Ontario Craft Beer Week

The top 10 events at Ontario Craft Beer Week 2014

Ontario Craft Beer Week kicks off on Saturday June 14th for the fifth annual tribute to the great beers that this province has to offer with a bevvy of events across Ontario featuring beers made by the OCB's member breweries. There are over 200 events occurring in over 40 towns and a large chunk of them are occurring right here in Toronto, the centre of the universe.

While I love that the week offers the OCB a chance to showcase the great beverages being made by its members (and I also love the excuse to drink every night for seven days guilt-free), ironically I often find OCB Week is marred by simply offering too much to do. That is, with so many beer and food pairings, brewmaster's dinners, pub crawls, brewer collaborations, celebrations of cask ales and one-offs and so very many Mill Street flights, it's tough to know just what to do each night and the impending FOMO is almost too much for a beer geek to handle.

But fear not, fellow intrepid alcohol enthusiasts, I've whittled the overwhelming list of Toronto events down to just one event per evening so that you may make the most of your Ontario Craft Beer Week.

Saturday June 14

The Session Craft Beer Festival
Celebratingg its fifth year, The Session seems to have become one of the bigger draws of OCB Week, and it's grandiose venue this year (Yonge and Dundas Square!) have some speculating that this beer lover's event may have jumped the shark this year. Regardless, it's hard to argue with a lineup of 100+ craft beers, including 30 collaboration beers vying for top prize in Collaboration Nation (notably one hotly anticipated Dill Hole IPA). Tickets are $39.50 + tax and include your glass and 5 tasting tokens.

Sunday June 15

Beach BBQ & Brews
Running all weekend, this family-friendly event at Woodbine Park boasts a handful of BBQ competitions and beer from Kensington Brewing Company, Flying Monkeys, Left Field Brewery, Great Lakes Brewery, Beau's, and Mill Street, plus live music and a kids area complete with rides. Bonus: Admission is free.

Monday June 16

Beau's Tap Takeover at The Hogtown Pub and Oysters
On Monday, Vankleek Hill's Beau's All-Natural Brewing will take over 14 taps at the Little Italy local. Beers will include Festivale, B-Side Brewing's Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale and more plus Beau's staffers will be on hand for giveaways.

Tuesday June 17

Indie Alehouse's IPA Night
While it isn't an OCB Week event since it takes place at non-member brewery Indie Alehouse, this has to go on the list because it's most certainly the best beer event happening on Tuesday (and for this unabashed hop-addict writer, maybe the whole week). For $85, Indie Will be offering a three course dinner paired with IPAs from Ontario craft brewers Amsterdam, Great Lakes, Nickel Brook, Sawdust City and Indie Alehouse. With meals prepared by a selection of chefs who've participated in previous Indie collab dinners, this one will be good--official event status be damned.

Wednesday June 18

Guided tasting of HIGH ABV by Wellington Brewery
Visit Baker Street Station to sample and discuss the finer points of beer with higher alcohol content in a discussion led by Wellington Brewery's Brewmaster Marvin Dyck. Sip Russian Imperial Stouts, Barley Wines, Imperial IPAs, and Belgian Tripels and Quads and chat about cellaring and barrel-aging while you enjoy cheese and charcuterie pairings picked by the chefs at Baker Street Station. $25

Thursday June 19

The Beer Lovers Brewmasters Dinner - the Beer Hall at Mill Street Brew
Not to be rude, but if you're a beer fan and you live in a Toronto and you've never been to one of Mill Street's brewmasters dinner, what's your problem, dummie? Because the Mill Streeters do a beer and food pairing evening right. Pony up the $59.99 plus tax and tip for a five course dinner at the Beer Hall paired with five Mill Street beers and see what the fuss is all about.

Friday June 20

Summer Nights in the City
Hit up C'est What as brewers from northern Ontario descend on Hogtown to bring a bit of the summer to the City. Lake of Bays Brewery, Sawdust City, Side Launch and Northwinds will each be bringing their choice for their best beer for a hot summer night.

Saturday June 21
The Thirsty Games
Given that Session has become a massive, right-smack-in-the-middle-of-downtown, fairly expensive event that will open OCB Week this year, there is perhaps room for a new industry-centred, good-natured piss up to close out the festivities. In its second year, The Thirsty Games, held at An Sibin Pub, might just be the smart bet to nab that important title. Featuring reps from various breweries competing at hourly-run tasks that should get more complicated as the night wears on, the evening will offer an outdoor barbecue and craft beer samples for spectators and, while I'd never encourage irresponsible alcohol consumption, a chance for some of the hard-working brewery folks to end their OCB Week by getting a little sloppy (and then taking part in ridiculous, endurance-testing events while we watch!).

Also worth noting

Railway City Beer KEG SWAP at Steam Whistle Brewing
Throughout the week, Steam Whistle Brewery will host a keg swap with St. Thomas' Railway City Brewing, meaning a feature keg from Railway City will be available at Steam Whistle Brewing during their regular hours and you'll get a chance to try beer from the place where Jumbo the elephant was killed by a train.

Amsterdam's Seven Days of Adventure Brews
Each day during OCB Week, Amsterdam Brewery will release one of their Adventure Series, the excellent, more experimental offerings crafted by head brewer Iain MacOustra. Stay tuned to Amsterdam's twitter and facebook feeds for info as it becomes available.

Ben Johnson also writes about beer over on Ben's Beer Blog. Follow him on twitter @Ben_T_Johnson.

Photo from the Indie Alehouse

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