The top 10 spring beer events in Toronto for 2014
While it may not seem like it, today is the first day of spring. And if the face-cracking wind and sporadic flurries have you confused, there's one sure sign that the weather is about to turn: the announcement of spring beer events in Toronto.
Sure, it's not quite the full-on tank-tops-and-plastic-cups-every-other-weekend bliss of summer beer festival season, but the events are starting to pop up on the radar and that can only mean that the end of winter is approaching. So here are a handful of beer events to get you ready for summer. Think of it as spring training for your liver.
Cameron's Blues Cask Night
Cask ale and blues music seems like a good pairing to me. The folks at Cameron's Brewing in Oakville will bring the two together for a night of fun on March 27th with Soulshaker blues band and food from Bestia food truck. Tickets are $25 at the door and $20 in advance with a discount for students.
Toronto's Festival of Beer Spring Sessions
Not content to wait until summer for Toronto's biggest beer event, the folks behind Toronto's Festival of Beer opted to give us a little teaser this spring. Featuring roughly 20 brewers, including Toronto's own Left Field Brewery, Mill Street, Steam Whistle, and Great Lakes and even our newest cider producer, Brickworks Ciderhouse, the event offers two days of beverage-drinking revelry at the Evergreen Brick Works on March 28 and March 29 (just before this posting, the Saturday Session of the event sold out). Entrance is $30 and includes five sample tickets and a mug.
If you've ever been to a "networking" event, you're probably already aware of the concept's main flaw: the lack of craft beer. The organizers behind "Beerworking" have seen to the problem by combining the chance to meet new people in a speed-networking setting while simultaneously learning about beer. Events are being held at Project Owl on April 2, April 16, May 14, and May 28 and will feature beer from Black Oak Brewery, Wellington Brewery, Mill Street Brewery, and Lake of Bays Brewery, respectively. Full disclosure: While three of the events are being led by Certified Cicerone Crystal Luxmore, the first, on April 2, will be led by this writer.
Eggs and Kegs with Great Lakes and Duke's Refresher
For possibly the city's first brunch-themed mini beer festival, the earlyish-risers at GLB are bringing a lineup of unique beers to Dukes Refresher from noon to 4pm on March 30th. Among the beer goodness on hand to accompany your eggs will be their Long Dong Pilsner, their new THRUST! IPA, Sweet Zombie Jesus Peanut Butter Stout, an Ouzo Soaked Liquorice Baltic Porter, a cask version of My Bitter Wife, and even a collaborative beer brewed with help from Dukes' staff called Hindsight Breakfast Stout. You'll never look at brunch the same way again.
The Brewer's Backyard on Good Friday and Victoria Day
Having seen a great deal of success holding his "Brewer's Backyard" events on long weekends, Toronto beer guy Cass Enright has expanded his family-friendly beer series to include five dates in 2014, including Good Friday (April 18) and Victoria Day (May 19). Learn about, try, and meet the people behind the best beer Ontario has to offer, paired with local food vendors in the relaxed setting of the Evergreen Brick Works. The events are all ages, family friendly, and, best of all, admission is free.
Society of Beer Drinking Ladies Bevy #4
Having sold out in just eight hours, the SOBDL's third event on March 28th is now only open to non-ticket-holding women (and men) after midnight at the as-yet-undisclosed-location. But not to worry, the ladies tell me that Bevy #4 is already in the works and based on the response they've received for their first two events, you can bet it will be a popular event. Taking place April 25th, tickets will go on sale in mid April and, as the organizers tell me, signing up for their mailing list is the best way to make sure you're first in line for tickets.
Ontario Brewing Awards
On April 3, The Gladstone hotel will once again play host to the Ontario Brewing Awards, the event where industry folks gather to recognize the achievements of the province's brewers in 29 style-based categories. Find out who will take home gold in categories lick Best German Style Wheat Beer and Best Honey or Maple Beer! It's the one awards gala where you can bet no one cares who anyone is wearing.
Featuring an exclusive line-up of one-off beers and unique collaborations, the third installment of Toronto's Beer 4 Boobs will feature creations by female brewers from Amsterdam, Black Oak, Mill Street, The Ship, Bellwoods, 5 Paddles, Niagara College, Wellington, Cheshire Valley, and The Granite. The event will be held on April 27th at Bellwoods Brewery and the $25 ticket (cash at the door) will include a sample ticket and a commemorative glass. Proceeds from the event will be donated to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre's PYNK program, the first of its kind in Canada to address the special clinical, psychological, research, and educational needs of younger women with breast cancer.
The Session Craft Beer Festival
The close of Ontario Craft Beer week and something like the official start of summer for beer drinkers, Session this year is even bigger than ever before. Taking place June 13 and 14 at the ridonkulously high profile location of Yonge and Dundas square, this year's festivities include live music, food, and over 100 craft beers, including 30 made just for the event in collaborations between craft brewers and artists for "Collaboration Nation" (including, ahem, a hotly anticipated collaboration between this writer and Canadian Brewery of the Year, Great Lakes). Tickets tickets will cost $39.50 and this includes your glass and five tasting tokens.
Ontario Craft Beer Week
The fifth annual tribute to Ontario's independent brewers takes place June 15-21 and features over 30 Ontario Craft Breweries pouring local brew at 150 events in over 50 different Ontario communities. Festivities will include food and beer collaborations, tap takeovers, tasting events, brewery tours, cooking demonstrations, beer dinners, contests and more. The week prior to the festival, we'll feature a comprehensive guide to the events occurring right here in Toronto during the week.
Photo by Jesse Milns