Craft Brew Toronto

42 beers tested in battle of the craft breweries

Friday night hundreds of brew heads packed C'est What at Front and Church for their sixth annual Spring Festival of Craft Breweries. With 42 cask beers and draughts available plus Âź pint samples for a buck it was a recipe for an entertaining, if not a little messy, night.

The event started at 5pm and anticipating it would be busy I thought I was playing it safe by arriving at 5:30. The place was already full, and we had to wait an hour and a half for a table (although standing room was available). After a solid and sufficiently greasy dinner we headed back to C'est What with stomachs ready for the long haul.

Armed with our scorecards, we dove right in - no plan, no progression from lighter ales and ciders to super heavy stouts. From a palette and tasting perspective probably not the smartest thing to do, but we had water and the beery cheery vibe of the full house to help us along.

The selection was, not surprisingly, Ontario heavy with a few great Quebec brews in the mix. I won't list all 42 beers featured, but you can see a full list here.

Stonehammer IPA

The F&M Stonehammer IPA was where I started, and while maybe just a little too bitter for my liking, the sweet banana-y layers of flavour were a really nice contrast.

I generally really like the stuff coming out of Black Oak, and their Mucho Mango cask ale was decent. It had a great mango aroma and the tropical fruit flavour from the mango was clean and natural with no sweetness in the beer itself.

Beers like the Nickel Brook Strawberry White are often labeled as "too fruity" by hardcore beer lovers - but to them I say this: enjoy it for what it is. Light, refreshing and perfect for the summer.

Another one to keep on your radar this summer is Mill Street's Lemon Tea Ale. But the best of the summer beers on offer was Unibroue's Ephemere Cassis from Quebec. It's really quite mild and very light, but has such a wonderful fruity black currant aroma and flavour. The colour was an amazing bright pinkish orange.

Church-Key's Weissenbitter had an amazing passion fruit smell to it, and the tropical highlights carried through to the flavour with no sweetness and a really pleasant bitterness.

Duggans

The crowd favourite seemed to be Duggan's Porter #8 cask. It had everything you'd expect from a porter with a full coffee aroma/flavour and a surprisingly soft finish.

It was my first time going to C'est What's spring craft beer festival, and with a really great selection of local craft beers coupled with an accessible price tag it's an event that I will definitely check out again next year.

If you didn't make it out to C'est What's event, I just stumbled on local beer blog The Bar Towel's beer event listings. There are great events happening all summer long.


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