Win Tickets to Mill Street Oktoberfest

65-emdOur friends at Mill Street Brewery are having a number of special Oktoberfest-themed events at their Beer Hall, and we’ve got a contest to give away two free tickets to their Oktoberfest Party on October 17th!

The Oktoberfest Party on the 17th at the Beer Hall will feature beers from Mill Street, along with nine other Ontario craft brewers including Beau’s, Great Lakes, Wellington, Lake of Bays, Muskoka, Flying Monkeys, Cameron’s and Nickel Brook.  The party runs from 6pm – 2am and tickets cost $39.95 a piece – but you could win two!  All you have to do is follow us on Twitter and tweet to @bartowel telling us your favourite Mill Street brew, along with the hashtag #OKTcontest.  On October 16th we’ll randomly draw a winner and you’ll receive two tickets compliments of Mill Street.

You can buy tickets to the event, along with learn more about Mill Street’s Brewmaster’s Dinner on October 16th and Oktoberfest menu on the 18th and 19th at the Mill Street Oktoberfest website.  Good luck in the contest and we’ll see you at the Beer Hall during Oktoberfest!


Cask Days 2013

Cask Days 2013 Poster

Canada’s Largest Annual Cask-Conditioned Craft Beer Festival Returns for its 9th Year

Evergreen Brickworks October 19th – October 20th, 2013.

Cask Days has evolved into one of the most coveted craft beer events in North America. Along with featuring over 200 cask-conditioned ales from over 100 Canadian microbreweries, highlighted this year at Evergreen Brickworks will be 36 beers from the United Kingdom, the International Brewery Feature… the roots of “real ale”

As a major contributor to the Ontario craft beer community, the family behind Toronto mainstay barVolo, have taken Cask Days and elevated the beer drinking experience, spearheading one of the largest festivals of its kind. Cask Days 2013 will host over 4000 people over 2 days. From beer introduction & education to promoting a community-focused beer drinking lifestyle, Cask Days offers premium one-of-a-kind brews alongside a standout line-up of beer-focused workshops, art, music, food pairings and one-on-ones with brewers on site.

Buy Tickets  //  Cask Days Website  //  Follow On Twitter  //  Facebook Page  //  Promo Video


Toronto Beer Week Back on Tap Tonight

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 11.19.00 AMToronto Beer Week, a week-long celebration of craft beer in the city, kicks off its fourth edition tonight with a preview event at the Premium Beer Experience at the Berkeley Church on Queen Street East.

The Bar Towel is a proud partner of Toronto Beer Week, having been involved with the event since its inception.  Toronto Beer Week has grown to include dozens of breweries, bars and importers from Toronto and beyond, with a dizzying array of beer events across the city.

If you’re a serious craft beer fan, or just starting to try out new brews, there will be an event for you.  Please take a look at the extensive Event Calendar to see what’s happening around town during the week.

The Bar Towel is also hosting a few events throughout the week – on Sunday we are having a special Brewer’s Backyard at the Brick Works entitled Septembière, exclusively with Quebec beer.  On Wednesday we are handing out the hardware from the 11th annual Golden Tap Awards at beerbistro, with an all-Ontario craft beer festival. We have also helped out Tallboys with a new event entitled the CANpionship.  And yours truly is a judge for Beer Academy’s Beer Cocktail Competition on Monday night.

There’s lots to experience, drink, taste and enjoy during Toronto Beer Week. Don’t miss it!


Toronto Bourbon Week Coming on September 27th

TBW1OK, this isn’t exclusively about beer, but The Bar Towel is also behind a new initiative in the city, Toronto Bourbon Week.  This is Toronto’s first week-long celebration dedicated to bourbon, with seven events taking place over seven days, at seven different locations around the city, some of which having a beer tie-in.  Toronto Bourbon Week will run from September 27th until October 3rd.

Toronto Bourbon Week has officially announced two of their seven events, with tickets available now.  On Friday, September 27th Toronto Bourbon Week will launch with Fingers and Bones at the Indie Alehouse, an event which pairs bourbon (“fingers”) with ribs (“bones”), with some of their house beer to boot.  And on Sunday, September 29th, Acadia Restaurant will be hosting the Bourbon Brunch, a family-style brunch paired with two exclusive in-house barrel-aged bourbon cocktails.

