Wrap-up and thanks – Toronto Beer Week

Without a doubt, as I sat in Volo this past spring and first met John Bowden, I thought this idea he was on about, a whole week of beer-events around Toronto, was a great idea.  There is no doubt, we are living in a city with a bursting craft-beer scene.  There are brewers and publicans who are passionate about their craft, and committed to widen it’s reach.  There are importers who have been struggling for years to improve the beer selection for beer drinkers in Ontario.  There are supporters who are ready to throw their weight and influence (small or large as it may be) behind a well-executed event that could help change the beer landscape in our fair province.  In short, there is plenty of support.

So if you had asked me on September 19th, what my predictions were about Toronto Beer Week, I would have said something along the lines of “It should be great, lots of good events at good venues.  I can’t wait!”.  In retrospect, my sentiments would have missed the mark by a decent margin.

The first ever Toronto Beer Week was nothing short of incredible.

I only went to events Monday through Thursday, but I massively enjoyed all of them.  I was continually impressed by the creativity and excellence that marked each event, from the Ceremonial Cask Tapping at Mill Street Brewpub with Steve Peters, to hanging out with my friends at the Black Oak Night at Volo.

Ceremonial Cask-tapping

Steve Peters lets the beer flow for Toronto's first beer week.

It would be fair to say I’ve got some experience in bars and pubs around Toronto. I’ve met numerous publicans who demonstrate exceptional hospitality, but it seemed as if everybody upped the ante for TBW.  It was nearly obscene.  From big fancy places with big names attached, to small local places that I had never been to, every bar felt as welcoming and homey as tea at your Granny’s.  Each landlord adding their own particular flair and spirit to the events they hosted.

Oysters and vodka, Starfish Oyster bed and Grill

A pair of Paddy's finest

Far and away, though, some of my favourite memories was meeting new people and making new friends, as well as hanging out with old hands.  From world-class brewers to fans of this blog, not a night went by without meeting at least a handful of beer fans, who were also having an excellent time.  I met young beer drinkers and old beer drinkers.  People who love hops, and people who love malt.  People who remember when Upper Canada was a craft-brewer, and people who just had their first non-macro sip.  People who have made the strongest beer in the world, and people who make the best seasonal in Toronto.  At the end of the day (or week, I guess),   Toronto Beer Week was as much about promoting craft beer in Toronto, as it was about looking around and realising:  we are a minority, perhaps, but a growing one.  One that is actually starting to impact sales numbers and marketing campaigns.  One that is willing to join together and make other people notice.  One that wants to share our passion.  (Cue some form of patriotic beer music).

And all this because a group of people realized we didn’t have a proper celebration of beer-culture in Toronto, and we needed one.  So my thanks go out to the Toronto Beer Week crew.  I would name names, but know I would miss somebody.  Suffice to say, it was by your effort and on your backs that Toronto Beer Week went off, and went off with such a bang.  And I am so thankful to you all.  I am thankful to the publicans, brewers, and importers who jumped on board to ensure that TBW would be more then a success, it would be a massive hit.  These people are the ones leading the charge in Toronto.  These are the places to go when you want a decent pint of beer in our city.  Buy beer from them often; you won’t be disappointed.

And of course, I would like to thank the global “you”.  You are why anybody cares to make and serve good beer.  Why anybody would spend time creating and promoting an event to increase beer-culture in Toronto.  And if none of you had come out, these events would have failed.  So thanks.  Thanks for caring about what you drink and where you drink it.  Thanks for supporting great beer in Toronto.  I can’t wait to see more and more of you becoming regular faces at my haunts around the city.  See you all for Cask Days 2010 at Volo!

James Watt and Chris Schryer

Possibly the height of my TBW

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