Spotlight On: Craft Beer Passport 2016

While you can usually track the start of spring with the blooming of trees, in Toronto you can chart the good weather by the number of patios open. The first day possible, Torontonians are out enjoying beer in the sun. Well, what better way to enjoy your beer and your city than with a passport to our local craft beer watering holes.

For the third year in a row, beer enthusiasts can pick up a Craft Beer Passport, and challenge themselves to discover a favourite new venue. New this year though are area-specific passports (East-End and West-End), to either cater to the locals, or inspire people to venture beyond their neighbourhood borders. Each $20 pass will offer $2 12oz beers at 20 locations, or $30 for both if you’re feeling particularly ambitious.

Once again, I spoke with Craft Beer Passport creator Mike Stulberg to get the inside scoop on the passport’s past success, and what we can expect this year. (See my interviews for 2015 and 2014).

Both Passports

Wow, two passports! Is this based more on customer feedback, or on the opportunity to have a broader reach?
I had been feeling guilty about my relative neglect of the east-end for a while. East-end customers had felt unsatisfied with a small handful of bars included in the Passport. I figure, many East-enders were not buying into the program for that reason and that many West-enders weren’t making the trip out to the east-end, as well. This city is just so HUGE and now that the East-End sports a ton of craft beer serving bars it just made sense to cater to Torontonians equally while still encouraging them to buy the opposite Passport to where they live or both and get out of their comfort zone a bit!

Click here to buy your 2016 passport(s)! 

Have any bars reached out to you at this stage asking to participate?
Yes, all the time. A benefit to the industry I never foresaw in my first year is that bars are inclined to want to put on craft beer lines if I can help get customers in the door. Occasionally, I have to turn down bars that contact me because they don’t have a great craft selection. This conversation usually ends with a plan to reconvene a year later once they have picked up more craft beer. :)

Click here to see the list of Participating Bars

West-End Passport

What sort of Social feedback have you been receiving in the previous years?
I love the social aspect of this business. Last year I started including in the Passport package a ‘post-card’ containing some of the best image shares from the previous year and the ask that Pass holders share photos of their beers a voila! tons of people are engaging with my and other pass holders online. Its great. I am eager to find ways to connect these people face-to-face with the CBP as an ice breaker.

How did the new bars last year respond to the Passport? Is it easier to get new participants now that you have the ball rolling? Absolutely. Proof of success is invaluable. As are the referrals made by past participating bars. East-End Passport What sort of evolution do you see for the Passport next year, or in 5 years? Or is it too soon to tell? Year round. More social/meet-ups. Digital. both What was your favourite beer discovery of 2015? Collective Arts Project Gose and their Hefeweizen knocked me off my feet the other day and were surprisingly tasty when sampled successively (salty, sweet, salty, sweet).

What do you think will be the next big beer trend of 2016?
Well its clear already that farmhouse ales reign supreme in 2016.

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To hype up the 2016 passport’s offerings, Revival Bar will once again be hosting a free launch party on June 1st. Come sample 7 local brews, backed by music from DJ Koray Ozel (founder of Istolethesoul Records).

Launch party breweries: Great Lakes BreweryRainhard Brewing Co.Beau’s All Natural BrewingSide Launch Brewing CompanyCollective Arts BrewingNickel Brook Brewing Co.Henderson Brewing Co.

Passports for both the East-End and West-End will be available for purchase, and a massive door prize will go home with one lucky winner:
A ‘Brewscovery Box’ generously provided by The Brew Box Co!

So Torontonian beer lovers, be sure to come out to Revival and share kick off a new and delicious beer season!

Follow Craft Beer Passport via social media and share your adventure!