Posts in Beer Events

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Golden Tap Awards 2017 Announced

September 21st, 2017 Posted by Beer Events, Feature, Golden Tap Awards No Comment yet

Yesterday at a gala event at beerbistro, the 2017 Golden Tap Awards were announced. The Golden Tap Awards are Ontario’s most democratic beer awards event, with all winners determined by public vote. The winners were as follows:

  • Best brewery: Beau’s All Natural
  • Best bar for draught beer selection: Bar Hop
  • Best bar for bottled and/or canned beer selection: Birreria Volo
  • Best brewpub or tied house: Bellwoods Brewery
  • Best regularly-produced craft beer: Beau’s Lug Tread
  • Best seasonal, limited release or specialty craft beer: Great Lakes Octopus Wants to Fight!
  • Best craft cidery: West Avenue
  • Best Beer Design and Branding: Collective Arts
  • Most Innovative Brewery: Bellwoods Brewery
  • Best Newcomer (Bar): Arabella Park
  • Best Newcomer (Brewery): Merit Brewing
  • Best Event: Cask Days
  • Best Staff: Beau’s All Natural
  • Best Beer Writer: Ben Johnson
  • Brewmaster’s Choice: Tooth and Nail Vim and Vigor
  • Best Beer of the Festival: 555 Brewing Footprint
  • Editor’s Circle Award: Ontario Beverage Network
  • Editor’s Circle Award: Half Hours on Earth
  • Editor’s Circle Award: Craft Beer Passport
  • Editor’s Circle Award: Funkfest

Congratulations to all the winners!

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Toronto Beer Week Begins Tomorrow!

September 14th, 2017 Posted by Beer Awards, Beer Events, Feature, Golden Tap Awards No Comment yet

Toronto Beer Week, a 10 day celebration of beer in the city, begins its 2017 edition tomorrow, September 15th. With 200+ events across 60+ venues and 30+ breweries, it truly is an amazing way to experience “The Best Beer City in Canada”.

The Bar Towel (a founding member of Toronto Beer Week), is thrilled to be a part of a number of events during Toronto Beer Week:

Beer Writers Debate & Discussion: Sunday, September 17th. Starting at 3pm at C’est What, I’ll be a part of a panel of local beer writers (including Jordan St. John, David Ort, Robin LeBlanc, Thomas Gilbert and Crystal Luxmore) in debating the meaning of Craft Beer, discussing crap vs. craft, and gazing into the crystal ball to determination the path of Ontario’s beer future.

I&G_Roundel_Logo_2017_CMYK (1)The Science of Flavour with Innis & Gunn Founder and Master Brewer Dougal Gunn Sharp: Tuesday, September 19th. In this Q&A we will chat with Innis & Gunn’s Founder and Master Brewer to get a sneak preview of some of Innis & Gunn’s newest beer innovations before they arrive in Ontario and hear from on his brewing journey, the “happy accident” that led to Innis & Gunn Original and the inspiration behind the flavours in their beers. Tickets are $10, but as a reader of The Bar Towel you get a chance to enter a contest to win tickets! Simply email your name to innisandgunn@bartowel.com and we will draw three winners who will receive a pair of tickets each.

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Golden Tap Awards: Wednesday, September 20th. The Golden Tap Awards returns for its 15th year in recognizing the best in beer in Ontario’s most democratic beer awards event. We will hand out the awards at an all-Ontario beer festival at beerbistro, where all tap lines will be turned over for one night only. Participating breweries include Great Lakes, Shillow, Collective Arts, Nickel Brook, Junction, Indie Alehouse, Tooth & Nail, Bellwoods, Folly, Exchange Brewery, Bench, Beau’s, Left Field, Halo, Side Launch, Granite, Cheshire Valley, Spearhead, Katalyst, 4 Degrees, Merit, Shawn & Ed, Halcyon Barrel House, Cowbell, County Canteen and more! Admission is free and no tickets are required to attend. Doors open at 5pm and the awards show begins at 8pm.

