It’s a Canadian summer tradition – sharing a cold beer outside with a couple of good friends.
But instead of reaching for your usual brew, treat your taste buds to something local at some of the many craft beer festivals going on around the city this summer.
And what better way to kick off the summer than with Ontario Craft Beer Week.
The week-long festival, which starts June 13, celebrates the thriving locally-based craft beer industry and gives a taste of the kind of premium quality offered in Ontario craft beer.
The festival starts with Session Toronto, a two-day celebration of food, music and craft beer, which will take over Yonge-Dundas square.
“This craft beer industry is on the rise, obviously, but there’s a lot of people that still don’t know what’s going on,” Jed Corbeil, co-founder of Session Toronto, told CityNews. “They don’t know this wonderful thing that’s right on their doorstep. It’s local people making local beers and they’re right there in front of you.”
He says he feels the rise in popularity not only has to do with the quality of product being produced across the province but that it also feels good supporting local businesses.
“People love quality; quality’s timeless,” Corbiel explained. “When people understand that it’s brewed in small batches and it’s something that’s made locally…You want to support them because they’re real people.”
The event also includes Collaboration Nation where 30 craft brewers are teamed up with local artists and celebrities and compete for a listing in the LCBO.
“The people who won in 2013 were Beau’s All Natural Brewing company and Tom Green,” said Corbeil. “They sold, in the first four months, 60,000 bottles of this winning beer. It’s huge!”
But if you’re thinking beer festivals aren’t for everyone… think again.
Taking place on Canada Day, Brewers Backyard, at the Evergreen Brick Works, is an event for all ages.
“We like to refer to it as a farmers market for craft beer,” explained founder Cass Enright. “It’s held during the day, it’s very casual and relaxed vibe. We like having everyone come out to it – from the kids to parents to grandma and grandpa.”
Brewers Backyard showcases different craft brewers and food vendors from around the province. The proceeds for the event go to Evergreen, a community environmental centre.
“It’s great to see new business open up and create new products for consumers and beers that Torontonians can be proud of coming from the city,” said Enright. “Great homegrown products that are getting attention all across the province.”
Another staple of the summer is the Toronto Festival of Beers which returns to Bandshell Park at Exhibition Place July 25 – 27. Try some of the over 300 brands at the festival, including Steam Whistle, Flying Monkey, Banks, Mad & Noisy, Triple Bogey and Junction Craft Brewing. The world beer pavilion which will feature beer from a host town, region or country each year.
And what’s a festival without great music? K-OS, The Trews and Matthew Good will each headline a night on the main stage.
The three-day event not only showcases some of the best independent breweries in Ontario but offers guided tours and VIP packages for an extra charge.
Also make sure to check out the Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival Aug. 9 and 10. The outdoor festival, which is in its third year, encourages a relaxing environment – a picnic blanket, good beer, good food and good conversation.