The remaining five events will be formally announced in the coming days, along with ticket information.  But in the meantime, get your tickets to these events if they are appealing, and mark your calendars for the rest of Toronto Bourbon Week!


Brewery Market Returns to Ottawa on August 25th

934717_10151781047319448_1106952608_nThe Brewery Market is making its return to Ottawa this weekend, with another event taking place at Parkdale Park on Sunday, August 25th.

This time around the Brewery Market will feature brewers Beau’s,Big RigTurtle Island and Nickel Brook.  Beau’s will be pouring Lug TreadNight Marzen and their new Spruce Moose.  Big Rig will be pouring their GoldDouble IPAHefeweizen and Rasberry Ale. Newcomers to the scene Turtle Island will have SMASH Cherry AleDark Honey Brown and a special cask. And finally Nickel Brook will be serving their Naughty NeighbourHeadstock IPABolshevik BastardSaison and (possibly) Berliner Weisse.  They may even have an extra-special treat that would debut at the Brewery Market, but we’ll have to wait and see if it’s ready in time!

As always there will be some delicious food to go along with all this beer - Absinthe Cafe and Murray Street will be teaming up and presenting a mouth-watering Burger Bar.

The Brewery Market runs from 12-8pm at Parkdale Park in Hintonburg.  Admission is free, and you can pay for food and beer at the event.  The event is family-friendly and all ages, and runs rain or shine.  And as always, proceeds from the Brewery Market go to support the great initiatives of the Ottawa Riverkeeper.  We hope to see you there!


Golden Tap Awards 2013 Voting Opens

GTA - logo - Colour-blueThe Golden Tap Awards, which has been recognizing beer achievements in Ontario since 2003, has launched voting for its 11th edition.

The Golden Tap Awards ask beer lovers from across the province to vote for their favourite beers, breweries, bars and brewpubs – with no nominees – whatever their favourite is can be their choice.

Voting takes place from now until September 10th, 2013 online at goldentap.com.  Winners will be announced at a special gala event at beerbistro on Wednesday, September 18th as a part of Toronto Beer Week.  The event will feature an all-Ontario craft beer festival, along with a special limited-access beer and food pairing experience.

The Golden Tap Awards are also proud to welcome the Ontario Craft Brewers as a presenting partner this year.

All details about the Golden Tap Awards including the history of the awards, past winners and event details can be found at goldentap.com.  Now go and vote for your favourites!


The Brewery Market Returns to Ottawa on July 7th

2013-06-26-12.46.22-2The Brewery Market returns to Ottawa after a successful debut last fall, on Sunday, July 7th at Parkdale Park in Hintonburg.

This marks the first of three Brewery Market events in Ottawa this summer, this one entitled the Capital Mashup.  Tied to the Toronto Brewer’s Backyard of the same name, the event will feature exclusive collaborations between three breweries in Ottawa and Toronto.

As already posted, the three collaborations include a Cranberry Saison (Great Lakes and Cassel), a Lemon Wheat Pale Ale (Amsterdam and Broadhead) and Golden Devil Belgian Ale (Indie Alehouse and Beyond the Pale).

The Brewery Market will also feature other beers from Cassel, Broadhead and Beyond the Pale alongside the collaborations.  Beyond the Pale will have Pink Fuzz, Rye Guy IPA, Hop on Your Face, Imperial Porter and The Darkness on tap, along with casks of Pink Fuzz, Rye Guy and Hop on Your Face.  Cassel will have Golden Rails Honey Brown, Hopper Car IPA and White Fog Witbier.  Broadheadwill have a selection of their regular brews, so some of Underdog Pale, Wildcard Ale, Dark Horse Stout, Grindstone Amber, Long Shot White and Backbone Standard.

As you’re getting ready for the event, give a read to some exclusive interviews from the collaboration breweries on Ottawa Beer EventsBroadhead, Cassel and Beyond the Pale.

The Brewery Market runs from 12-8pm at Parkdale Park on Sunday, July 7th in Ottawa.  Admission is free and you can purchase tickets at the event for food and beer.  The event is all ages, and proceeds go to support Ottawa Riverkeeper.  We hope to see you then!


The First Capital Mashup coming on Canada Day

TBB - Capital MashupThe next of our Brewer’s Backyard series of beer tasting events is taking place this holiday Monday, Canada Day, July 1st at the Evergreen Brick Works.

This event is a special one, as for the first time there will be exclusive collaboration beers between three breweries from Toronto and Ottawa, to celebrate the great beer scenes happening across the province.