We’ll also be floating around at many of the other great events taking place during Toronto Beer Week. Looking forward to see you in Canada’s Best Beer City!

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Golden Tap Awards 2016 Voting Launches

August 23rd, 2016 Posted by Beer Events, Feature, Golden Tap Awards 1 comment

The Golden Tap Awards, Ontario’s most democratic beer awards event, has launched its voting for 2016.  Now in its fourteenth year, the Golden Tap Awards recognize the best in beer and cider in Ontario, across breweries, beers, brewpubs, cideries, bars and more. All voting is determined by the beer loving general public.

Awards will be handed out in the following categories at a gala event at beerbistro in Toronto on Thursday, September 22nd as a part of Toronto Beer Week:

  • Best craft brewery in Ontario
  • Best bar in Ontario for draught beer selection
  • Best bar in Ontario for bottled and/or canned beer selection
  • Best brewpub or tied house in Ontario
  • Best regularly-produced craft beer in Ontario
  • Best seasonal, limited release or specialty craft beer in Ontario
  • Best craft cidery in Ontario
  • Design Award: For the best packaging design, label artwork and branding in Ontario
  • Innovation Award: For pushing the boundaries of craft brewing the furthest in Ontario
  • Newcomer Award (Bar): For the best craft beer bar or restaurant that is new to Ontario
  • Newcomer Award (Brewery): For the best craft brewery or brewpub that is new to Ontario
  • Event Award: For the best beer event that took place in the past year in Ontario
  • Staff Award: For the best (most beer-knowledgeable, friendly) staff in Ontario
  • Beer Writer Award: For the best beer writer (print, digital or other) in Ontario
  • Brewmaster’s Choice: For the best beer in Ontario, as decided by the craft brewers themselves

The Awards event will feature an all-Ontario craft beer festival, with all of beerbistro’s tap lines and a bottle station exclusively serving Ontario beers.  Admission to the Golden Tap Awards is free and no tickets are required.  Please vote for your favourites now and we hope to see you at the awards ceremony!

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Lester P. Beerson Celebrates Canada Day

June 29th, 2016 Posted by Beer Events, Feature No Comment yet

BBY_July_v1The Brewer’s Backyard returns on Canada Day, Friday, July 1st with Lester P. Beerson Day, a celebration of Canada, great beer and delicious food at Toronto’s most open beer festival.

At the Evergreen Brick Works the event will feature breweries Great Lakes BreweryHenderson BrewingPitschfork BrewingDurhamRailway City Brewing and Brimstone Brewing, alongside food from Kanga Meat PiesFood Dudes, Urban Carnivore, Fidel Gastro’s and The Pop Stand.

Lester P. Beerson Day runs from 12pm-5pm on Friday, July 1st at the Koerner Gardens and CRH Gallery areas of the Evergreen Brick Works.  The Brewer’s Backyard is Toronto’s most open beer festival: admission is free, it is all-ages, family-friendly and all are welcomed.  Beer and food is available for individual purchase at the event. Please note that our last beer sales is at 4:30pm and last beer poured is at 4:45pm.

Please note that for the summer the Evergreen shuttle bus pickup and drop off has relocated to Chester Station.  The TTC Bayview South bus from Davisville Station runs seven days a week.

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Crack into a Homebrew in Baltimore

June 8th, 2016 Posted by Beer Events, Feature, On The Road Reports No Comment yet

The Bar Towel is proud to present our annual preview of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) National Homebrewers Conference, now known as Homebrew Con, taking place from June 9th to 11th, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. This article will cover highlights of the conference as well as recommended beer destinations in Baltimore. The photo above is courtesy Visit Baltimore.

