Rhino Winter Beer Fest

Winter beers shine at the Rhino's new beer festival

I know it's not particularly Canadian of me to say this, but I hate winter. The cold, the slush, the shorter days--there's virtually nothing I like about Canadian winters, with one possible exception: winter beers.

Yes, while skating in the park and snowball fights are not my thing, strong, rich, and dark Canadian beers certainly are. That's why this coming weekend you'll find me at the 1st Annual Rhino Winter Beer Festival.

Taking place on Sunday, February 10 at The Rhino Restaurant & Bar, the event will feature over 20 Ontario breweries pouring an excellent list of beers with an emphasis on stouts, barely wines, and other potent offerings to help numb the pain of this grey and bitter season.

The unique event features three admission options: general admission is free and starts at 1pm; regular tickets cost $20, get you in the door at noon, and come with five sample tickets and a souvenir glass; and for the more serious drinkers, a $40 VIP admission gets you in the door at 11am and includes not just 10 sample tickets and a souvenir glass, but also a buffet breakfast to help you line your stomach before you spend the day filling it with delicious beer.

Greg Clow, creator of the website Canadian Beer News, helped organize the event in order to bring some much needed craft beer-related socializing to the colder months. "People tend to associate beer festivals with warmer weather, which makes sense for outdoor events," he says. "But beer drinkers--and craft beer drinkers in particular--don't stop drinking beer during the winter, so there's no reason the festivals have to stop."

As for what's on tap, even Clow isn't 100% certain. "Some of the breweries are playing things close to their chest and haven't told me what they'll be bringing," he says. "But I know that Beau's will be bringing a few of their wintry one-offs, like Matt's Sleepytime Belgian Imperial Stout and Burnt Rock Vanilla Porter, and both Spearhead and The Beer Academy are planning to use the event to launch their Belgian Stout and Milk Chocolate Stout, respectively."

"It's also looking pretty likely that Sawdust City will have a barrel-aged version of their Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus Imperial Stout, and gluten-free brewery Snowman will be offering Rambam Belgian Quad and Chocspresso Imperial Stout."

And in case the name "Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus" wasn't enough to whet your appetite, the complete list of brewers involved includes Amsterdam Brewery, Beau's All Natural Brewing Company, The Beer Academy, Bellwoods Brewery, Black Oak Brewing Co., Cameron's Brewing Co., Cheshire Valley Brewing, Church Key Brewing, F&M Brewery, Grand River Brewing, Granite Brewery, Great Lakes Brewery, Hogtown Brewing, Indie Ale House Brewing Co., Lake of Bays, MacLean's Ales, Mill Street Brewery, Nickel Brook Brewery, Sawdust City Brewing Co., Silversmith Brewing, Snowman Brewing Co., and Spearhead Brewery.

Tickets for all levels of admission are available online and, given recent shenanigans at The Rhino, the event organizers have opted to donate a portion of the proceeds to the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto.

For more information, you can check out the event's Facebook page.

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