beer festivals near toronto

The top 10 beer festivals near Toronto for 2015

Beer festivals outside of Toronto obviously can't be as good as those held in Toronto by virtue of the fact that everything we do here, we do way cooler, but that doesn't mean that they aren't worth checking out if you happen to be in the area, right?

Besides, if you're at a festival that no one in Toronto really knows about, doesn't that make you cooler than them? Look, I don't know what cool is, OK? Here are some fun events related to beer that would make a great excuse for a road trip. Stop worrying about what everyone thinks.

These are my top picks for beer festivals and events happening this year outside of Toronto.

The Fort Henry Beerfest and Food Truck Festival (Kingston, June 13)
Technically part of Ontario Craft Beer Week, this event will actually feature breweries from both Ontario and Quebec--and, as the name suggests, food trucks. For some local flavour, check out the increasingly interesting offerings from Kingston's own Stone City Ales.

Tickets are $25 and include $10 worth of "taste tickets."

The King City Craft Beer and Food Truck Festival (King City, June 13)
Live music, some great food trucks, and local beer at King City's Memorial Park. If you've never had it, try the pilsner from King Brewery. Technically King Brewery is in Nobelton, 10km away from King City, but they're both called King and, hey, it's a really nice beer.

$10 in advance or $15 at the door and includes a glass for the first 1500 attendees and three drink tokens.

The Collingwood Craft Beer and Cider Festival (Collingwood, June 13-14)
The inaugural, eponymous downtown event goes down at Eddie Bush Memorial Arena and the adjacent parking lot and will feature beer from a handful of Ontario brewers and a couple cideries. Look for local guys Side Launch Brewery, Northwinds, and The Collingwood Brewery.

Tickets are $20 for one day, includes a stein and three beer tokens.

The Kawartha Craft Beer Festival (Peterborough, June 20)
Peterborough's first craft beer festival at Louis Street Park has legitimate claim to the "most indie" beer festival of the summer (a title I just invented). Check out beer from small breweries your friends definitely haven't heard of yet including Publican House, Smithworks, Bobcaygeon, Old Flame, William Street, Church Key, and Boshkung Brewing.

Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door and include a glass and four drink vouchers.

Because Beer (Hamilton, July 10-11)
The Hammer is kind of a happening beer scene, man. Case in point, the second installment of Because Beer at Hamilton's picturesque Pier 4 Park, which will feature over 30 breweries, live music, and food trucks. There will be brewers from across Ontario, including Hamilton's own Collective Arts Brewing, Garden Brewers, The Hamilton Brewery and even Toronto transplant Brad Clifford.

Tickets $29.95 in advance for one day $35.00 at the door, includes a mug and four tokens.

The Burlington Beer Festival Burlington, July 17-19)
Burlington is really up and coming. In 1974, when the population exceeded 100,000, Burlington was finally incorporated as a city. And then last year, they got a beer festival.
Raise a glass to The Burl's blazing progress this summer when a handful of brewers will descend on Spencer Smith Park for the hottest ticket in town. Take that, Royal Botanical Gardens!

Tickets are $35 a day and include a mug and six tokens.

Ribfest and Craft Beer Fest (Kitchener, July 17-19)
If there's one thing most beer events are lacking, for my money it's ribs, man. This event at Victoria Park has you covered with "some of the best ribs and chicken in the country" to soak up the lengthy selection of craft beer that's being poured. (Seriously why aren't there more ribs at beer events?)

Admission is free but you'll pay for your beer and BBQ.

Griffin Session Muskoka (Bracebridge, August 2)
Griffin Session Muskoka is a lot like Toronto's version of Session, except it's in Muskoka (and run by the owner of the Griffin Gastro Pub). 30 Ontario craft breweries will descend on Annie Williams Park in an event that also features Ontario wine, cider, and spirits. There's beer/wine/spirit education and even some acoustic music. Drink beer from Muskoka, Lake of Bays, and Sawdust--resident Muskokan brewers.

$10.00 in advance, $15.00 at the gate.

The Forest City Beer Festival (London, August 15)
London, Ontario is the 1847 birthplace of Labatt Brewery, and the arena there, once called the John Labatt Centre, is now called Budweiser Gardens. That's why it's sort of badass that directly across the street from said arena, at Covent Garden Market, organizer Aaron Brown will host a beer festival for craft beer for the third year. Seek out unique offerings from local guys Forked River Brewing and try the lineup of new local guys Toboggan Brewing Co.

Admission is free; you'll pay for your beer.

Ottawa Craft Beer Festival (Ottawa August 28-30)
The second installment of the Ottawa Craft Beer Fest will feature 40 craft breweries and one fake St. Louis Brewery that's actually owned by one of the biggest beer companies in the world. Visit the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne Park and sip locally-made offerings from Beyond The Pale, Beau's All Natural and Ashton Brew Company while you discuss why the hell Shock Top is at a "craft" beer fest.

$15.00 in advance, $20.00 at the gate.

Now that we've got your road trip schedule filled up, stay tuned for blogTO's annual list of local summer beer festivals, coming soon.

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

Photo via Griffin Session Muskoka

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