Baltimore is a city that you’re probably quite familiar with, but perhaps one you don’t know a great detail about.  You surely know it as a port city, located on the east coast of the U.S., a harbour town on the Patapsco River, which connects to the Chesapeake Bay and onto the Atlantic Ocean.  You likely know that people here love Maryland Blue Crabs from those waters, amongst other great foods, from both sea and land.  You probably know that the famous show The Wire was set in Baltimore, and potentially that the equally famous film The Silence of the Lambs was too.  You likely know a bit about Baltimore’s sports history, such as being the hometown of baseball legend Babe Ruth, the career home team for Hall of Famer and Toronto Blue Jay nemesis Cal Ripken, or the only U.S. city to win the CFL’s Grey Cup.  You might know about its famous residents including writer Edgar Allan Poe or filmmaker John Waters.  And you possibly know that the Star Spangled Banner flag was created here (in a brewery no less), and that the anthem was written here thanks to inspiration from the aforementioned flag.

While you’re most certainly familiar with these interesting facts about Baltimore, something you might not be familiar with is the city’s beer scene.  But for homebrewers in North America, that’s about to change.

Baltimore is the host city for this year’s National Homebrewers Conference, organized by the American Homebrewers Association from June 9th to 11th.  Similar to its sister event the Craft Brewers Conference, the Homebrew Con (as it’s now nicknamed, although the National Homebrewers Conference remains an official name) is the largest of its kind in North America, attracting amateur brewers to mingle, learn and more importantly taste beers made right in the homes of the continent by some of the most passionate beer people out there.

Baltimore at night. Photo courtesy Visit Baltimore.

Baltimore at night. Photo courtesy Visit Baltimore.

The Homebrew Con returns to Baltimore for the first time since 2005 (it also hosted in 1995), but demonstrating the growth of the conference, it is being held this year at the Baltimore Convention Center versus at a hotel like previous years in other cities.  But similar to previous years, the conference is acts not only gathering of homebrewers, but a showcase for a local beer scene.  Although Baltimore may not spring to mind as one of the top beer cities in the U.S., the Homebrew Con does a nice job of showcasing some of the smaller markets in the country, as in recent years Bellevue, Washington, Cincinnati, Ohio and Grand Rapids, Michigan amongst others have played host.

Let’s start with the conference and then we’ll talk about the beer scene in Baltimore.  The conference itself is comprised of education, competition and sociability.  There is the National Homebrew Competition, a large scale event whereby the finalists are judged at the conference, and announced during the Grand Banquet and Awards Ceremony to close out the weekend.  Informative seminars line each day of the conference, hosted by both amateur and professional brewers alike.  Throughout each day there is the Homebrew Expo and Social Club, a trade show of sorts for brewing equipment and other homebrew gear and gadgets, paired with numerous beers from across the country.  And then there’s the evening events, including a professional brewer festival and Club Night, a homebrew gathering, drink-up and immersive beer entertainment experience that needs to be seen to be believed.

One of the most unique aspects of the Homebrew Con (at least to those familiar with the rigid rules of Ontario), is the presence of homebrew beer at the conference.  So not only can an attendee of Homebrew Con imbibe in the beers of the local professional brewers (and beyond), they can sample the efforts of fellow amateur brewers.  This gives the conference a true air of authenticity and celebration, as you can stand side-by-side with brewers from all levels of beer experience and enjoy some delicious concoctions.

I truly recommend everything at the Homebrew Con – if you’re a fan of beer and brewing you can’t go wrong with anything that’s happening.  But there’s a lot of seminars that take place during the conference, and it’s impossible to see everything.  So, herewith are my picks for the seminars of the conference worth checking out, ones that I find particularly interesting, and you might too.

