The inaugural Toronto Beer Week starts Monday, September 20th (or unofficially Sunday with a Dieu du Ciel!/Stephen Beaumont brunch at beerbistro) and runs until Sunday the 26th. As the list of events has grown to be quite substantial, perhaps even daunting, I thought it would be handy to help pick a couple of events from each night and narrow the field a bit (prices listed when available). Be sure to check back frequently next week for my event wrap ups and thoughts on TBW as a whole.
Monday: To start the week, it might be a good idea to develop some beer vocabulary and know what to expect when you’re drinking craft beer. My Monday recommendation is More Than Meets The Eye happening at C’est What (7-8:30pm, $20). The knowledgeable Mirella Amato of Beerology will lead a blind tasting of nine different beers, talking about different styles of beer and explaining how to properly taste beer. It won’t be as pretentious as it sounds and you can wow people over the following six nights with everything you learned. Advance tickets available.
Up town, the Granite Brewery will be launching a new beer in conjunction with the Southern Ontario Brewers (SOBs). The Granite is one of the oldest and well respected craft beer establishments in Toronto, so it must be included in any TBW itinerary. You probably won’t want to go too overboard on a Monday night and their sessionable English ales will help prevent that.
Tuesday: The big event Tuesday is the BrewDog dinner, but you’re out of luck if you don’t have a ticket. But hanging out with local craft brewers can be just as fun, so hit up the Black Oak Brewery Guided Tasting at the Only Cafe ($10). Ken and Adrian from Black Oak will lead the tasting, while the Double Chocolate Cherry Stout will be the guest tap. All the Black Oak beers are great and the Ken/Adrian duo never disappoints.
Or perhaps you like hitting up multiple sausagefests on the same night. No, that is not a typo. The Cloak and Dagger has Sausagefest – ten different sausages, all-you-can-eat and a 12oz beer ($12). Beau’s will be featured, probably because they make lots of delicious lagers. Continue your sausagefest pub crawl at Burger Bar for Sausagefest With Flying Monkeys. The Flying Monkeys Netherworld and Smash Bomb will be paired with two sausages, plus sauerkraut ($20).
Wednesday: If you missed out on the BrewDog dinner, don’t miss the Bart Towel Lost Abbey Tasting at beerbistro tonight. Hosted by Cass Enright from the Bar Towel, this features six hard to find beers from the Lost Abbey family ($25). Brewer Matt Tweedy will lead the tasting. This will be one of the great beer experiences of the week. Advance tickets available.
In a more low-key setting will be the One-Off Stand-Off at the Victory Cafe, where Beau’s and Nickel Brook will be brewing special beers for the evening. $20 gets you four samples and food, plus the privilege of trying these special brews. If you’re just looking to grab a pint, head to Smokeless Joe’s for the Muskoka Harvest Ale Tapping.
Thursday: Beer is not just for men and neither is Toronto Beer Week, so I fully support the Toronto Beer Week Ladies Night. Begins at 7pm and starts with Duggan’s Brewery, moves to beerbistro at 8:15pm and ends at Trevor Kitchen and Bar around 9:30. Dudes are obviously welcome too, but it’s nice to see an event that won’t be a sausagefest (wordplay!).
The hop heads will be found at Bryden’s Tower of Power, featuring the Great Lakes My Bitterer Wife, Black Oak 10 Bitter Years and Flying Monkeys Smash Bomb IPA. No need to brush your teeth after this one – your plaque and enamel will be striped bare.
Friday: The events really start piling up on the weekend and it is all but a guarantee that you will miss out on a great event somewhere in the city. But wherever you are, the likelihood of running into a Great Lakes cask is high. There is the Cask Night at the TRANZAC, featuring multiple Great Lakes casks, a Mystery Cask Unveiled at Highway 61 (a Great Lakes Belgian dubbel – the mystery is what it will be named) and a Cask Tapping of the Great Lakes Johnny Simcoe American Pale Ale at the Gladstone (comes with or without cheese plate. More cheese Gromit!).
barVolo saved their big events for the weekend, beginning with the Collaboration Cask Night. Four barVolo/Biergotter casks will be released, so expect the place to be packed with people eager to see how the first of many volo brews turn out (hypothesis: amazing). Should be starting around 10pm after the crowd moves up from C’est What.
Saturday: Ah, the weekend. Time to rest and cover from a weeks worth of events? Hells no! It is time to start drinking during the daytime! The Great Lakes Harvest Fest starts at noon with casks of their Pumpkin Ale and new peach beer, alongside sausages and pies. Then head to the CASK! Social at Bryden’s for (you guessed it) more casks. Great Lakes Miami Dunkelweiss, Beau’s Matt’s Gose and the Muskoka Dark Chocolate Ale are new offerings sure to please while the tasty Granite Best Bitter Special will round things out.
Heading into the evening, the C’est What Fall Festival of Craft Beers is great for anyone looking to try lots of beers, no matter if you’re an aficionado or amateur. Most samples are $1 and approximately forty beers will be available. The Fall Fest is a great event, so make sure you head by on the Friday or Saturday. Be warned: it is usually fairly busy, but predicting how the crowd will be during TBW is tough.
Or maybe you’re feeling remorseful at this point about missing out on a bunch of other great beer dinners. Don’t be sad as there are still some left, including the 6 Course Dinner With Beers from Duggan’s Brewery at Trevor Kitchen and Bar ($79). Trevor Kitchen and Bar are a dark horse this week, but could come out as the newest beer destination after the week is over.
A barVolo recommendation once again, this time for the Les Trois Mousquetaires Launch Party. Eight beers will be available from an up and coming, underappreciated Quebec brewery. Even more impressive, Les Trois Mousquetaires mainly brew beers that fall into lager styles, traditionally less favoured than ales by the beer geek community. Also the second weekend in a row that volo brings in an amazing Quebec brewer.
Sunday: By now you may feel the need to get some exercise, so sign up for the Toronto Beer Quest. Travel throughout the city, solve clues and learn beer history and have fights with your partner that would shame the contestants of The Amazing Race ($30 earlybird/$40). Prizes await you at the end. And beer!
Running on Saturday and Sunday is the Black Creek Historic Brewery Brews Fest where you can sample some authentically reproduced 1800s ales alongside beers from around the province. Tutored tastings, beer pairings and more events. Prices vary, full details on the Brews Fest website.
Close out the week with a hearty meal at the Monk’s Table and their Fullers Brewery Roast Trio with Aonghus Kealy. A traditional roast will be paired with three Fullers beer, which sounds like an amazing and natural combination in my mind and will no doubt be perfectly executed by the Monk’s Table. Call (416) 920-9074 for reservations and prices.
Monday September 27th: Continue supporting the wonderful bars and breweries of Toronto.