Follow beer writer, Troy Burtch, as he explores the wonderful world of craft beer and the pubs that serve it. Great Canadian Beer is a place to come to catch up on beer news, read tasting notes, check out event listings, and for pub previews and reviews.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Session #16 - Beer Festivals

Okay I'm submitting this four days late. I'm sorry. Things have been very busy and it has been hard to find the time to get this posted. Geistbear Brewing Blog chose 'Beer Festivals' as the subject of the 16th edition of the Session so I guess that's what I'll write about.

Unlike Alan at A Good Beer Blog I enjoy going to beer festivals, so much that I try my damnest to attend them all. Unfortunately my job, finances and other hobbies prevent this, but I do manage to attend my fair share.

Now my definition of a beer festival my vary from yours as I lump all beer events, both large and small, into the same category. I am a much bigger fan of the small, intimate festivals like Volo's Cask Days, Pepperwood Bistro and Brewery festival or C'est What's festivals for craft beers. I must admit though, that I haven't been to Mondial yet or the Great Canadian Beer Festival in British Columbia, two festivals that are highly regarded, but dates have been blocked for 2009 for this to happen.

I can remember my first beer festival, the NSLC Halifax Beerfest held at Pier 22, right beside its famous sister Pier 21. I was working with Labatt at the time, so we were given free tickets and the rest of the night was a blur. They NSLC held the event and all the products available were those from the NSLC. While the rest of the fella's stuck to Bud Light or Keith's, I was hanging out with Guy McClelland of McClelland Premium Imports drinking as much Delirium Tremens as he would give me, which was a lot. While everyone else at the event was sampling from small wine glasses I was walking around with a beautiful Delirium goblet filled to the brim. Delicious. It really was a gong show geared towards a younger crowd whose only focus was to get as drunk as possible (on the Friday night anyway). Yet this festival opened my eyes to the other beer fests out there and ignited my curiosity.

I returned from my year away in Nova Scotia just in time for the Toronto Beer Festival and in time to man the Keith's Red booth. Funny stuff. I was wearing a Keith's Red golf shirt, which I had to remove when I walked around to the various craft brewery tents. I don't think I even touched a drop of Keith's that night. I got to meet a lot of Ontario brewers for the first time that night, as well as a lot of good beer drinkers I tend to share a beer with at beer events to this day. I had a great time at the Toronto Beer Festival but the price tag for admission is to high, the token system wasn't working the best, long line-ups for food and bathrooms and this was only on Thursday night.

Today I go to beer festivals for three reasons: 1. To try various one-offs or seasonal releases made by craft brewers before they hit the market, 2. To catch up with some of the nicest people in the brewing industry, and 3. To work. I may do an interview or talk to some people to obtain some new information for TAPS or for this blog. Sometimes it takes the fun away from the actual event, but it is what it is.

So see you at the next festival - Victory Cafe Cask Ale Festival.

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