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Ontario Craft Beer Week and Beyond

Some of the best reasons to get out and get drinking this summer.


Summer is around the corner, and with warm weather on its way, it will soon be all about the patios, patios, patios, folks! And while beer and sun are really all you need for a great afternoon or evening, there are also plenty of festivals, tastings, and parties to get you out and drinking this summer.

Five Fabulous Days of Ontario Craft Beer Week

The fifth annual Ontario Craft Beer Week is underway and will run until Saturday at bars and restaurants across the province. The events are mostly of the low-key variety—a few of the more exciting local brewers (who aren’t part of the Ontario Craft Brewers group) won’t be participating—but you’ll still find some great excuses to leave the chores for an evening or two and get out and about.

Monday, bone up on your east-end knowledge (or, if you live on the Danforth, smile and be nice to some clueless westies) with several brewers, including proud east-enders Left Field Brewery, at this year’s Danforth Pub Crawl.

Tuesday, give your cooking skills a boost and enjoy a cold one as Mill Street Brew Pub‘s chef demonstrates cooking with beer during the brewery’s #TapToTable event.

Thursday, stop by 25 Liberty for a three-course beer dinner paired with Muskoka Brewery beer. Then, leave the official events behind for a few hours and go to Bar Hop for a tap takeover featuring a whole whack of beers from Indie Alehouse and Bellwoods Brewery.

Friday, get a taste of cottage country as five brewers take over C’est What with beers for summer nights in the city.

Saturday, watch some of the folks who make that wonderful beer you’ve been drinking all week compete for your amusement while you sample their beer at the second annual Thirsty Games.

Beer Events Later in the Summer

If you’re new to the whole beer-has-flavour thing, or just want to pretend you are in order to pick up dudes or chicks, check out the Luxy’s Beer School series on most Wednesdays from now (next one is June 18) until early July. Beer writer and cicerone Crystal Luxmore will walk you through a bunch of styles, from saisons to sour beer.

Show your patriotism by refusing to spend Canada Day drinking beer that’s Canadian by name but owned by massive multinational corporations. Instead, head to the Evergreen Brick Works on July 1 for the Canada Day edition of The Brewer’s Backyard. Participants include the ever-awesome Great Lakes Brewery, Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Oast House Brewers, and Spirit Tree Cidery.

No matter your level of condescending Toronto-centricity, let’s face it: our neighbour Hamilton is probably cooler than you think. Find out for yourself July 11 and 12 at the inaugural Because Beer Craft Beer Festival. You can try beer from some local (or at least more local than if you were in Toronto) breweries such as The Hamilton Brewery, Hanover’s Maclean’s Ales, Wellesley’s Descendants Beer & Beverage Co., Brantford’s Bell City Brewing Co., and the nanobrewery at The Ship, while taking in some Hamilton-based musicians.

If you like big numbers and don’t mind big crowds, clear out your schedule July 25 or 27 (the 26 is sold out) for Toronto’s Festival of Beer. Although it’s no longer even close to the only game in town for finding many great brewers under one roof, it’s still a good time. And this year, the musical lineup includes the Planet Smashers, which means the chances of a Super Orgy Porno Party breaking out are that much higher.

After giving yourself time to recover, dust off your boots for the Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival, August 9 and 10. Previous incarnations of the festival have garnered praise for their ingenious combinations of beer and food trucks. This year’s festival is basically the same idea—but why mess with a good thing? Brewers include Ottawa’s Big Rig Brewery and St. Thomas’s Railway City Brewing, and money raised will go to the Toronto Railway Heritage Museum.

Also this summer, look out for brewery openings from Muddy York Brewing Co. and Liberty Village Brewing Co. The latter has had its 504 Pale Ale pouring from taps around the city this spring, while the former is the brainchild of award-winning homebrewer and moustache champ Jeff Manol. Both are welcome additions to the city’s beer community.

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