Cask Days 2011 – Start Planning

Cask Days 2011 Logo

Oh yes.....

Cask Days is coming.  Specifically, it’s Sunday October 30th.  That should be enough.  If you’ve been to Cask Days before hit up  and get your tickets. I’ll see you there.

Okay, I realize that a lot of you might not be familiar with Cask Days, so let me elaborate, though seriously consider just buying your tickets now: they’re going fast.  You can read my pitch once you’re done.

So, many of you will know that I am not alone in my reverential view of Bar Volo, on Yonge St, north of Wellesly.  To say that Ralph Morana and his bar are one of the most influential entities in the Ontario beer scene is an understatement indeed. From importing stellar beers through their own agency, Keep6 Imports, including getting some of those beers on the shelves at the LCBO, to starting their own brewery in the kitchen of the bar, Volo is right on the pulse of the beer heart-beat in Toronto.  Additionally, since 2005, they have played host to one of the most anticipated festivals in the province, namely, Cask Days.

For those of you who know the logistics of serving cask-conditioned ale, having a festival of just casks is a risky proposition.  When you realize that in recent years they have served over FORTY different casks, many of which they had multiple casks of, and you’re familiar with the size and shape of Volo, you start to wonder if Ralph made a deal out at a cross-roads…. Where does he get the stillages?

So for six years, participants have turned up (more often, lined up), paid a reasonable admission, then were able to buy sample tickets and try beers from all over the province (and recently further away) in cask-condition, many of the beers being one-offs made specifically for the event.  It goes without saying, that you can try beers that might never be made again.  Some of my standouts through the years included Black Oak’s Transvestite Tipple pineapple pale ale, Church-key’s Holy Smoke dry-hopped with Virgina tobacco, and the frighteningly good DDC Peche Mortel.

This year things are a little different.  As much as everybody liked getting totally rammed into Volo, cheek to jowl with your fellow beer drinkers, it was time for a change.  Sure, it’s fun finding yourself squished onto a 1 metre square space with Adrian Popowycz, Mike Lackey, Nick Pashley and Iain McOustra (this is a hell of an image, I assure you….), but I’m sure the volume was getting to be a bit much for the crew at Volo.  So it was time to find a bigger space.

Hart House at the University of Toronto

The surroundings look a bit different these days...

Thankfully, there was already a good space, available, and proven able at hosting beer festivals: Hart House.  The old recreation centre of U of T’s St. George campus has played host to a craft beer festival in it’s quadrangle for the past two summers.  Aside from being a building of remarkable Gothic architecture with a rich history, it also has plenty of space for beer-quaffing festival-goers.

With the additional space, this year we are going to have over 50 casks to choose from, from BC, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and England (you bet: Fullers on cask, or for Brits reading this “Fullers”). I aim to sample half that list.  And that will be a big effort.

So it is with no small amount of excitement that I will be heading to Hart House on October 30th for the evening session (there’s an afternoon one too).  Meet me there.  Or go to the earlier session.  Just go.  If you have even a passing interest in beer, go.  Seriously.  Just Go.

Get your tickets, and more info here:

Just go.


  1. Posted October 18, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    I can’t wait, I’ll be hitting the afternoon session so it looks like I won’t get to raise a glass with you. But I’ll back up the “just get a ticket” statement. If you have any interest in beer and you’re reading this, you aren’t likely to be disappointed!

  2. chris
    Posted October 24, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Rick! Hope you have a blast. I’m pretty excited about Bengal Lancer in a cask….

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