The Top 5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of The Toronto Winter Brewfest

(photo courtesy of Ottawa Brewfest)

Beer festival season has officially begun and to kick it all off the Toronto Winter Brewfest has returned for it’s second straight year. After listening to their guests from last year about what could be improved it is guaranteed to better than ever.  For two days ( March 24-25, Enercare Centre, Toronto) you can join the masses of Toronto beer lovers, nibble on delectable eats, groove to the funky beats of local DJ’s and of course sample over 150 different beers from around our great country all while staying warm and dry. And for the first time they will be introducing a cashless system using a RFID wristband that will get you through the lines and the beer into your mouth faster.

There isn’t much I need to say to convince any beer lover to attend so instead here are my top five ways for you to get the most out of your day.

(photo courtesy of Ottawa Brewfest)

  1. Get There Early. 

    As the saying goes the early bird gets the worm.  In this case the early beer drinker gets the shortest lines and full kegs.  Don’t be that person who shows up three hours in and complains they can’t that special rare pour from their favorite brewer. Be the person who has tried it three times cause they came early.

    (photo courtesy of Ottawa Brewfest)

  2. Ease In.

    I know with all that variety it’s like being a kid in a candy store but don’t go running around gobbling up the Belgian quads and Imperial Stouts. Start light and work up. Don’t be that person who taps out an hour in.

    (photo courtesy of Ottawa Brewfest)

  3. Try Something New.

    I understand we all have our styles and breweries of choice. The ones we know won’t disappoint. But with over 150 different beers available right there in front of you step outside your comfort zone and try something new. Ask the brewery to recommend something. I like to say “surprise me” as I hand over my glass. Don’t be that person that spends all their money in one place.

    (photo courtesy of Ottawa Brewfest)

  4. Talk To People.

    It’s a long day pulling glass after glass, trying to keep up with the lines.  Make a point to say something to the person that is pouring your sample. Keep it quick and simple so you don’t hold up any lines. Or if a representative of the brewery is there ask them a question or compliment their work. They are the best resource to finding other beers you will enjoy and quite frankly deserve the extra love from the community for all their hard work.  Also talk to people around you. We are all there for the same reason. Beer. Don’t be the wallflower.

    (photo courtesy of Ottawa Brewfest)

  5. Remember We Are Not Saving The World Here.

    It’s a beer festival people. Get off your high horse. Leave your snobby beer terminology at home (trust me this will be a tough one for me). Just enjoy yourself. We are drinking beer. We are not curing diseases. HAVE FUN!!! Don’t be the person with less social media followers than when they arrived.

Tickets are still available so make sure you get yours today and say hi if you see me!

(photo courtesy of Ottawa Brewfest)

Toronto Winter Brewfest

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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.

Brewfest Photo 2

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.

Brewfest Photo 3

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.

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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.

Brewfest Photo 5

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.

Brewfest Photo 6

Toronto Brewers

Some well known local breweries as well as a few new ones will be serving tasty suds this weekend as well.

Pitsch Fork  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.

Brewfest Photo 7

B.C Brewers

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.

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

Mini Apple Galette’s with Brown Sugar Cider Sauce + The Niagara Craft Beer Festival

Right now at this very moment my house smells like booze. If the step kids were here, probably not a good idea but since I’m all alone with the house to myself things just got real.

It also smells like apples and cinnamon and pie crust but really what’s most important here?  And why, you ask, does my house smell this way.  Because of these.

Apple Galettes

Kicked up, boozy adults-only apple galettes.  Now you get it!

I’ve been wanting for a while to create something using the currently popular alcoholic ciders on the market and after talking with the owner of the Brickworks Ciderhouse and trying his refreshing product back in the Spring at an event I knew this was the drink for me. There are a lot of brands of cider on the market and it may be hard to choose which one to purchase but trust me when I say you can’t go wrong here.  Small batch, hand crafted cider from a company hoping to repurpose the old orchard around the Evergreen Brickworks for their own apple source.  But until then apples used in each of their batches never travel more than 300 kilometers meaning local and sustainable.

Apple Galettes

Craft is a word you hear loosely thrown around beer drinkers and you may be completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of brewers out there. It is a term generally used to describe beers made by a small, independant brewers using traditional means to create great tasting beer.  Simple.  And the best way to navigate through all the varieties?  Attend a beer event like The Niagara Craft Beer Festival being held at Montebello Park in St. Catherines August 22-24. With more than 20 vendors on site you can taste to your hearts content and I can 100% guarantee you will find at least one new beer you will absolutely love.  I’ve been to many beer events like this one and thanks to cheap and small sample sizes I have stocked my fridge with an abundant variety to drink over the summer.

Another great thing about Craft Beer Festivals is it usually brings out some stellar food vendors that offer up eats that always pair well with a cold one.  And to top everything else you can enjoy live music from artists like The Trews and USS while enjoying all this great food and drink.

This is how recipes like this happen.  By attending beer festivals and sampling new and sometimes eccentric flavors my taste buds begin conversations with the recipe developer in me and before you know it my house smells like booze.

And one last thing.  My rule when cooking with alcohol: always serve it with the dish for maximum taste.  If it’s good enough to go in the dish, it’s good enough to serve along side it.

Yields 6

Mini Apple Galette's with Brown Sugar Cider Sauce + The Niagara Craft Beer Festival

Frozen pastry shells can be substituted if you are not comfortable with making you own dough.

Save RecipeSave Recipe

Ingredients

  • For the Galettes
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 5-6 tbsp cold water
  • 4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced ( I used Granny Smiths)
  • 1/4 cup Brickworks Cider
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • For the Cider Sauce
  • 2 cups Brickworks Cider
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Instructions

  1. To make the Galettes
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt and sugar.
  3. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until flour resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Adding a tablespoonful at time stir in the water until the dough begin to come together and form a rough ball of dough. Store in fridge until ready to use.
  5. In another bowl stir together the apples, cider, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. To make the mini galettes separate the dough into 6 even sized pieces.
  8. Using a rolling pin roll out the dough into 6" round circle. (you can use a bowl to get the shape and size you want.
  9. Arrange the apples in a pretty spiral in the center of the dough, or simply pile them in the middle making sure a 1" edge is maintained. Fold the edges up and on to the apples leaving the center open faced. Repeat with remaining dough and apples.
  10. Brush the edges with the egg white and bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. They are ready when the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven.
  11. While the galettes are baking, make the Cider Sauce.
  12. In a saucepan over med-high heat bring the cider to a boil until reduced by half.
  13. Quickly whisk in the cornstarch, butter and brown sugar and bring everything to a boil, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes and the sauce has thickened.
  14. You can serve the galettes warm or cold and drizzled with the warm sauce.
Recipe Type: Dessert
7.6.4
138

*Disclaimer- This is a sponsored post.  I was asked to create a recipe using any of the beer vendors participating during the Niagara Craft Beer Festival. Had I not been asked I still would have created this eventually!