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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Session: A Craft Beer Festival Re-Cap

Rain.  G20. Traffic issues and TTC stoppages.  These are just some of the things that got in the way of this weekends, Session: A Craft Beer Festival; however, the festival still came out a winner in the end.

Back in March, as soon as the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) announced that they would be putting together Ontario's first ever Ontario Craft Beer Week, two publican's from Bracebridge, Jed Corbeil and Curt Dunlop, put they heads together and came up with a proposal to host a large festival at Toronto Sunnyside Pavilion to help cap the OCB week.  The idea garnered a lot of up front interest and the wheels were set in motion, June 26 would be the day of the festival and the Sunnyside Pavilion was more than happy to host such an event.

Months of planning went into the Session.  Bands were carefully chosen, local food vendors were selected and a mixture of breweries from Ontario were asked to participant, including Propeller and Garrison from Nova Scotia, Tree from British Columbia, and Unibroue and McAuslan from Quebec - 25 breweries in total.

TAPS Beer Magazine had a booth there as well, which had me there nice and early on the Saturday morning to get set-up.  It had started raining very early and by the time I rolled around to Sunnyside it had turned into a pour.  Corbeil and Dunlop are no strangers to rain, though.  Last year they organized the first annual Muskoka Beer Festival in Bracebridge and rain reared its ugly side then, as it was on Saturday.  Both organizers were in great spirits when I caught up with them and I noticed that they had most, if not all, of the breweries either under cover of the roof of the Pavilion or they were under tents, making it tolerable to walk from booth to booth.

By noon (start time) there were small clusters of people entering the grounds and although they were wet, all were happy to be there to try the beers.  There were times when the crowd grew in size, and the rain did stop at times, giving every exhibitor hope that the place would soon be full, but then word broke that the G20 protest had gotten ugly and TTC and GO Train service was not operating.

Still, even with those setbacks, the festival went off without any glitches and everyone from ticket buyers to exhibitors to volunteers were having a good time.  The cost to enter was $35 and that provided you with a limited edition festival glass and.  Each drink ticket was a dollar and breweries were either pouring 4 or 8 oz samples.  Crowds grew at the Garrison and Tree booths, and Propeller was busy throughout most of the day as people were excited to try the beers they brought from out of province. Duggan's and Great Lakes both had casks, and they didn't last long.  The Session also featured a Toronto Beer Week booth where committee members handed out information about the September 20-26th event to interested individuals.

The food was good at every station and well priced, and the bands that Corbeil and Dunlop went with were terrific.  And the Sunnyside Pavilion was/is an amazing location to hold a beer festival.  Great views of Lake Ontario, splendid architecture, and lots of shelter from wind and rain, in all it was a good time and I hope that the two organizers plan to try it again next year.

1 comment:

Teena in Toronto said...

We had a fabulous time!

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