Way back in August*, we were happy to attend what was a first for our city (and possibly our province): an entire week devoted to celebrating local microbreweries and their products! I’d heard about this event in the spring, after seeing a postcard at the brewery next to my work, and after attending both a cask ale tasting (delicious!) and the big weekend festival (more delicious!), I definitely hope it becomes a yearly event!
* I am seriously behind in reporting this. For reals. But hey, isn’t it nice to reminisce about summer?
We had a gorgeous afternoon for it — oh, those already-missed days of endless sunlight! — and although this was its first year, the Festival was quite well attended!
Once inside, we lost no time chatting to the friendly craft brewers and buying libations. Overall, both The Boy and Dan seemed most partial to Cassel‘s cream ale — we’ll have to make it a new stop on the next roadtrip to Montreal! While I enjoyed their beer, my favourite of the festival was Ashton‘s Harvest Brown. Not sure which Maria‘s favourite was — you’ll have to chime in, if you can still remember : )
It being approximately Poutine O’Clock, we also checked out the food vendors. Although I don’t regret my poutine, I would definitely try some of the other foodstuffs next year — they had a really great line-up! The Boy (who came back for the Sunday) reported fire-roasted corn, dipped in your choice of either melted butter or molten bacon fat — for only two tickets! There were also a number of smoked meat offerings, some savoury pies and probably some more booths I didn’t look closely enough into. I will definitely be paying more attention next year…
Happily, I did find one snacky food that (almost) makes up for the lack of corn: flavoured nuts! These were amazing — I had the applewood smoked pecans (the boys’ favourite), and the spicy chocolate ones (the girls’ favourite). Sooo good!
Aside from tasty snackety foods — and beer, obviously — the booths also sold art, including some awesome strange paintings of pigs and cows. (It looks like they kind of floated oil paint in water, and then had the pattern transferred to paper. Very cool.) I considered buying one to celebrate The Boy’s continuing study of the craft of charcuterie (more on that in another post), but the piggies were apparently not his style.
As the evening wended on, I’m happy to report that the band got a little quieter. (I know, you’d think it’d be the other way around right?) For some reason, a really loud punk-esque band had been scheduled for the late afternoon. I like punk, but not when I’m trying to eat and chat with friends. It kind of clashed with the mellow vibe of the venue. The evening band was a much better match.
One of the things I really appreciated was that all of the craft breweries (well, with the exception of one really big one which shall remain nameless, but which had a giant orb over its booth…) really seemed to be at the festival to get their beers tasted. Yes, samples cost tickets, but the cost was reasonable and the folks were very friendly, and happy to talk about their product. Swag was readily available, and in general, the brewers seemed to have fun being there. I especially liked the Flying Monkeys booth (although it seems I’m not a huge fan of their brews; too hoppy for me) as it was — much like their beer packaging — all crazy colours and scribbley chalk boards. (I tried to take pictures of their booth, but it was always full! Instead, you get a sticker.)
As we headed out, I asked The Boy to take a picture of the giant cask, not knowing we were apparently on the wrong side of it!
Overall, the event was awesome: fantastic weather, really good food, a nice selection of craft breweries. The event was small enough that you actually got a chance to taste… well. Probably not every beer (and cider! there was one cider from King!) featured, but at least a goodly selection. I would say it was very possible to sample from every brewery present, for sure.
Hopefully we’ll see it again next year!