More accurately, someone stopped me - my friend Mel, affectionately called the Toronto Craft Beer Queen (only by me, to be sure, but I suspect it's nice to have even one loyal servant in your Royal Court.) Having attended on the opening night, February 19, I read some disheartening news from Mel on the Saturday morning, both on Facebook and Instagram.
"The Winter Brewfest was actually a huge rip-off. Tokens were $1 each, which sounded reasonable at first but a 4-ounce sample equaled three to five tokens and an 8-ounce sample equaled six to 10 tokens?! Way too expensive for sampling beers in my opinion. Might as well gone to BarVolo (a popular downtown Toronto craft bar.) Kegs were tapped out too early in the night, which worries me about the Saturday folks (Note: I would have been one of those - yikes!) and line-ups were very long, due to what looked like a shortage of volunteers. Never again!" Mel was also the first person to post on the Brewfest's Facebook Review page, giving it a one-out-of-five with that same review.
|So here's what $5 got you at the Toronto Winter|
Brewfest - 4-ounces (118 ml) of beer. Not feeling
the love there, organizers. Hell, a 20-ounce pint
at Rib Eye Jack's Ale House runs about $7 to $8.
From Jessica: "This is, by far, the worst beer festival I've ever attended. Brewfest was a huge money-grab, not worth it and I will definitely not be attending it in the future nor will I recommend it to others."
From Nicola: "The volunteers knew nothing about beer and some didn't even know the names. We had to tell them which brewery made it and what beer it was to help them find the tap!"
From Shealyn: "(The servers) seems equally uncomfortble with the price of the samples and didn't even look you in the eye. I spent my $20 worth (of tokens) and called it a night." Suffice it to say, Shealyn walked out stone cold sober.
Said Brett: "Contrary to the canned organizers' response, no, the prices are *NOT* on par with any of the other beer festivals in Toronto."
So since all of these people, as well as Mel and myself, have been to presumably many Beer Festivals over the years, allow me to explain to the Winter Brewfest organizers how these things usually work. One token gets you a half-pour (see the photo on the left with the Smashbomb Atomic IPA in it). Two tokens gets you a full pour. Except here's the thing. Most craft breweries consider the pour line to be a vague suggestion and usually just keep going - for one token. The same Nicola quoted above noted a few breweries such as Great Lakes Brewing, Beau's All Natural Brewing, High Park Brewing and Collingwood Brewing were somewhat free and easy with their pouring hands but at the other booths, manned by volunteers, "we didn't even get a full 4-ounce measure. We added up that we had 45 tokens (costing $45) and we got 2.88 pints! Not even three full pints for our money!"
But perhaps my favourite organizer response was to Brett, also quoted above, after his beef with the excessive pricing at the event, as well as a sizeable handful of other issues.
|Are these nice ladies enjoying their night at Toronto|
Winter BeerFest? Well, actually, no - this was taken
from an ad for the Festival prior to the actual event.
Or did they? You see, they held the same beer festival in Ottawa's Lansdowne Park exactly one week prior. Wonder if that Ottawa event had a Review page on Facebook? Well, lookee, lookee, it does! And how were those reviews, as well as others on social media after the Ottawa Beer Fests? Yeah, the organizers got creamed on those, as well, for all the same reasons! Now, of course, they claim they will learn from their 2016 mistakes this time next year - you know, the old "It was our inaugural year and all. We were going to make mistakes. Mea culpa. Off to kiss the Pope's ring." And as a regular Beer Fest attendee (though thankfully not this one), I do want to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Except for this - they didn't even learn their mistakes from one weekend to the next one? But so you know, we in Toronto (and the surrounding area) aren't the only ones this sort of thing happens too. It happens everywhere.
|As a mea culpa to Neil Miller, who received a Toronto|
Maple Leaf jersey from me last Summer, here's my
apology for our season thus far. A pretty lady chugging
a stein of German wheat beer. Sorry, that's all I got...