Our guide to this year's craft beer extravaganza.
Look alive, folks, look alive! Toronto Beer Week is upon us once more!
For those not in the know, Toronto Beer Week is a slightly more-than-one-week event where, from today to September 26th, local breweries, bars, and venues band together in a series of beer events that range from specials on pints and flights, to education sessions and pairing dinners, and even to some incredible world-class events that just can’t be missed. In a city that almost seems to average on about two to three beer events per week, I’m often impressed how relevant Toronto Beer Week makes itself every year, due in large part to all the breweries and venues who clamour to outdo one another in embracing the amazing variety of beer out there.
However, while there are many, MANY fantastic events going on, it can’t be denied that there are a few that stick out among the rest. With that, here is a selection of events that should definitely be marked on your calendar.
September 19 – Cantillion Zwanze Day / Funk Night 2015
Bar Volo – 587 Yonge Street
3:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
This is the event that has even the most cynical beer geek feeling tingly in their swimsuit area. Bar Volo, one of Toronto’s foundations in the Good Beer movement, for the third time hosts Zwanze Day, the worldwide release of a one-off lambic beer made by Belgium’s infamous Brasserie Cantillon. Served in 17 countries simultaneously at 3:00 p.m. on one day only, this year’s Zwanze is a Wild Brussels Stout originally brewed in 2013.
Unfortunately, if you weren’t one of the 220 folks who bought tickets to try this beer, you’re out of luck. Tickets sold out the first day.
But hey, wait! Come back! Although that Zwanze is out of your reach, Volo is hosting their much-celebrated Funk Night alongside, with over 32 sour, barrel-aged, and downright funky beers from all over the world served, including four beers by Cantillon for the folks who missed out on the Zwanze. Free admission, you just pay what you order.
September 18-19 – C’est What 28th Festival of Craft Breweries
C’est What? – 67 Front Street East
5:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Want to see how the current climate is with Ontario beer? With over four dozen local beers for each night of this two-night event at C’est What, you’re bound to get up to speed and make some wonderful discoveries.
September 20 – Indie Ale House 3rd Annual Home Brew Tap Takeover
Indie Alehouse Barrel House – 165 Geary Avenue
Session one: 12:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Session two: 5:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
I’ve long been a fan of the strides Indie Ale House has made in bringing recognition to the amazing talent found in our homebrewing community, and this event, held in Indie Ale House’s Barrel House at 165 Geary Avenue, is a result of their commitment to honouring our homebrewers’ creativity. With 24 unique recipes made on its pilot system, it’s a fantastic event that shows that not only can anyone make a beer, but also anyone can make a truly special beer. The event is split into two sessions and a ticket costs $11.49, with $2 per drink token.
September 23 – Golden Tap Awards
Beer Bistro – 18 King Street East
5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
A star-studded night filled with brewers, beer writers, and the people who love them. Billed as Ontario’s most democratic awards event with all voting taking place online by the general public, the Golden Tap Awards works not only as a fine barometer on some of the best beers in Ontario today, but also puts the social media skills of the beer folk involved to the test. Come for the wonderful samples and industry schmoozing, stay for the full pints of the featured beers after the awards are handed out.
September 24 – Greatest Hits – Bar Hop
Bar Hop – 391 King Street West
I’m pretty sure it’s well-known fact by now that if Bar Hop puts on an event, it’s going to be a damn good one. One of Toronto’s best bars hosts a tap takeover featuring some of the city’s best breweries, including the likes of Great Lakes, Amsterdam, Bellwoods, Indie Ale House, Nickel Brook, and West Avenue Cider. As is Bar Hop’s modus operandi for such events, expect plenty of rarities and special collaborations poured throughout the evening. Admission is free and you buy your own drinks.