Thursday, June 9th

  • 9:00am: 2016 State of the Homebrew Industry.  Brewers Association beer economist Bart Watson is a smart and knowledgeable fellow, and like his seminar of the same topic for the professional industry during the CBC, this one will be a great overview of what’s happening in the homebrew scene from a data analysis perspective.  Speaking alongside Bart will be Jake Keeler and Steve Parr from the AHA.
  • 2:00pm: How to Brew Like and All-Star.  Speakers Denny Conn and Drew Beechum are well-known in the homebrew scene, are a genuinely entertaining pair and definitely worth sitting in on their talk.  They reprise this seminar at 2pm on Saturday if you can’t make it for this one.
  • 5:00pm: Keynote Address. It is admirable to see so many well known professional brewers staying close to the amateur brewing community, passing on their knowledge and experience and keeping their street cred in tact.  In fact, I’ve noticed in the past more ‘celebrity’ professional brewers roaming about the Homebrew Con than the CBC itself.  To that end, this year’s Keynote Address is being delivered by someone who definitely embodies the ideal of staying close to the community, Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione.

Friday, June 10th

  • 10:15am: History of Baltimore Brewing.  You’re in Baltimore, so you might as well learn about the local beer scene outside of Colt 45 and Natty Boh.  Speaker Rob Kasper, longtime columnist for the Baltimore Sun and founding member of Baltimore Beer Week, will certainly have some interesting tales and stories.
  • 10:15am: Return of the Mead Panel.  Shout out to Canadian homebrewer Ryan Chaytor, who’s on this panel about mead alongside Ken Schramm, Curt Stock, Michael Fairbrother and Steve Platz.
  • 10:15am: Unlocking the Genetic Code of Brewing Strains.  Chris White is a smart dude.  He’s the founder of White Labs, where many homebrewers saw up close in San Diego at last year’s conference what they are all about, which is the ultra science behind beer.  Listen to him and learn.
  • 2:00pm: Homebrewing History: A Photographic Tour with Charlie.  If you say the name “Charlie” to any homebrewer who knows the difference between hops and malts, a last name won’t be necessary.  Charlie Papazian is a legend in the homebrewing scene and helped popularize it to a generation of brewers.  A walk down memory lane with him will certainly be entertaining and informative.
  • 2:00pm: Brewing up a Perfect Pairing: Research-Backed Food Pairing Principles.  Randy Mosher is well-known in the scene as a brewer and author, and alongside Pat Fahey this will certainly be a good session about beer and food pairing.

Saturday, June 11th

  • 10:15am: Modern Homebrew Recipes. Gordon Strong knows his stuff as president of BJCP, author and award-winning brewer.  If he’s got a recipe to share or a secret about how to do them right, I’d like to hear it.
  • 2:00pm: Wild Alaska, Wild Ingredients.  Alaska Brewing co-founder Geoff Larson presents a talk about the wild ingredients of Alaska and their usage in beer.  Although for most Canadians Alaska is quite a ways away, many of us can relate to the frozen tundra, so learning about how cold-weather goodies could be a part of beer would be good knowledge to have.
  • 2:00pm: Hoppy Sour Beers: Taking the Bitter of of IPA.  There’s a number of sour sessions this year (including ‘Launching a Communal Sours Program’, Saturday 10:15am; ‘A Timeline for Sour Beer: How to get the Flavors you Want, When you Want them’, Friday 2:00pm; and ‘Trouble-Free Tart Beers: Alternative Souring Methods’, Thursday 3:15pm) but this talk by Michael Tonsmeire about the growing hoppy sour style should be a good one.

Baltimore has a lot of neighbourhoods. Over 200 of them.  With a neighbourhood culture like Baltimore’s it’s worth doing some exploring, so let’s talk about some of the good beer places that you can take in some local flavour outside of the conference (see at the end of this article a map of all the spots referred to to help you navigate around).

Heavy Seas Alehouse. Picture courtesy Visit Baltimore.

Heavy Seas Alehouse. Photo courtesy Visit Baltimore.

The Homebrew Con itself is at the Baltimore Convention Center, which is right in the heart of the city, in the Inner Harbor and close to the waterfront.  Kitty-corner to the convention center is the Pratt Street Ale House, featuring house beers from Oliver Brewing (the longest running brewpub in Baltimore) alongside about a half-dozen guest taps.  For baseball and beer fans, nearby is Dempsey’s Brew Pub, named after the famous catcher of the Baltimore Orioles.  And just up on N Eataw St lies Alewife Baltimore, an impressive spot with nearly 40 craft beers on tap.

