People starting trickling into our first stop, The Victory Cafe, right on time (6:30pm) and they were promptly given wristbands and ticket stubs for their chance to win prizes throughout the evening. The Victory was awesome to work with, offering any individual taking part on the crawl a pint for only $5, of any product on tap! We were situated in the side room of the Victory, which we quickly filled (quicker than I expected).
It was a great mix of people. There were some beer bloggers, brewery representatives, pub owners, Bar Towel members, readers of this blog and some people currently working on opening a brand new brewery here in Toronto. Not everyone knew each other, but everyone chatted seamlessly with each other, sharing their own personal stories of the brewing/pub industry.
Right before 7pm Enright and I addressed the crowd, thanking them for joining us and letting them in on what the night would include. Enright let everyone know that he would be making two major announcements along the way and I drew a couple of tickets for two prizes before moving onto our next stop, Caplansky's Deli on College St.
Now, before I continue, I'll let you know why we picked the places on the crawl's list as many people were curious about how we chose the Victory, Caplansky's, Ronnie's Local 069, The Embassy Bar and The Cloak and Dagger. When the two of us starting thinking about doing something fun like this our immediate thought was to stay in the downtown core near street cars and subway lines.
There are great places that we have good relations with in the downtown area, but with the police presence for the G20, we figured having a large group of people walking around, or stumbling around, wouldn't go over to well with the men and women in blue (the police). We started looking at other parts of the city with establishments serving good beer close to each other. We strongly considered a Danforth crawl (and that could be the next one?), but we took a closer look at the Annex/Kensington area and decided to hit up some places that don't really get the 'beer recognition' that we feel they deserve.
Now that you know that, on to Caplansky's Deli. We got there just after 7:15pm and the staff had the entire back of the deli reserved for our group. If you have never been to Caplansky's - GO now. Smoked meat, craft beer, great atmosphere and a nice street side patio, all make for a good time. Not many people know that Zane Caplansky (the founder) features a solid draught selection. On tap for the crawl - Duggan's No.9 IPA, King Pilsner, Denison's Dunkel, and Mill Street Organic. The majority of people on the crawl pointed to the Dunkel and those who ordered food thought the pairing was fabulous. More prizes were handed out and Enright made his first announcement - the launch of the 2010 Golden Tap Awards.
Down the road to Ronnie's Local 069 in the Kensington area. Again, Ronnie's, like Caplansky's, doesn't really get the attention it deserves for their beer menu. Too many people associate Ronnie's with hipsters and tend to stay away; however, everytime I've been there its been packed. And it was packed on Wednesday. The group headed straight to the back of the building to occupy Ronnie's private room and pints of Delirium Tremens, Great Lakes Devil's Pale Ale, Stratford Pilsner, and more were ordered. We packed the inside of the place! The only drawback we had at Ronnie's was the smell of cat urine seeping into our room from the back door.
We had picked up some more pub crawl participants now, bumping our numbers up to 33. Not bad for a first crawl with four days of planning. We headed across the road to The Embassy Bar and flooded the place. Again, more people joined us on the crawl and people were really starting to have a good time. The Embassy has a terrific line-up of draught, including: St. Ambroise Oatmeal, Cream and Apricot beers, Black Oak Saison and more. The Embassy is also nicely decorated, features a small front patio, has booth seating, leather chairs, and good music. Definitely worth a visit, but be forewarned, the place is booming on weekend nights.
Enright made his second big announcement of the night at The Embassy with the news that his Import business, Bar Towel Imports, has signed Northhampton Brewing Co. out of Frederiction, NB. Northhampton, which is better known as Picaroon's, will be represented by Enright here in Ontario and five brands have been chosen for a private order that will be made public shortly. Imperial Pils, Man's Best Friend Porter, Timber Hog Stout, Yippee IPA, and Best Bitter.
The Cloak and Dagger was the last stop on the crawl and we got there just after 10:15pm and quickly filled the small pub. There was live music and a fresh cask of Great Lakes Lackey's Caskey, which was simply beautiful. Some more prizes were handed out, we thanked everyone for coming out and thanked those who stayed until the end. Everyone was in good spirits and we received some good feedback from the participants.
In total, 46 people donned the special wristbands we had made for the crawl and there were ten people who received prizes ranging from t-shirts and hats to issues of TAPS Beer Magazines and OCB glassware. Once again, I would like to thank all those who came out and helped make the night a complete success!!
**Read a great review of the crawl by Jordan St. John on his new blog - St. John's Wort.**