There are plenty of weeks that involve the consumption of beer in Toronto, but there’s only one true Toronto Beer Week. As craft beer’s popularity continues to grow along with the roster of brewers in this city, Toronto Beer Week is a good opportunity to take the pulse of a thriving scene—or, just to knock back a few good brews and have some fun. Whichever you prefer. Here are a few events to look out for.
25th-Annual Festival Of Craft Breweries
Whether you’re new to craft beer, or whether you’ve taken a break (or if you haven’t had a drink since this morning), what better way to kick off a week-long series of beer-themed events than by sampling as many different local beers as possible? There are dozens of brews to sample at the 25th Annual Festival Of Craft Breweries at C’est What (67 Front Street East, September 13 and 14, 5 p.m.), including several cask ales. Some offerings are going to be better than others, but it’s hard to go too far wrong at a buck per sample.
Cantillon Zwanze Day
As much as we might like to shout about multiculturalism, or about how the Leafs might win a few games this year, we Torontonians remain a relatively humble bunch. Not so for the good people of Brussels, particularly those who work at the city’s Brasserie Cantillon. Every year, the brewery makes a special one-off beer called Zwanze, which is released to the world at special Zwanze Day events. Here, that event takes place at Bar Volo. (587 Yonge Street, September 14, 7 p.m.) Tickets for the afternoon tasting session are sold out, but swing by later and you might still be able to get your hands on some of this top fermented, wild-yeast-mixed beer. Even if it’s all gone, there will still be plenty of delicious sour beers from local breweries to savour.
Toronto Beer Quest 4
Normally we avoid any event with “quest” in its name for fear that it’s actually a sting being put on by people who intend to shove us into a locker, but this local-beer-history-themed scavenger hunt, organized by beer expert Mirella Amato, sounds like fun. (19 Charlotte Street, September 15, 11 a.m.) Plus, the fresh air, mental work, and free prizes should help temper your hangover.
We’re still not sure what exactly the relatively new, baseball-themed Left Field Brewery will do once the boys of summer pack things up for the season (although, given the Jays’ record, a little downtime might not be a bad idea). In the meantime, ball fans can enjoy the minutiae of the game at the brewery’s Diamond Club event at Tallboys Craft Beer House. (838 Bloor Street West, September 16, 7 p.m.) It’s an evening of food, free beer, memorabilia swapping, and trivia. The organizers insist it’s all steroid-free.
Beer Hunter: The Story of Michael Jackson
You might be wondering where this whole obsession with craft beer came from. Well, it’s in part thanks to the work of writer Michael Jackson, author of the seminal book The World Guide To Beer, host of the Discovery Channel series The Beer Hunter, and, like so many other great old beer drinkers, owner of a beard that would put a lion to shame. Beer Hunter: The Story of Michael Jackson, a documentary about his work, will be screening at the Rhino, accompanied by a talk by beer aficionado Stephen Beaumont. (1249 Queen Street West, September 19, 6:30 p.m.) Check it out and raise a glass to someone whose work helped ensure that what’s in it isn’t Molson Golden.
Hopera: An Evening of Local Craft Beer and Song
It makes sense for Toronto’s beer events to match the sophistication of its brews. Why not throw on a tux or evening gown (ours are at the cleaners) and check out this beer-themed live opera performance at Habits Gastropub? (928 College Street, September 19, 7 p.m.) And if it proves to be just too much high culture for you, balance it out a couple of days later by putting on your best deadpan expression for a Bill Murray Birthday Beer Bash at An Sibin pub. (709 Queen Street East, September 21, 7 p.m.)