To the south of downtown is Federal Hill, where folks  of days past watched the bombs bursting in air.  You can find bars bursting with beer here, such as the dozen house-brewed beers and pizza at Pub Dog, and 20 draughts from the local region and beyond at tavern Brewer’s Cask.

Around the harbor leads to the historic, waterfront neighbourhood Fell’s Point, and the long-standing Baltimore beer institution Max’s Taphouse.  Max’s was here before everyone else (or so it seems to an outsider), and they still top them all.  With over 100 taps available, Max’s has a beast of a beer menu, and one hell of a draught lineup to celebrate the homebrewers this week.  Undoubtedly and deservedly so, Max’s will be a hotspot for Hawaiian shirt wearing homebrewers in the days to come.  Also worth checking out closeby is the well-known Heavy Seas Alehouse, featuring a wide range of house brewed beers.

A bit farther east in formerly-blue-collar-turned-condo neighbourhood of Canton is Of Love and Regret, a pub with 25 taps and the home of Stillwater Artisanal Ales.  Find a great collection of Stillwater and some other goodies here.  Nearby you could also check out the Baltimore Taphouse with about a dozen or so craft taps, and Mahaffey’s Pub with over 20 taps and a good skew towards local brews.

Union Craft Brewing. Picture courtesy Visit Baltimore.

Union Craft Brewing. Photo courtesy Visit Baltimore.

Head north through Mount Vernon and check out The Brewer’s Art, a brewpub with a large rotating selection of house-made beers, and onward further north and a bit west to the neighbourhoods of Hampden (hipsters!), Roosevelt Park and Woodberry for a cluster of interesting spots.  If you like reading while you drink, the indie Atomic Books has Eightbar in the back with craft beer available. Birroteca Baltimore focuses on pizza and craft beer, with 20+ taps available with good local representation. For some local brewery taproom action, check out Waverly Brewing with around eight brews going, and Union Craft Brewing with a range of their diverse lineup available.

The Homebrew Con is always a good time. I tell people that it’s the best money they will ever spend on a beer event, in part due to the sheer amount of styles, tastes and sampling that one can do at it.  But it’s also just a great down-to-earth celebration of beer, by some of the most passionate beer folks out there.  It’s friendly, often a little bit crazy, sometimes inappropriate, but always enjoyable.  Connect with us on Twitter and let’s have a homebrew this week!

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Join us at Torontoberfest on Thanksgiving Monday

October 10th, 2015 Posted by Beer Events, Feature No Comment yet

The Brewer’s Backyard returns for its final event of the season, Torontoberfest, on Thanksgiving Monday, October 12th at the Evergreen Brick Works.

Torontoberfest, the Brewer’s Backyard take on Oktoberfest, will feature some of the finest breweries in the province, including Beau’s All-NaturalJunctionGraniteBlack OakAmsterdamBig Rig and Rainhard.  Serving up delicious food will be WVRST, FeasTO the Midnight Snack Co.

Join us for some tasty brews, sausages and lots of oompah from 12-5pm on Thanksgiving Monday, October 12th at the Koerner Gardens and Holcim Gallery areas of the Evergreen Brick Works.  The event runs rain or shine, as the Holcim Gallery area is covered.  Admission is free and the event is family-friendly.  We hope to see you then!

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Toronto Beer Week Begins Tonight!

September 18th, 2015 Posted by Beer Events, Feature, Golden Tap Awards 1 comment

TBW_2015_White_Logo_250Toronto Beer Week, a nine-day celebration of craft beer in the city, officially begins tonight.  Featuring over 35 breweries and 75 bars, Toronto will be awash in delicious beer from today until September 26th.  There are over 125 events and counting coming up, including beer festivals, tap takeovers, beer dinners, pairings and more.

