Cask Days Beer Toronto

Cask Days 2011 brings "real ale" to Hart House

Now entering its seventh year, Cask Days, the annual celebration of cask-ale hosted by Bar Volo, will change venues for the first time in order to better accommodate the hordes of thirsty beer drinkers looking to get their hands on the best that local brewers have to offer. With over 50 casks on offer at Sunday's main event at the Hart House quad, there's something for pretty much any palate, from the hoppy to the malty.

Cask-conditioned ale gets the tag "real ale" on account of that fact that it's a bit of a throwback as far as brewing practice goes. Cask ales are neither pasteurized nor filtered, and their carbonation levels are maintained via a secondary fermentation within the cask rather than the addition of nitrogen or carbon dioxide. As such, when a cask is tapped, there's a short period in which the beer can be enjoyed, hence the name "cask days."

In addition to the purist-nature of the brewing method, fans of local brews will be happy to know that there's lots on offer from Ontario, and that the vast majority of selections derive from Canadian microbreweries. Scanning the list of confirmed beers, it's actually difficult to pick out the most exciting ones to try (it's the kid in a candy store problem), but thankfully the sample sizes allow you to try out a variety of ales without getting so boozed up that your palate is shot.

Also worth noting is that the festival is broken into afternoon and evening sessions ($35 and $30) respectively, of which prospective attendees will want to choose one (the same beers are on offer at both). The admission fee gets you five sample beer tickets, and from there it's cash-only — so come prepared. Those interested in the art of cask brewing will also want to check out one of the many seminars running at Bar Volo the day before the main event.

For more information about Cask Days 2011, check out the event blog.

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