Top Toronto Beer Festivals

Make a habit of drinking during the day and people will look at you like you’re an alcoholic. The exception: Do it on a Saturday in the summer and they’ll think you’re festive. Take advantage while you can. If you haven’t noticed lately, Toronto is in the midst of an all-out love affair with beer; local, craft, international — if it has suds and tastes good under the sun, we’ll drink it. Here are some chances to indulge at local beer festivals, this season and beyond.

Hart House Craft Beer Festival

Think of the Hart House Craft Beer Festival as the hip, sophisticated version of the more corporate beer festivals Toronto offers. Eschewing Molson & Labatt for more local small-batch offerings from brewers like Mill Street, Beau’s and the brand-new Kensington Brewery, this single-day festival transforms University of Toronto’s stately Hart House quad into a beer snob’s dream. If that’s not enough of a hook, Executive Chef Marco Tucci’s BBQ card offers more ways to eat pork than you could ever imagine. July 28, 7 Hart House Circle, $30 – $35.

Queer Beer Festival
Just in case you want to decry Toronto’s Festival of Beer’s reputation for bringing out the frat types, this year they’ve launched the Queer Beer Festival. The rainbow extension of TFoB’s main festival (which starts the next day), this event features over 120 brands, a grilling tent and queer-friendly entertainment, including the apparently still existent Ace of Base. August 4, Bandshell Park, Exhibition Place, $38.50.

Toronto’s Festival of Beer
The main event for Hogtown beer drinkers: Toronto’s Festival of Beer has a reputation for bringing out the big brands that you don’t really need a festival to enjoy (they’re on tap at every bar in the city), but it actually runs the gamut from smaller craft brews to the big boys. It also features “brand experience areas” — including Great Lakes Caskapalooza, a Red Stripe DJ party, and Carlsberg Human Foosball — that go well beyond the simple fill-up-your-sample-cup norm. Add in some performances from bands like Dragonette and The Sheepdogs, and you have yourself a festival. August 5 to August 7, Toronto’s Festival of Beer, Bandshell Park, Exhibition Place.

Toronto Beer Week
Not much has been revealed yet about this week-long, bar-spanning event, but they have set aside the time and promised something big. Toronto Beer Week is collectively owned by people in the beer industry, from brewers to pub-owners; with that much expertise on hand, you can expect some truly authentic, discerning beer-nerd-friendly events, hopefully city-wide. Stay tuned, and thirsty. September 16 to September 24.

Image courtesy of Danielle Scott.

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