A Diatribe Against Toronto’s Festival of Beer

Dear readers,

I apologize if this is reaching you too late and you have already forked out for a ticket to the Festival of Beer. Two of the three days are sold out, so it’s possible. (If you have, maybe this will give you reason to sell your ticket on Craigslist or to that co-worker you don’t like.) You may see tweets on Friday and Saturday that will cause you to debate buying a ticket for Sunday. I’m here to talk you off that ledge.

This festival is worst beer event this city has to offer. I’ve gone the past two years (see my posts for 2012 and 2011) and declined a free media ticket this year because it just wasn’t worth my time and energy. Some people will complain about the obnoxious drunkards, the crowds and/or the frat boys – those are all things I could live with if I was drinking some nice beer and enjoying myself. But that hasn’t happened in two years, so I’ve disregarded the usual articles that make claims that this year will somehow magically be better.

Most of the beer will not be new if you regularly go to bars or have other festivals lined up this summer. A night at one of the cities finer drinking establishments will get you a much better value for money. Tokens are only sold in packs of twenty, which means you have to really commit to drinking lots of beer (or using some on food). Add that $20 on to the ticket price and you’ve already spent $60. Drink somewhere else and you’ll likely hear better music than whatever 90s nostalgia acts the festival has found under a rock.

Maybe you’re itching to try out some beers from the Great Lakes Caskapalooza section. I’m a huge fan of 99% of what Great Lakes does, but this is the 1% that makes me pull out my hair. The beers are often less than stellar, possibly because the casks are sitting out in the July heat. (Presumably there are hidden ice packs, but don’t forget that these are probably delivered the day of and that will mess with the condition of the beer.) The final insult are the rent-a-girls that Great Lakes hires for the weekend. Beer is clearly not their specialty.

Chances are, dear reader, that you will not be attending the Festival of Beer (unless you are one of those media guys also getting a free pass). You have made a wise choice. Here’s a gold star.

If you’re looking for a beer festival, I recommend the far superior Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival. $10 gets you into Saturday and Sunday. All OCB beers, plus some food trucks. Much nicer vibe and still outside. A little easier by public transportation. Thank me later.

Your cantankerous beer blogger,

Mike Warner

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4 responses to “A Diatribe Against Toronto’s Festival of Beer

  1. I’ll let you know how it goes on Sat. 🙂

  2. I’ll be going on Sunday as part of a panel, and it will be my first time there so I’ll see how it goes. I haven’t heard good things, but will be leaving that to my own judgement.

    As an aside, I really wasn’t impressed that, when I asked for a media pass, I was told that in order to get one it was required that a pre-event post be written with the promise of a post-event one be written after. That…left a bad taste in my mouth.

  3. Last year I was quite offended by the rent-a-girls in the Great Lakes pavilion, I don’t see this type of thing in their branding elsewhere and it was jarring and ridiculous. I agree it’s an expensive festival but if I was young and single, this would be a very good place to party and pick up — not so much to seek out rare beers or meet brewers etc. but most of the audience is there for the former reason, not the latter. Hence the rent-a-girls.

  4. Pingback: Toronto Festival of Beer | The Thirsty Wench

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