This year sees the debut of Six Boroughs, the official beer of Toronto Beer Week.  Six Boroughs is a bourbon barrel-aged rye porter, which will be available at select LCBOs across Toronto as well as at select events during the week.

You can pick up a free passport at participating venues, which includes a directory of the bars, breweries and restaurants of Toronto Beer Week, partner information and more.  Toronto Beer Week has received generous support from both Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mayor John Tory, signifying the stature that craft beer holds in the city and province today.

Select bars across Toronto have also received 4am liquor license extensions for Toronto Beer Week – find out more details on that in the passport on online, and at the venues themselves.

Happy Toronto Beer Week, and we hope to see you out at some great events!

The Bar Towel is a proud supporter of Toronto Beer Week.  The Bar Towel’s Golden Tap Awards will be taking place on Wednesday, September 23rd at beerbistro with over 25 breweries participating in an all-Ontario craft beer festival.

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Join us on Lester P. Beerson Day!

June 30th, 2015 Posted by Beer Events, Feature No Comment yet

The Brewer’s Backyard returns tomorrow with Lester P. Beerson Day. On this celebration of Canada Day we’ll be welcoming the tasty beers from Great Lakes (pouring Canuck Pale Ale, Limp Puppet Session IPA, Pompous Ass English Pale Ale and special collaboration below), Left Field (Prospect Single Hop IPA, Eephus Oatmeal Brown, Maris* Pale Ale, Sunlight Park Saison), Collective Arts (Rhyme & Reason, Saint of Circumstance, State of Mind Session IPA, Stranger than Fiction Porter), Steam Whistle (Unfiltered and Regular Pilsner), Oast House (Barn Raiser Country Ale, Red Barn Bitter ESB), Brimstone (Nutmare on Elm Street Nut Brown, Sinister Minister American IPA) and Railway City (Dead Elephant, Witty Traveler, Black Coal Stout), along with delicious eats from Kanga Meat Pies, DF Catering and the Midnight Snack Co.

We’ll also have a special beery treat, as we did an exclusive collaboration brew with Great Lakes – a raspberry ale brewed with cascade hops and wild yeast cultivated from an apple orchard in the Niagara Escarpment. It should be a delicious beer for Canada Day and it will be available in limited quantities only at the event.

Lester P. Beerson Day occurs on Canada Day, which this year falls on Wednesday, July 1st from 12pm-5pm at the Koerner Gardens and Holcim Gallery areas of the Evergreen Brick Works. As always, our events are free admission, are all-ages and family-friendly. There are limited quantities of beer and food so be sure to arrive early to get the best selection. We hope to see you there!

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Join us at Queen Victoria’s Secret on Holiday Monday

May 17th, 2015 Posted by Beer Events, Feature No Comment yet

The Brewer’s Backyard returns tomorrow with Queen Victoria’s Secret, our annual event on the Victoria Day holiday. As is tradition we don’t reveal the specific beer and food lineup until the event begins, but on offer will be tasty beer and cider from Sawdust City, West Avenue, Side Launch, Publican House, Silversmith and Muddy York, and food from Tilde Taco and Bunz.

One beer that we are excited to reveal is the follow-up to Balmoral’s Outrage, the collaboration brew we did last year with Sawdust City. This year’s edition, Balmoral’s Revenge, is a wine barrel-aged rye saison with angelic root, juniper berries, orange peel, lemon peel and coriander seed. It will be available in limited quantities tomorrow and you won’t want to miss this!

The Brewer’s Backyard runs from 12pm until 5pm in the Koerner Gardens and Holcim Gallery areas of the Evergreen Brick Works. The event is free admission, family-friendly and all ages. Tokens for beer and food can be purchased at the event.  We go rain or shine, and we’ll have a large tent over Koerner Gardens so we’ll be nicely covered. We hope to see you there!