I’ve been pregnant for too many Toronto Beer Weeks in the last few years, so I’m especially excited to be empty-wombed for this one. Now I can fill up my belly with beer! This year my #TBW2015 itinerary includes WVRST’s Craft Invitational, The Golden Tap Awards and Zwanze Day.
Still deciding what events to hit on September 18th to the 25th? We got the goods from the man himself — Troy Burtch — co-founder of Toronto’s weeklong brew-lovefest. Read on for Troy’s tips on what to check out at this year’s Beer Week, why Beer Weeks are still relevant, and his predictions for the future.
With so many beer events happening in the city all the time, are beer weeks are irrelevant?
We like to compare Toronto Beer Week to that of a police highway safety blitz during long weekends. The police are out there everyday stopping drivers for highway traffic act offences, yet launch safety campaigns during high traffic periods. It creates a broad public awareness. This is what we do at TBW. Yes, there are many, many great beer events in the city all the time, but TBW brings that all together for a period of 9 days to highlight our wonderful craft beer scene. TBW packs everything into 9 days. Everything from beer dinners, pub crawls, tap takeovers, meet the brewer events, scavenger hunts, and boat cruises—there are events for all types of beer drinkers.
How did Toronto Beer Week start, and how has the beer scene has grown since then?
It’s been unreal. Six years ago a bunch of like-minded craft beer drinkers sat around a table and planned the first TBW. We attracted 46 bars and restaurants and 18 breweries. TBW2014 saw 76 bars and 30 breweries participate! And TBW2015 is shaping up to be huge again. In the last six years we’ve noticed a tremendous growth in Toronto, from new craft beer bars to craft breweries. New restaurants are opening with a focus on local beers and the public are all too willing to experiment with new styles and flavours. The educational component of craft beer in Toronto has also skyrocketed. People are more and more educated about the brewing scene.
What can we expect from this year’s Toronto Beer Week?
Lots. The participating bars and breweries are currently working on ideas for exciting events, which will be announced shortly. The Toronto Craft Brew Cruise will take place exactly one week before TBW kicks off to get people in the right mindset for the week. Some bars will be opening at 10 a.m. and closing at 4 a.m. again thanks to the City of Toronto declaring TBW an Event of Municipal Significance. The Beer Experience Festival will once again act as our Grand Opening party, where we will debut the official TBW2015 beer brewed by Amsterdam. It is a 10% Bourbon Barrel-Aged Rye Porter and it will be heading to the LCBO for the week. It’s going to be an exciting 9 days for beer drinkers.
What are your top beer trend predictions in the coming years?
In terms of beer styles, I think we’ll start seeing a lot more unfiltered pilsners in the market alongside sour beers. When it comes to beer in general, I believe the educational component will continue to increase, allowing people to make better choices when making purchasing decisions. We all know about the grocery store model that is currently being sorted out…that will be huge for craft breweries moving forward and will increase the market share for independent local breweries overnight (once rolled out).
What breweries have you been enjoying this summer?
Always a very tough question. There are many. I love what Iain McOustra and his brewing team at Amsterdam Brewery are doing. Their Testify is great. The craft breweries here in Ontario are doing some great things these days, from the newer breweries like Left Field and Shillow Beer Co. to older ones like Wellington and Steam Whistle. Beer drinkers have never had it so good and it’s only getting better.
Last but not least, where would we find you on a night out for a few brews?
Again, there are too many to name. I’ve always loved Bryden’s on Bloor. It used to be my second office by in my TAPS Media days. From the beer selection to the food to the atmosphere and other patrons, it’s a great spot. I live on the Danforth, so I frequent bars along the strip often. Bars like The Wren, Morgans on Danforth, Sauce, The Only Cafe, etc. Love them all. I’m always experiencing new places to drink fresh beer in the city and it’s exciting times.
What are you most excited to get your hands on at Toronto Beer Week this year? Tweet us your thoughts at @CrystalLuxmore.