If you, like me, was once a painfully shy girl who cringed at the thought of making new friends in a crowd of thousands of people, you will have no trouble finding plenty of new buddies at the Toronto Festival of Beer. I had a blast on Saturday with my friend Lisa (creator behind Confessions of a Dietitian) meandering through dozens of tents in search of the best tasting beers, talking to beer reps, not to mention finding some food to soak up all the booze.
It was early afternoon when we made it to the festival grounds and had to make sure it wasn’t Frosh week. There was dance music blaring, adults wearing custom-made hats designed from Steam Whistle beer cartons in various shapes like a pirate’s ship, a palm tree, and antlers. There were men with sparkly mardis gras beads around their necks and beer stickers all over their shirts and the ones who didn’t have stickers all over their shirts, donned clothing that had paid some sort of tribute to beer. It was wild and we loved it. Tickets to the festival were sold out on Saturday, so you can imagine how busy it was.After walking around, we found our way to Rock Lobster’s booth also known as the “Lobster Shack” and right next to them was a team representing one my of my favourite beers, Sam Adams. I’m no stranger to either; I've been to Rock Lobster a few times and could sit all day stuffing my face with fresh seafood. Sam Adams Boston Lager was one of the first beers I fell in love with since I began to appreciate the golden liquor, we go way back.
We ordered the Sam Adams Summer Ale and Latitude 48 IPA to try. I’ve had the summer ale before and love how easy it goes down, its crisp citrus flavor complements the lobster roll we ordered. The lobster meat was tender yet juicy, we couldn’t help making a mess on the table. The Latitude 48 IPA had a beautiful amber color and a hint of sweetness with a strong bitter finish, it contrasted the sweet lobster tacos nicely. I could have had 10 more tacos but I wanted to leave room to sample more beer. It’s a tough life.
We spent a good 4 hours at the festival, eating Porchetta and Co sandwiches stuffed with cracklings and homemade mustard plus roasted potatoes doused in lemon crème fraiche (amazing!!). We watched a food demo by Ted Reader who grilled a mean, thick steak that was age dried for 42 days. We also tried so many beers I lost count. Some memorable ones included the Raspberry Ale from Granville Island (another of my favourite breweries), the Fruli (on tap!!), and Melville’s ginger beer.
The best part of the festival aside from drinking was meeting fellow beer enthusiasts. I’m sure the constant consumption of liquid courage had something to do with it, but everyone was very friendly. We even met Matt Pettit of Rock Lobster! There was a group of guys dressed in their own cultural attire, including one dude who's been going to the festival for 10 years. One guy came all the way from Burlington too. There were a ton of beers to try, sadly, I didn’t get a chance to sample the watermelon cider I spotted. Guess I’ll have to go back again next year.
Big thanks to Toronto's Festival of Beer for the kind invite to attend and cover the event!