Thursday, 31 July 2014

Real Girls Drink Beer: Toronto Festival of Beer

This past weekend I had the opportunity to check out the Toronto Festival of Beer. If you didn't experience it for yourself, well my friend, you missed out. From the moment Sam (@SamRealMan) and I arrived at Bandshell Park, I knew it would be a good day.

Sam and I taking an Uber ride to the festival
The day was perfect for a beer festival: 25 degrees, mix of sun and cloud with the promise of more sun on the way. Upon arrival we were given our official Toronto Festival of Beer steins as well as a fancy media bracelet that would grant us entrance into the media tent for some additional samples. We agreed that the bracelet was most likely on a test run for next year’s festival to eliminate the need for beer tokens, however, no official word was given. Now in the comfort of shaded seats our beer festival was ready to kick off with a nice crisp Brickworks Ciderhouse Batch 1904. This cider was nice and light with just the right amount of sweetness, delicious!

Enjoying our Brickwords Cider
As we ventured off from the media tent we found ourselves in need of tokens. For anyone who hasn’t been to a Beer Fest, all tastings are purchased with tokens - think carnival rides but with beer! While the going rate on tokens was reasonable ($1 = 1 token) the line up to purchase them was the only damper on the day. The tokens aren't just for tastings, but for the delicious food as well (Smoke's Poutine anyone?). This helps ensure no worries about wasted tokens.

With tokens in hand we set out in search of a new favourite. First stop was at Niagara College Teaching Brewery for their First Draft. Very tasty and the program looks interesting as well. From there we tried a brew from across the pond, Innis & Gunn, based out of Edinburgh, Scotland. They had their Original, Lager and Rum Finish available for sampling. The rum finish has a taste to back its name so if you don't enjoy a spiced rum, this one might not be for you.

 But first, let me take a selfie
So you might have caught on, I made it a selfie kind of day. For anyone who knows me, this comes as no surprise. I made it my mission of the day to take a selfie with every beverage I tried and with every server who served me. It made for a very interactive and fun afternoon. And let me tell you, I made a lot of new friends.

As we worked our way around the festival we stopped by the World of Beer tent that this year featured beers from the east coast (some of which were featured on Real Man Travels) and found a great beer by Brewery Ommegang based out of Cooperstown, NY. The beer is Game of Thrones (for real) Fire and Blood. As a limited edition beer, a sample was steep at three tokens, but it did not disappoint, my friends. Cue more selfies!

 Here’s another beer fest selfie with the ladies of Twisted Hard Ice Tea
Left Field Brewery and the Maris*pale ale
Barrie Ontario's own Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery
Canuck Pale Ale from Great Lakes Brewery
Another beer fest selfie
Mill Street's 100th Meridian Amber Ale

Featuring fantastic performances by bands such as The Trews, Matthew Good and K-os, the festival was about more than just beer. Their use of social media (Twitter and Instagram and using the hashtag #BeerMe) made the entire event interactive. Taking their commitment to be environmentally friendly to the next level they forwent having your typical festival brochure, and instead delivered a great and easy to use smartphone app! You could browse the app to find your favourite breweries, save them as such to be alerted to any events that they were doing 15 minutes before they began. They even ran contests throughout the weekend, included a team t-shirt contest, and were constantly engaging festival goers through social media.
My new friends from Mill Street
Side Launch Brewing Company from Collingwood, Ontario
Smirnoff Rocket - sounds so wrong, tastes so right
Angry Orchard selfie
Wychwood Brewery has some interesting offerings
I enjoyed my entire day at The Toronto Festival of Beer. I learned a lot about great local breweries, and found a few new favourites from around the world too. I loved the social media interaction throughout the festival, whether it was the exhibitors or other festival goers. I definitely think #beerfestselfie was a success and a great way to meet other beer loving festival goers; and isn't that what festivals are all about? Enjoying the summer sun, a few good beverages, and meeting people with similar interests.

Here’s a list of a few of my favourites as taken from the Toronto Festival of Beer App:


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