It’s a long, dry winter for beer drinking festivals in Toronto. From Cask Days in October to the Toronto Festival of Beer Spring Session in May those of us who love the variety and exploration that comes with mass beer events have to find solace in their local craft bars and slightly adequate beer and liquor purveyors. Our wallets become lighter for paying full price and our kidneys and liver are taxed from full size servings.
Luckily the great people of Ottawa have bestowed on us their amazing sensibilities and have brought to the city the Inaugural Toronto Winter Brew Fest. Running the weekend of February 19th and 20th at the Enercare Centre this event brings together everything beer connoisseurs want; new and exciting brews, on cask beers, great music and delicious eats from popular food trucks. And it’s all roof covered and temperature controlled. Oh and did I mention the indoor plumbing.
Tickets are still available but are sure to sell out soon. In the meantime I reached out to some of the breweries heading into town for that weekend and I got a sneak peek at what they will be pouring.
Ottawa and Area Brewers
Given that this festival originated in our nation’s capital it’s only fitting that some of that city’s greatest beers will be making an appearance.
Big Rig Brewery is bringing two new pours to the show; the Alpha Bomb, a new double dry IPA and the Hoppin’ Maibock a zippy take on a traditional spring beer. The Maibock will be hitting the LCBO very soon so Brewfest is a great first look.
Bicycle Craft Brewery will be serving their flagship hop heavy bitter Velocipede IPA and Crimson Cascade; an dark reddish copper American Amber while Cartwright Springs Brewery will delight with a delectable sounding Bourbon Vanilla Brown and the crushable SMASH, all brewed using their natural spring water.
Nita Beer Company is getting creative with a Spruce flavoured ale called Cranshaw’s Ale, OPA; their IPA as well as a Hefe Cask called Ashley Madison Fix. Festival goers will be all over that ale.
Central and Northern Ontario Brewers
Cottagers may already be familiar with a handful of these brands found North off highway 400.
Sawdust City Brewery (Gravenhurst) is pouring a brilliantly titled, rich, chocolaty Stout; “Long Dark Voyage to Uranus” aa well as the “Winding Road for 7km” a rye saison. For anyone wanting to really try something different try a saison. I have never had a bad saison.
Collingwood Brewery is featuring their ESB (extra special bitter) Fireside with its taste bud grabbing IBU of 40 with hints of caramel and toffee.
Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery, from my hometown of Barrie, always brings their A game to these festivals. They are pouring a Netherworld Cascadian Dark Ale and previewing the Juicy Ass IPA which won’t be available in the store till late summer. All the more reason to come try it.
The always steady Creemore Springs will be offering a wide selection of their beers but make sure you come by their booth, say hi to Brodie and enjoy a great beer and conversation especially their Lot 9 Pilsner.
And on tap over at Muskoka Brewery (Bracebridge) is their Twice as Mad Tom; an Imperial IPA, Winterweisse; a spicy dunkelweizen and their hoppy Detour IPA.
Southwestern Ontario Brewers
The Guelph and Waterloo area is chock full of great microbreweries and brew pubs and this weekend many of them will be sharing their amazing beers with us.
Stouts are a popular winter choice and Guelph’s own StoneHammer Brewing adds a Oatmeal Coffee Stout along with their signature Pale Ale to the mix.
Brick Brewery, well known for their Waterloo brands will be offering up Traditional IPA as well as a citrusy and refreshing Grapefruit Radler.
Wellington Brewery will also be sharing a popular stout, their Imperial Russian. It’s a bold full bodied beer with chocolate and caramel aromas.
Recently I got to attend a taps takeover from the talented brewers from Royal City Brewing Company and couldn’t decide from the six beers which one I liked the best. They were all superb. At this year’s festival they have a tea infused Hibiscus Saison and hoppy Exhibition Session IPA.
Some well known local breweries as well as a few new ones will be serving tasty suds this weekend as well.
Pitschfork is a Toronto based small batch craft brewing company “the product of equal parts passion and procrastination, topped with more than a bit of blind faith.” They are serving a crisp, clean, refreshing German Style pilsner, the Pitsch Perfect Pilsner.
Left Field Brewery plans to blow minds with Sweet Jesus, a mocha marshmallow stout. Roasted and crushed cocoa nibs, Sweet Jesus coffee beans and the creaminess from added lactose, this blend of chocolate, caramel and sweet orange flavours will leave a lasting impression.
Another local Junction Craft Brewing plans on bringing many of their popular brands including Conductor’s Craft Ale, Brakeman’s Session Ale or Stationmaster’s Stout. Plus a few surprises.
No beer festival would be complete without some Mill Street on tap. Don Valley Bench is one of their new seasonals . A crisp and palate cleansing, slightly cloudy straw-gold beer, this flavour is currently available only in their summer sampler at your local beer and liquor store.
Black Oak Brewing Company, out in Etobicoke, is offering guests my current favorite their awarding winning Nut Brown Ale and 10 Bitter Years IPA.
Ontario isn’t the only game in town. Head over to the Okanagan Spring booth and give their hoppy and fruity Pale Ale and crisp Bavarian Lager a taste.
Whatever your palate prefers there is no doubt many beers in attendance at the Winter Brew Fest to appeal to everyone’s tastes even beyond those mentioned here. And with beer events such as these being the perfect opportunity to sample many beers at a time a few new favorites will be found.