'est What does beer right. For this two-day event they'll tap some Belgian-style quads in honour of the fourth edition of Toronto Beer Week (get it? Quad? Four? Wordplay!) and will feature four dozen (four dozen!) other beer choices each night, including fourteen cask selections.
Where: C'est What 67 Front St East
How much: No admission charge and most samples are $1 each.
Back up plan: There's a Pajama Party at Sauce on the Danforth from 3:00pm-1:15am. Scary movies, beer from Wellington Brewery, Cameron's Brewing Co. & Great Lakes Brewery, and beer people in their night time apparel. Fun!
Saturday September 14th
Zwanze Day/Funk Night at barVolo
Chances are you didn't get tickets to the once-a-year, only-happening-in-three-Canadian-bars, global beer event that is "Zwanze Day" given that all of the event's 120 tickets sold out in less than two minutes this year, but that doesn't mean you can't head to Volo later (after 7:00pm) to enjoy Funk Night (and maybe suck spilled Zwanze out of someone's flannel?). It's a selection of over 30 Ontario and Quebec sour and funky beers paired with loud funk music.
Where: barVolo 587 Yonge Street
How Much: $5 admission
Back up plan: If sour beer isn't your thing, hit up the Hoppin' The Danforth PUB CRAWL!! from 3:00pm - 8:30pm where Troy Burtch of Great Lakes Brewery, Mark Murphy of Left Field Brewery, and Jerry Coburn of Beau's All Natural Brewing Co. will cruise The Wren (1382 Danforth) @ 3pm, Sauce on the Danforth (1376 Danforth) @ 3:45pm, Morgans on the Danforth (1282 Danforth) @ 4:30pm, The Only Cafe (972 Danforth) @ 5:30pm, The Court Jester Pub (609 Danforth) @ 6:30, Brass Taps Pizza Pub (493 Danforth) @ 7:30pm. Expect beer from all three brewers, good-natured camaraderie from Troy, baseball talk from Mark, and I don't know Jerry at all so I guess just stay away from him.
Sunday September 15th
Brewer's Backyard "Septembière" at Evergreen Brick Works
Toronto's own answer to a beer garden will welcome Quebec brewers for the first time at the Brick Works from 12:00pm-4:00 pm. Check out a fantastic lineup of beers that will include selections from Le Trou Du Diable, Dieu Du Ciel!, Les Trois Mousquetaires, Les Trois Mousquetaires, Dunham, Hopfenstark, and Charlevoix. Not to mention food from Jamie Kennedy Kitchen and Organic Crepes. Zut alors! Incroyable!
Where: Evergreen Brick Works 550 Bayview Avenue
How Much: Free admission, pay per beer
Back up plan: If you hate the French, first of all, you're a racist, second of all, you can hide from them in the Junction. Indie Alehouse is hosting a Cask Beer Feature from 12:00pm-9:00 pm where they'll offer sample flights and half pints of 8-10 Cask Ales and will serve a full English roast dinner after 3:00pm.
Monday September 16th
The 1st Annual Beer Cocktail Showdown at Beer Academy
From 6:30pm-8:30 pm The Beer Academy will host their first annual Beer Cocktail Showdown where "some of Toronto's hottest Bartenders will go head to head trying to create the greatest beer cocktail." You help pick the winner and the champion beverage will be served Wednesday at the Beer Bistro during the Golden Tap Awards (see below).
Where: The Beer Academy 75 Victoria Street
How much: Tickets are $10.00 in advance and $12.00 at the door and they get you seven drink tokens.
Backup Plan / INSIDER PICK: While it's not being advertised a lot (yet), rumour has it that the good folks at Great Lakes Brewery will be taking over part of The Loose Moose on Monday for a huge party to celebrate being named Canadian Brewing Awards' 2013 Brewery of the Year. If you know the folks (and beers) from GLB at all, you know this is destined to be a good time. Details are scant, but if you head to the Loose Moose and look for Mike Lackey's beard you'll find the party.
Tuesday September 17th
The Homebrew Tap Takeover at Indie Alehouse
A rarity when it comes to beer events, the folks at Indie will be handing over their tap lines to homebrewers. There will be twelve different homemade beers available in sample sizes and flights and featuring beer makers who've won recent homebrewing awards. Get there early before the beer runs dry and/or the homebrewers scamper back to their damp basements and garages.
Where: Indie Alehouse 2876 Dundas Street West
How much : Pay per beer.
Back up plan: From 5pm-11:45pm, Great Lakes Brewery and Sawdust City Brewery takeover The Wren, the Danforth's coziest little cafe-cum-craft beer bar.
Both brewers make great beer, but the real reason to go is that they collaborated on a beer and settled on the enticing-but-vaguely-threatening name "Smash Ass." Mmm.
Wednesday September 18th
The 11th Annual Golden Tap Awards at beerbistro
Billing itself as the "first democratically-voted beer awards in Ontario," the gala event for the 11th Golden Tap Awards will feature accolades awarded to breweries, bars and beers as selected by the public. There will also be an all-Ontario craft beer lineup and, one can assume, a shit ton of beards.
Where: beer bistro 18 King St East
How much: Free admission, but there is a $25 VIP tasting experience and beer-pairing available.
Back up plan: If awards ceremonies aren't your thing, head to the ultimate $25 sausage fest that is the 2nd Annual WVRST Craft Invitational. 12 breweries are creating a special brew to pair with a WVRST sausage and attendees will vote to pick a winner (I wanted to write wiener so bad...)
Thursday September 19th
Book release and movie screening at The Rhino
Toronto's own Stephen Beaumont, a leading authority on all things beer, has co-written The Pocket Beer Guide with UK-based beer expert Tim Webb. On Thursday he'll be signing copies of the book following a screening of Beer Hunter, a documentary on Michael Jackson. It's the excuse you've been looking for to read a book and you can find out just what the guy who wrote Thriller has to do with beer (It's a different Michael Jackson, you idiot).
Where: The Rhino 1249 Queen Street West
How much: $20.00, which includes two beers brewed just for the occasion and some food, and proceeds from the event will be donated to Parkinson's research.
Back up plan: Class up your drinking at Habits Gastropub by pairing pints with arias, duos and trios at HOPERA: an evening of local craft beer and song, where you'll hear opera specially chosen to accompany certain beers and the reasons they were chosen.
Friday September 20th
Brewmaster's Dinner at Mill Street Brew Pub
If you've never attended a Mill Street Brewmaster's dinner, you're missing out. In addition to a four-course dinner well paired with a series of great Mill Street beers, there's usually a beer surprise or two and the always-informative Joel Manning will be there to teach you a thing or two about the beverages you're enjoying.
Where: Mill Street Brew Pub 21 Tank House Lane
How much: $59.99
Back up plan: Because I like the idea of pairing beer with sharp carving utensils, why not check out Great Lakes Brewery's Pumpkin Carving Contest at Against the Grain? There will be cask-conditioned Pumpkin Ale and probably a flesh wound or two.
Saturday September 21st.
The 3rd Annual Official Toronto Beer Week Pub Crawl
Hit the town Saturday night as Toronto Beer Week comes to a close. Things kick off at Clinton's at 5:30, then head to Victory Cafe (7pm), Cloak and Dagger (8:30pm), and shut 'er down at Stout Irish Pub at 10pm. And, because they're sponsoring this years Pub Crawl, you'll enjoy 20% of Spearhead beverages along the way (given that they'll be launching their new Big Kahuna Imperial IPA this week, you can probably assume you'll find a pint or two of that new brew along the way, too).
Where: Things start at Clinton's 693 Bloor Street West
How much: Free
Toronto Beer Week runs from September 13-21st.