Monday, February 17, 2014

Nothing Like a Festival to Bring Me Back

I know: I've been negligent.

It's been more than five weeks since my last review and I've kept a low key over the weeks when it's come to beer. I haven't been at any beer-related events in more than six weeks, have only been at my regular haunt a couple of times since the holidays. I haven't even been in an LCBO yet this year.

But I'm back, and this week I plan to review a couple of brews.

And, this weekend, I attended the second WinterBrewed festival.

This year, the event was held indoors, for which I'm sure many of the vendors were thankful. No frozen lines, no shivering behind the counters, and no one complaining that they couldn't taste the beer because it was too damned cold!

It was great to see some new craft breweries that have joined the growing community: Sawdust City, Turtle Island, Junction, Perth, Covered Bridge, and Whitewater. I enjoyed meeting the new brewers and tasting their creations. Most notably, I enjoyed the Bridge Over the River Chai, a beautifully spiced brown ale, the rich Black Velvet Lager, the mind-blowing On Her Majesty's Imperial Stout, and (my personal favourite) a smoky Oatmeal Stout that I will be reviewing in full later this week.

Some unusual but enjoyable stouts came from Sawdust City: a peanut-butter stout and a chocolate-almond biscotti stout. They delivered exactly what they advertised and I enjoyed the experience.

In addition to the new breweries, I was pleased to see some well-established breweries return: the two big breweries of our region, Beau's and Mill Street, plus Beyond The Pale, Cassel, Broadhead, Flying Monkeys, Muskoka, and Amsterdam. I enjoyed the return of Beau's vanilla porter (again, a review is forthcoming), loved a bourbon-barrel-aged Imperial IPA, and a kick-ass brown.

But I also noticed that some local breweries were missing: most notably, Ashton Brewing Company. And where was Big Rig? Where was McAuslan?

As it was, the Fifth Avenue Court was packed with vendors and beer lovers, and there was lots to enjoy. If you didn't get a chance to come out this weekend, you have to add the beer festivals of the National Capital to your must-do list in the future.

As the photographer of the event, I took so many photos of the event that it will take me a while to get through them all. You can see more of them, on Wednesday, at The Brown Knowser. I will also be creating a Flickr photo album, where you can see many, many more.

Thanks to everyone who stopped to chat with me, to the breweries that shared their wonderful brews, and for the great conversations.


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