In case you hadn’t noticed, craft beer is kind of a big deal in Toronto these days. Between all of the tasting festivals and soon-to-be beer sections in grocery stores, it’s getting easier than ever to try all the beers! But bars in the city deserve major credit for having sparked the trend, by promoting craft beer on their menues, and making it accessible to the uninitiated.
Last year, to give those venues their own attention and love, the Craft Beer Passport was born. A brew-based treasure map, the Passport was the Torontonian’s guide to craft beer friendly bars in neighborhoods all around town. Now, as the 2015 patio season begins in earnest, we’re happy to announce that the Craft Beer Passport is back for a second year! I spoke with Craft Beer Passport creator Mike Stulberg to get the inside scoop on the passport’s success, and what we can expect this year.
Congratulations on the second year of the passport! Clearly year one was a success. Any interesting feedback that you received?
Thanks Angelina! The feedback last year was incredible and I have been doing my best to listen and adapt the Passport to better suit everyones needs. In particular, some Pass holders felt that some destinations were too far to only receive a 12oz. at once they arrived. As a result, I worked hard to negotiate pints this year to enrich the reward of travelling to more distant neighbourhoods! It was particularly interesting to hear from bar owners how much fun they had hosting visitors from across the city that wouldn’t usually roll into their bar without a Passport in hand. I also noticed that people began calling the 20 bars a ‘circuit’ and said things like ‘I hope to run into you along the way’ to one another over social media. I hope that as the CBP grows it can become more of a city wide event and that Passport holders begin to get to know one another.
What were some of the biggest challenges of last year? How do you think you’ve overcome them this time around?
The biggest challenge last year was getting bar owners to understand that discounting their first beer to customers would actually improve their business over time. This was particularly challenging without any proof of concept. Having oodles of social media attention from customers, tweets of photos in the bars and positive feedback from last years bar owners made recruiting bars a thousand times easier this year. I am really happy with the ‘circuit’ and look forward to hearing about everyone’s experiences at each bar.
Are there many changes to the venues? What are some additions you’re most excited about?
Yah so I kept 6 of the favourites from last year and added 14 new ones
. I am most excited about the bars which are not just new to the Passport but new to the city as well! These include The Craft (which has 100 beers on tap), Odd Thomas (which will soon be the brew bar to Mascot Brewery with a nightclub feel), Rainhard Brewery (man does this guy make great beer) and The Four Seven (by the folks over at Tequila Bookworm)! I am also excited about having two bars in the Beaches join us this year. I hope that everyone can see the fun in bar hopping from beach to bar to bar and back again!
This may be jumping the gun, but what sort of future plans do you have for the passport?
There is ideas brewing about a mobile app….but that’s all I can say for now :)
What was your favourite craft brew discovery of 2014?
I fell in love with Left Field’s Sunlight Park Saison
…it became my elixir of life at beer events in 2014.
American Pale Ale has been tickling my fancy and can be found at the LCBO.
Follow Craft Beer Passport via social media and share your adventure!