Great Lakes collaborated with Cassel, and their result is a Cranberry Saison.  Indie Alehouse did a brew with Beyond the Pale, and they did up a Belgian Golden Ale.  And finally Amsterdam and Broadhead got together and brewed up a Wheat Pale Ale with Lemon.  All three beers will debut at the Brewer’s Backyard on July 1st, and be served again on July 7th at the Brewery Market in Ottawa.

Along with the collaborations, each brewer will feature a number of their other brands in their respective home city.  The Brewer’s Backyard will also feature food from Kanga Meat Pies, Indie Alehouse and Sweet Sammies.

The Capital Mashup runs from 12-4pm in the Koerner Gardens and Holcim Gallery areas of the Evergreen Brick Works.  Admission is free, and you can buy tickets for food and beer at the event.  The event will accept cash, Visa, MasterCard and debit, and runs rain or shine.  There are extremely limited quantities of the collaboration beers, so be sure to get there early if you’d like to try some!


Crannóg Ales & Left Fields Farm

crannog1I spent the last weekend camping at the Shuswap Lake Provincial Park, which was the perfect opportunity to finally check out Crannóg Ales. When they opened in 2000, they were Canada’s first Certified Organic farmhouse microbrewery. The farm and brewery are integrated so well that they produce almost zero waste. The spent grain is used to feed the livestock and also provide compost for the hop yard and gardens. You may have heard of a 100 mile diet, but Crannóg has hosted a 100 foot feast!
crannog3The surrounding gardens support ladybugs, which love to dine on any pesty aphids!

Some homebrewers may be familiar with their Left Fields Hop Store. They ONLY sell rhizomes. I ordered them when I bought my first home in Toronto, and I’ve acquired many more here in BC. If you’re interested in growing hops, be sure to get your order in early as they always sell out.
Inside the brewery you’ll find an eclectic mix of old dairy and brewing equipment. Most impressive is the 12 Hectolitre system which was purchased from John Mitchell (originally installed in Canada’s first modern brewpub, Horseshoe Bay Brewing in 1982).

Their brews are only available by draft, growler or party pig. No bottles or cans. If the brewery grew much bigger, it would probably out-grow the farm.

Greg gave us an excellent tour which finished in their tiny tasting room. I’d say it’s maybe 150 square feet, but one of the coolest little spaces that I’ve ever seen.

A fresh sample of their Back Hand of God Stout was a treat. I’d say this is my favourite dry stout, with Granite’s being a close second.

The Gail’s Blood Potato Ale is an interesting take on an Irish Red. I swear I can taste the potato skins, though I have the benefit of knowing what’s in it. I think it’s very drinkable (I’ve ordered a second pint at a local restaurant).

The Insurrection IPA is an old school American IPA, dry-hopped with Cascades. At 5.4%, some might consider it a session IPA by today’s standards.

This was my first taste of the Bogtrotter Brown Ale, so I went home with a growler. It had a some pleasant cocoa and roasted nut, with just a hint of sweetness showing through the gentile bitterness. Nice hopping on the finish.

Their seasonal brew is a Sahti, which I tasted fresh from the conditioning tank. They used Juniper berries without any hops. I was surprised by the balanced sweetness and body of this tasty brew. Very well crafted.

If you’re ever traveling through Sorrento on the Trans-Canada, I’d certainly recommend booking a Tour & Tasting.



Queen Victoria’s Secret Featuring Canadian Brewery of the Year

QVS2013On holiday Monday, May 20th, the Brewer’s Backyard is hosting Queen Victoria’s Secret, a special beer and food tasting event where the specifics of the menu are revealed only at the start of the day.  Queen Victoria’s Secret marks the first anniversary of the Brewer’s Backyard, as it kicked off the event series last year at the Evergreen Brick Works.

This year, the Queen Victoria’s Secret will feature four breweries who will all be revealing their offerings at the start of the event: Great Lakes, Granite, Oast House and Left Field.  Last night, Great Lakes won the Brewery of the Year at the Canadian Brewing Awards in Victoria, B.C., so the event promised to have some pretty tasty brews this time around.  The event will also have food from FeasTO.

Queen Victoria’s Secret runs from 12-4pm at the Koerner Gardens and Holcim Gallery areas of the Evergreen Brick Works.  Admission is free, and tickets for food and beer can be purchased at the event.