Toronto’s Festival of Beer Spring Session 2015

BeerFestSpring2015

If you read my post about last years inaugural event you know it was one of the highlights of my drinking season. The smaller of the two Festival of Beer events it had great food, lively music and of course fantastic beer.

BeerFestSpring2015

I couldn’t wait for this years.  So much so that at one point I was regularly harassing them on social media if they were repeating the Spring event.  The summer event was already announced and tickets selling fast.  Of course since I’m writing this post you already can figure out that Spring Session was a go.  However there was a difference this year around. First a new venue.  A large, barren outdoor space at Sherbourne Common’s near the lake.  No overhead cover like last years making the weather a huge factor on success.  And the intimacy of a smaller crowd would be lacking.

BeerFestSpring2015

The Edge 102.1 was going to be a major sponsor bringing in some great bands to entertain us.  The brewery list stayed gratefully craft and while the food vendors attending were a bit sparse the ones in attendance were of stellar caliber.

BeerFestSpring2015

My week building up to the event was one of hourly weather updates and group texts with weird un-April like snow showing up mid way through and when the day finally came with cool but sunny skies my anxiety over event disappointment was waning.  But I still had to get over the other changes.  Venue, atmosphere, crowds.

BeerFestSpring2015

Fortunately photos can be deceiving and Sherbourne Common’s was not as large as it seemed.  While still bigger that the Brickworks from last year the organizers had it arranged in such a brilliant way that there was tons of space without it feeling vast.  The breweries knocked it out of the park as always.  Mill Street is guaranteed to bring their favorites as well as a new seasonal and Flying Monkeys always get creative for events like these.  My favorite of the day was from a new brewery I had never tried before, Whitewater Brewing Company from Ottawa.  They have a creamy, thick oatmeal stout that I can’t wait to try in my chocolate desserts.

BeerFestSpring2015

Finding a seat right in front of the stage, my group and I rarely moved except to take turns beer running not wanting to leave the outstanding line up of bands performing throughout the day.  A personal favorite, and one of the reasons I chose to attend the Saturday event were JJ & The Pillars a local band whose music and attitude epitomizes was outdoor festivals are all about. Casual, relaxed, and fun. They put together a tight, energetic performance.  These guys are super talented, make sure you check them out.

JJ & The Pillars

I’m glad I was wrong to worry about Spring sessions changing for the worst.  And I feel even better that the changes only made this day even better.  As my regular event attending pal so intelligently put it ” this was the best f$%king event yet!”

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Remember that apple galette I made that had my house smelling of booze?  And the beer fest I mentioned happening in Niagara?  Well that happened over this past weekend and for a summer full of beer events similar to this I have to say this was my favorite.

For one thing this event happened to focus solely on the craft brewers.  No big name beer companies turning it into a giant beer pong and hula skirt frat party.  Therefore it was a lot less messy.  People were a bit more civilized and the atmosphere much more inclusive.

The drinks were top rate, the food killer and bands rocked out.   What a better way to cap off a busy, festive summer.

Check out my photos below and make sure you keep The Niagara Craft Beer Festival on your list of events for 2015!

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

 

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Flying Monkeys

 

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Mill Street

 

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

 

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Turtle Island

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

 

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Say Yes

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

Niagara Craft Beer Fest

The Trews

Weekend Review: Toronto’s Festival of Beer and Taste of Toronto

Toronto's Festival of Beer

Blue skies and beer.

I had all intentions pointed to writing two wonderful and separate posts about my experiences at both of these event this past weekend.  I had planned to take lots of photos, jots down lots of notes and sample to my hearts content.  However sometimes life just has a different plan for you and for me it usually entails blogging delinquency and my camera not even making it out of it’s bag.  Let’s start with Saturday and Toronto’s Festival of Beer.

This was my first ever time attending the summer session of this gigantic event.  30,000 people and 300 plus beer vendors gigantic.  I had been to the smaller more intimate Spring session where I did a review of everything I ate and while I had read all the “Ten Things You Need To Know Before Attending Beer Fest” articles I still naively believe I was in for a similar experience. I couldn’t be more wrong. Again 30,000 people and 300 plus beer vendors wrong.  As I herded my way into the event I knew I was helpless to the sheer volume of the event so I threw away every notion of blogging it and instead did my best to keep people from stepping on my toes, beaning me in the head with…well…a bean bag or toppling into a beer pong cup.  It is also hard to “blog” when you are also there with friends looking to just have a good time and are on their own brewery visit schedule.  I however was fortunate to be invited to the Media Lounge by the great people at Branding and Buzzing and get a respite from the masses while trying to ingest everything I was seeing.

Mill Street to start off the event.

Mill Street to start off the event.

Don’t get me wrong I had a great time.  Found some great new beers (and ginger beers), enjoyed some old favorites (what up Mill Street) and managed to find some out of this world food.  And I would go back.  Quite possible on my own and maybe check it out on a different day.  And I’ll be at the Spring session again for sure.  Check out some of the photo’s I did take with my phone because of course nothing stops a blogger from social media. Nothing.

Toronto's Festival of Beer

Some Live Art happening in the media lounge.

Toronto's Festival of Beer

Milagro Cantina’s killer chicken and pork taco.

Toronto's Festival of Beer

The best sandwich I have ever had. Porchetta & Co

Toronto's Festival of Beer

Flying Monkey a new favorite.

Crabbie's ginger beer.  Where have you been all my life.

Crabbie’s ginger beer. Where have you been all my life.

Toronto's Festival of Beer

Rocking out with The Trews

The very next day I took some time to check out Taste of Toronto, the newest festival on this years schedule, an outstanding event featuring some of Toronto’s best restaurants. While Saturday was about the beer, Sunday was all about the food.  And my excuse for not even bringing my camera.  I decided then and there that this festival was going to be my festival.  The one where I can stroll casually, eat my food hot and leave the blogging hat at home.  I just wanted to enjoy.  (And take phone photos, cause seriously!)

Taste of Toronto

Taste of Toronto

Paella from Patria

Paella from Patria

The ever humble and present Chef Mark McEwan

The ever humble and present Chef Mark McEwan

Taste of Toronto

Duck Taco from Barque

Fried Chicken from The McEwan Groups One Restaurant

Fried Chicken from The McEwan Groups’ One Restaurant

Old world meets new

Old world meets new

Charcuterie from Richmond Station

Charcuterie from Richmond Station

Ricotta, Peas, Meyer Lemon and Verjus from The Grove

Ricotta, Peas, Meyer Lemon and Verjus from The Grove

Stocking up from Momofuku's Milk Bar

Stocking up from Momofuku’s Milk Bar

Go ahead and click any of the links or photos for more information.  And don’t worry. Next year I’ll get my act together 🙂