Toronto's Festival of Beer Quenches Diverse Thirsts

While its participants may be known to stumble on their way out, Toronto's Festival of Beer does not cater solely to a crowd with an overly-affectionate but undiscerning love for suds. In fact, during the festival, Toronto's historic fortress opens its gates to everyone from connoisseurs of the craft to those who've just had a taste of the world beyond Labatt's and loved it.

The festival is perhaps best enjoyed by those who are excited by a wide sampling of new tastes - especially when those tastes are ordinarily hard-to-find, unavailable, or otherwise out of reach. This being my natural inclination, I carefully navigated my way through the tents, ignoring anything I've already tried, and thrusting my glass forward at those obscure beers I've either been dying to try or never heard of.

As expected, the multitude of diverse vendors poured me a deeply satisfying (not to mention thirst-quenching) experience.

Take the Granite Brewery, for example. I was enthralled with their sampling options (particularly the Summer Ale) which, like all of their beers, are available only at the Granite Brewery and Restaurant. I was delighted to not only score these yummy samples, but also to add another restaurant to my lengthy list of places to try.

(For those inspired by the munchies, there was also a nice selection of food vendors, too, including bbq stands, oyster shuckers, and a tent occupied by Utopia.)

Unfortunately, access to this brilliant buffet doesn't come cheap ($20 in advance; $25 at the door), but once inside, you'd usually get a minimum of 4oz for each one-dollar ticket (think over two pints for ten bucks). Plus, after a few samples, price hardly seems to matter.

A final tip for future visitors: veteran TO festival-attendees know that skipping Saturday (always the busiest day of an event) is key to avoiding extra-long line ups. Observing this trick of the trade, I ventured into Fort York on Sunday, and was pleased to find a full but not overflowing crowd.

I walked away (in a reasonably straight line) with a diversified palate, a new list of beers to pick up at the LCBO, and a serious jonesing for chicken wings.

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