When I think of the Toronto Festival of Beer, the expression that comes to mind that best describes my feelings about it is Christmas In July. I look forward to it all year, as to me it is the epitome of summer fun. The festival is a time of merriment, of camaraderie, and of sharing.  Torontonians come out in droves to enjoy beer together, and I think that is a beautiful thing. I was very happy to head over to Bandshell park and attend this year – and have the pics to prove it. 

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With over 60 breweries represented, it is very difficult to go thirsty at Beerfest. Breweries work tirelessly to bring product both classic and new, so widen your knowledge of what is out there in the market.  I use Untapped pretty religiously to keep track of my beer experiences and I have walked away with a lot of new tasting notes to take on my future shopping runs and bar visits.  Of course there is also the festival’s own app to help augment your experience.

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Beer enthusiasts are a fun bunch of people to be around on a festival day, it’s like a fan convention for drinkers. There are even costumes and group ensembles. One man showed up with his own hand-crafted leather beer holsters. Now that is a commitment to beer!

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The crowds are large but jovial, the selection is vast, and the music is loud.  On Sunday night all of Liberty Village was serenaded by Matthew Good’s amazing set.  The daytime performers kept the mood up even under the hot sun.

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Of course no matter how large a breakfast you may have started with, after a while your stomach is going to crave something solid – and fortunately there is no shortage of great food options. There were plenty of one-hand food items (the other hand is still holding your beer of course) from lobster tacos to, to sandwiches, to pork buns.

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Ted Reader and other food experts were also present to make sure that you go home knowing how to grill like a champ so that your backyard beer parties (aka barbeques) go perfectly.

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My favourite attraction was the Prud’homme Brewmaster series – their beer sommeliers and brewers were on hand to show us how beer can be more than just a  stand-alone beverage. We first sat through a session on beer cocktails and I am now a believer! We enjoyed the show so much that we came back and learned about the awesomeness of beer and cheese pairings! You haven’t lived till you’ve given this a try.

(Edit: In fact, now you can – Matt, our beer cocktail guide, was kind enough to provide the recipes to the drinks we tried! I heartily recommend the Smashbomb Sour!)

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Some craft beer enthusiasts may turn their nose up at the attendance of the Big Brands like Molson and Coors, but I feel that’s unwarranted. There is no pretension that this is a festival solely for craft brewers or their fans – it is a festival of beer in general, and that means appealing to all customers. Some people genuinely like Bud, to each their own. We have plenty of craft beer celebrations throughout the year (next up: Roundhouse!), so why not relax about it for a day. Besides, they know that they aren’t the main draw, so they more than make up for it by setting up the most elaborate tents. And who doesn’t love a free cowboy hat?

Over all the weekend went great and people left happy, full of beer, and a bit more informed about all of our options when we want to share a drink with friends.

If you missed the festival but want to feel like you were there, crack open a drink and check out our full gallery of Toronto Festival of Beer 2014!



Created with flickr slideshow.