There's a world out there beyond the LCBO. Get in touch with Toronto's craft beer scene at these 2013 summer beer events.
A cool, relaxing beverage by one’s self or in the company of a few friends can be just fine, but with the sheer number of beer events this summer, anyone looking for a crowd to drink with won’t have to look too far. Here are a few that are worth checking out.
Ontario Craft Beer Week
Ontario Craft Beer Week, one of the main drinking events of the summer, started on Sunday, June 16 and goes until the end of this week. (And yes, we’re aware it’s not technically summer yet.) With tap takeovers, beer and food specials, and concerts, there’s something to keep you imbibing every night of the week.
After work on Monday, head east to the Relish Bar and Grill near Woodbine subway station to take part in the Craft Beer Week Danforth Pub Crawl (2152 Danforth Avenue, 5:45 p.m.). It’s a great excuse for east-enders to come out, and for everyone else to realize fun doesn’t stop and turn around at the Don. And once you’re all cozy with the east end, drop in at The Only Cafe on Wednesday or Thursday for some beer accompanied by that classic beer accoutrement: live music. Specifically, live music by the folks who made your beer, who will be competing in a battle of the brew bands (972 Danforth Avenue, 7:30 p.m.). If that kind of entertainment isn’t fancy enough for you, take a trip to south Etobicoke on Thursday night for a round the world tour (60 Horner Avenue, 6:30 p.m.) put on by Beau’s Brewery. It’s an experiential event involving food, beer, costumes, axe throwing, and make-believe. It sounds ambitious and fun.
While it can be tough to spend a whole lot of time out on weekdays (especially if you’ve got, like, a job you care about), there’s really no excuse not to go all-out at Craft Beer Week on the weekend. And what better way to do that than to start the weekend early by taking Friday off and going on a full-day “Marathon Madness” Toronto beer tour (Downsview Station, 11 a.m.)? You’ll head to every corner of the city (well, not Scarborough), meet with brewers, eat food, and, of course, drink. On Saturday, hang out in the sun at Wychwood Barns for this year’s Session Toronto festival (76 Wychwood Avenue, 4 p.m.), a day-long party that includes music, learning, and strange collaboration brews by various celebrities, because why not? End the week with a “nose to tail” five-course dinner with craft beer pairings at the Monarch Tavern (12 Clinton Street, 5:30 p.m.).
Coming Up In July
While many of the events on this list are focused on having fun with others, every now and then there’s nothing wrong with a little exclusivity. And what could be more exclusive than your own growlers of small-batch Bellwoods Brewery beer made with cherries you picked yourself? It can be yours with a donation to Not Far From the Tree (July 6).
We like to rag on each other, hate each other, and mock each others’ hockey teams, but when you get right down to it, Toronto and Ottawa aren’t that different (apart from Toronto being like a thousand times cooler, of course). And the good folks at Brewer’s Backyard have realized that, which is why they’re putting on back-to-back events that feature collaboration beers made by teams of brewers from both cities. The Toronto event takes place July 1 at the Evergreen Brickworks (550 Bayview Avenue, 12 p.m.). It’s a great chance to try brews from some of Ottawa’s craft breweries, which might not otherwise make it this far down the 401.
If you’re like us, you’ve always thought the Filipinos Making Waves Festival is a great cultural celebration that suffers from its lack of a major alcoholic component. Well, that all changes this year. On July 13, the festival will feature the launch of Bamboo Beer (Yonge-Dundas Square), which could be the world’s first bamboo-based beer. Between it and those two bamboo-hungry pandas that recently showed up at the zoo, this region is well on its way to becoming one of the world’s major bamboo consumers, we think.
After taking a couple of weeks to recover from all the boozin’, stop by The Rhino in Parkdale on July 14 for the bar’s Summer Beer Festival (1249 Queen Street West, 11 a.m.). You’ll be able to sample beers from a whole whack of breweries from Toronto and southern Ontario. And if you get bored, the bar has one of the most expansive and (relatively) inexpensive international bottle menus in the city.
Finish off the month with a trip to the granddaddy of all the summer beer festivals, Toronto’s Festival of Beer (Exhibition Place, 4:30 p.m. Fri, 1:30 p.m. Sat and Sun). This is no subdued tasting event. It’s a weekend of fun (and loud) times with beer from breweries both big and small, international and local. And there will be a musical roster that includes the New York hip-hop group De La Soul. Take that, everything else.
Coming Up In August
Kick August off the right way (that is, with beer, barbecue, and music) at the Hart House Craft Beer Festival (7 Hart House Circle, 7 p.m.) on August 1. This year also includes a talk by beer guru Mirella Amato. A bunch of Toronto’s brewers will be serving their creations. Also on tap will be Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Oast House Brewers and Caledon’s Spirit Tree Estate Cidery.
While running a food truck in this city might not be as lucrative as it could be if, say, food trucks were legally allowed to park on the street, there are many events this summer that will hopefully make it worth those creative entrepreneurs’ while. One such event is the Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival (255 Bremner Boulevard), taking place this year on the weekend of August 10 and 11. Last year’s festival included beer from a slew of local brewers and eats from five different food trucks. Given how much more awesome Toronto seems to get every year in the realms of both beer and food trucks, this year should be even better.