The annual Toronto Festival of Beer is taking place this weekend, from July 24-26 at Bandshell Park, Exhibition Place. As seasoned veterans of several seasons worth of Toronto’s Festival of Beer and assorted craft beer festivals, we have a few ideas for maximizing your enjoyment on the most glorious weekend of the year sponsored by The Beer Store. Tickets are still available for Sunday, but Friday and Saturday are sold out.
This year’s edition features a whole Irish pavilion presented by Tourism Ireland. We’re taking a little break from drinking mostly Ontario produced booze this weekend to sample some of Ireland’s finest beers. And we’re stoked – I went to Ireland in my early twenties and I have wonderfully blurry memories of a brewpub near Trinity College in Dublin, the Porterhouse Brewing Company.
But you need a plan of action when affronted with the magnitude of choices, so here’s the official Toronto Booze Hound plan:
1) Bring cash. ATM lineups are long and white label fees are gouging. Don’t waste precious beer drinking time standing in line like a shmo.
2) Bring your ID. The organizers are pretty hardcore about making sure you are of legal age. This is a 19+ event, so leave the wee ones and the puppy at home.
3) Check out a map of the venue once you’re there. You cannot possibly try all of the suds on offer, but at least you’ll be able to plan a smart route once you’re there. And there’s an app for that.
4) For the love of flying spaghetti monster, wear sunscreen and drink water. Passing out drunk with sunstroke at 4 p.m. is really uncool. Don’t be that guy. (Note: That guy is also known as Kole.)
5) Check out one of the beer-themed experiences. Prud’homme Beer Certification is hosting a series of workshops on beer cocktails, food pairing, and home brewing. They’re really fascinating. We sat in on a workshop on glassware a few years ago that really opened Kole’s eyes. The Society of Beer Drinking Ladies are hosting a walking tour of their favourite local brews, and these ladies know their stuff.
6) Eat something. Don’t get sloppy. See number 4.
7) If you prefer to drink macro beers (Coors, Molson Canadian, Labatt, etc) we won’t judge. There is usually pretty cool swag and prizes at the macro tents, but you won’t usually find really cool new products. If macros are more your style, make an effort to step outside of your comfort zone and try at least one new product. One. It won’t hurt you.
8) Leave the car at home. Most available parking in the area is also being used for the various events taking part in the Pan Am Games around Exhibition Place, so take the TTC or the Go Train, with its convenient stop at Exhibition Place. Take a cab or an Uber, or arrange for a designated driver. Don’t drink and drive.
9) Hand sanitizer. The port-a-potties get pretty rank towards the end of the evening. You’ll thank me.
10) Come say hi to us! We’ll be sporting our amazing Toronto Booze Hound shirts and we’d love to have a slurred conversation with you.
Shawna has visited vineyards in 6 countries on 3 continents, and has a knack for finding the hoppiest beers around.
She can be found drinking alka-seltzer and coconut water in the morning.