I must admit that up until a week or so ago, I wasn’t overly excited for this year’s edition of Toronto Beer Week. Aside from a few gems, the line-up of confirmed events was a bit underwhelming, with many key venues and breweries missing from the list completely.
But then the week leading up to Friday’s kick-off saw a deluge of new listings added, and suddenly number of events that I was planning on checking out grew so quickly that I’ve got myself booked for at least one event every evening from now until next weekend. And while daily updates/recaps are unlikely, I’ll do my best to getting something written up a couple of times during the week, starting with this review of how the opening weekend played out for me.
Given my past record, I suppose I shouldâ€™ve known better than to think Iâ€™d able to keep up a next-day diary during all of Toronto Beer Week. It went well enough for day 1, but then â€“ well, itâ€™s now two and a half weeks later, and Iâ€™m just getting to day 2. Hardly seems worth it given that everyone else has finished writing about the whole week and have moved on to other things, but Iâ€™m not gonna let all the goddamn photos and notes I took go to waste!
The most anticipated event for TBW for many folks was the BrewDog Brewery dinner at beerbistro, with co-founder James Watt flying in from Scotland to host. (He’s the sly looking fellow on the right in the photo above, next to me in the middle, and Josh Rubin – beer writer for the Toronto Star – on the left. Photo courtesy of Stephen Gardiner.)
I imagine that anyone bothering to read this blog already knows about BrewDogâ€™s reputation for pushing the envelope of brewing and marketing with their super-strong beers, cheeky promo videos and media baiting. And itâ€™s hardly news that you can always expect something pretty great from a dinner at beerbistro. So letâ€™s skip the background and get straight to the proceedings…
I feel it only proper that any city-wide beer festival should be kicked off with a ceremonial cask-tapping, preferably by a political figure of some sort. And apparently the organizers of Toronto Beer Week agree with me, as they put together a trade and media launch of the event yesterday at Mill Street Brewpub, with Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, MPP Steve Peters, doing the cask-tapping honours at 11:00 AM.
This is hardly the first time that Peters has been involved in a beer-related event. In fact, he’s a long-time fan and supporter of craft beer, and in his role as the Speaker, one of his initiatives has been an annual tasting at Queen’s Park to choose which Ontario craft beers will be served in the dining room and at catered events. So while his riding isn’t in Toronto, he was still a great choice to kick the week off.
It’s only a few hours old, but I already feel like I haven’t written enough about Toronto Beer Week. Loads of other folks – like Jordan, like Stephen, and Jordan, and Troy, and Jordan, and Chris, and, uh, Jordan – were all over it well in advance, which has given me a bit of the ol’ blog guilt.
In order to assuage that guilt somewhat, I’m going to attempt to post a daily TBW diary this week, which will likely consist mainly of photos and a couple of paragraphs posted each day as a recap of the day before. Or that’s the plan, anyway. And I’ll likely be doing plenty of tweeting, as will many other folks.
To kick it off, here are some highlights from the TBW pre-party of sorts that took place this weekend, when the folks from Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! came in from Montreal for a few events to mark their recent brewery feature at the LCBO.