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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My thoughts: Toronto Beer and Cocktail Show

I didn't hear one positive thing about last years Beer and Cocktail show so I had no idea what to expect for this years event. TAPS: Canada's Beer Magazine had a booth, selling subscriptions, holding contests and looking after the Robert Simpson booth (which was a last minute commitment). The show was being held at the Downsview Park Conference centre, which is in the middle of nowhere and dangerous for drivers planning on having a couple of drinks.

Some of us from the TAPS media team showed up just before 3pm to ensure everything was set up and ready to go. We walked in through the front doors and were astonished to see the set up for the cocktail section. It was full of crazy lights, loud music and scantily clad, barely of age females (and the show hadn't even started). Then we walked through to the beer section, which was located in the back of the establishment and into barren lands.

There was a polka band playing at a high volume, which was irritable due to the echoing off the walls of the empty room. Robert Simpson, Nickelbrook, Rickards, Mill Street, Steelback, McAuslan, Cool, and Innis and Gunn were all in attendance and I made sure to make friends with them right away. Innis and Gunn is always a fall back beer as you can usually find it at most LCBO's and it was a great way to start the long night ahead.

As mentioned, TAPS was looking after the Robert Simpson booth for the weekend and Friday night it was my turn. They had the Anti-Gravity ale on tap and many people were having it for the first time - some liked it a lot, others did not. With Michael Duggan now brewing at RS I noticed a difference in the Confederation Ale when tasted blind, but I am not a big fan of the light, but it serves a different tongue than mine.

I found myself drinking some Steelback Dark (snickers aside, it is not a bad beer) as the two booths were side by side. I had a good conversation with Jonathan Sherman, the young owner of the newly re-structed Steelback brewery about the direction he is steering the brewery in and he seems sincere and passionate about his goals. They have scaled back their line-up to just five beers (Light, Draught, Dark, Lager, Honey) and once back up and running efficiently they may try some seasonals.

I made my way over to Nickelbrook's trailer to have one of their delicious Green Apple Pilsner ice cream floats. You should try it. It was by far and away better than eating the pan fried $5 hamburgers kept warm in a slow cooker. Ugh! And I did make it over to the cocktail side to sample a cucumber Caesar, but the girl didn't know how to make one and it cost 3 damn tokens for a sip. Another reason to love beer.

I did get to witness an older man dressed in leather cover-alls chug two pints while doing a headstand and using no hands. I know what my new years resolution will be for 2009.

So, if I wasn't working at the event or drinking for free, there is no way I would go back to this event. I don't like to bash things, that's not who I am, but this event needs some work. I guess in a different light it is good to get the new 'drinkers' exposed to the beers there and provides a better chance for the beer reps to talk face to face with prospective buyers.

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