Well, when I say elements, I mean actual elements. As in rain. However, this year, we got off a lot easier. Whereas last summer, it rained through the entire Saturday - the cash cow day for brewers at any Beer Fest - this year, we got this crazy monsoon-level rain burst for about 30 minutes on Sunday.
Oh, it didn't stop any of us... well, for more than a half hour, anyway. Actually, come to think of it, it didn't stop me at all. Seeking shelter in one of the tents at the park's west end, I waited it out for maybe 10 minutes before finally saying, "Oh screw the rain" and walking through the torrential downpour across to the Cameron's Brewing tent 30 feet in front of me and filling up on their delicious award-winning White Oat Savant Brown Ale.
|Hey, I'm sure Beer Festival was fun, too, but hey, did|
YOURS get a special visit from the Dark Knight
himself? Yeah, didn't think so. Batman did find a
moment to stop fighting crime to hang around with
the servers at Barrie's Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery
But I'll deal with Sunday, Muddy Sunday in tomorrow's blog as once again, I find myself beginning at the end. I was there all three days so let's start at the beginning, shall we?
Friday was actually the nicest day in one regard. Because it was mostly a night-time run (4 to 11 pm), the weather was much more bearable. Saturday and Sunday brought the heat big-time. Even with the breeze off Lake Ontario, it was like Africa-hot down at the park. That said, any Canadian who complains about the heat should get a 10-minute and game misconduct penalty, given what we will be facing in a short few months.
But I was barely there when I crossed paths with Festival co-organizer Wayne Brown.
That said, the always-genial Wayne went out of his way to introduce me to some of the city's chief big-wigs throughout the event. Among them were:
|And speaking of Dynamic Duos, how about Wayne Brown and|
Scott Robinson who once again pulled off the greatest Summer
Beer Festival in all of Southern Ontario? Okay, so I'm bias...
And while they were all really great to meet, no one was moreso than Wayne's wife, Christine. I had a chance to chat with her and she enthusiastically told me about a Craft Beer and Food Pairing six-week program coming to Oakville's Liaison College in a few months. Using a master chef, who I also met (with his bushy beard, he bore a strong resemblance to many of the craft brewers on hand), the program will pair three different styles of beer with three different types of food. I plan on attending this course because, frankly, every style of beer I've ever enjoyed has been paired with only two food groups - the cheeseburger and pizza.
|This lovely young lady at the Samuel Adams|
booth holds up my beer of choice from the
Boston brewery, their Rebel IPA. Mmmm...
But every year, I find new discoveries at the Burlington Beer Festival. Last summer, it was Turtle Island Brewing out of Ottawa, helmed by beer goddess Trish Watson and her bomb-blast Ixcacao Triple Chocolate Stout, Maclean's Ales out of tiny Hanover, Ontario and their outstanding Pale Ale (they have an India Pale Ale on the market now that I am searching out) and Side Launch Brewing out of Collingwood with their delicious dunkel Dark Lager.
At the Winter version of the Burlington Beer Festival, it was Bayside Brewing out of blink-and-you'll-miss-it Erieau, Ontario, who nicely surprised me with their smooth Brown Ale. not to mention Trish once again who melded her Ixcacao with melted butter for the ultimate Winter treat.
Okay, before I go any further, allow me to explain why this is such a bold and perhaps dangerous move. With their inherent hoppiness, IPAs are a real roll of the dice because not all beer drinkers can handle it. Less than 10% of craft beer drinkers, probably - though count me among that 10%. But with my first sip, I understood their strategy. All hops on the nose, the taste went in a different direction altogether. "Wow," I marvelled, "that has a strong malt backbone to it!!" What the trio has created is the best British-West Coast malt-and-hop hybrid IPA I have ever tasted in my life. A few other breweries have tried - for instance, Junction Craft Brewing's Conductor IPA - but this is the best by far. I mean, these guys killed it, then resurrected it and then destroyed it again, using Thor's hammer! Blew me away! I cannot wait for September when (fingers crossed) this 6.5%, 69 IBU (international bitterness units) bad boy made by these bad boys will be in the LCBO.
|Hey, it ain't a Beer Fest unless my home-boys from Nickel|
Brook Brewing are there, wowing the thirsty throngs!!
Okay, that's enough for this time around but like I said, I'll be back tomorrow with Round #2 which includes everything else. Which Sawdust City Brewing beer did Rob from Nickel Brook steer me toward? How did that Coaster War between Longslice and Cool Brewery get started? And what are their connection? Who did Rib Eye Jack's Ale House's head honcho Steve and I meet from Whitby's Brock Street Brewing while out having a smoke? Why was "Where's Kylie?" the most asked question of Saturday? What hilarious, foolhardy but ultimately brave act did the server from the Shiny Apple Cider commit during Sunday's monsoon? What happened when we hooked up with my man Brian Will, the territory manager from North American Craft who actually puts all those tasty Double Trouble Brewing beers in my Beer Store? Who was the uber-cool marching bagpipe band who strolled through the grounds on Sunday? What happened with my golf bag? And why am I asking all these teaser questions one day before I write the story? Well, that's simply so I'll remember what to write. Trick of the trade. Oh yeah and Christine's food-and-beer pairing course, here's the link to the college right: HERE! But guys and dolls, until tomorrow, that's it, that's all and I am outta here!!! Until then, I remain, as always...