As a member of The Scrib family, I was asked to venture into Toronto for what appeared to be an amusement park specifically tailored for adults. Known as Toronto’s Festival Of Beer, this multi-day event – located on the grounds of Exhibition Place – featured live music (Salt N’ Peppa and Big Wreck!), several tents where you can get some adequate munchies, a giant version of Connect 4 that was consistently occupied by ticket holders, and of course, plenty of beer. A veritable who’s who of beer manufacturers had set up set up shop for the 4-day event, so I decided to take one for the team and head down.
Somewhat surprisingly, the beer fest experience didn’t feature rowdy members of local sororities drinking out of glass boots; rather, all patrons were chugging their drink of choice out of a small glass mug, the main “utensil” found at this carnival of dreams. (For the beer fest virgins out there: the cost of replacing this very important mug was a staggering 20 bucks, so every ticket holder was incongruously cautious.)
Not surprisingly, numerous models were scattered around the festival, with several handing out flyers to promote the upcoming Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis film, Campaign, while others posed for pictures with the public at certain booths sponsored by specific brands.
As a means of proving that drunk people can find anything interesting, an animal handler showed off his pet hawk to an inebriated yet interested audience, some of whom openly worried that the predator would swoop in and snatch one of their drinks.
There were numerous activities available for ticket holders, though none of them drew my eye as much as the giant Connect 4 that was set up at one end of the Exhibition Place grounds, where skilled players, novices, and even a police officer challenged each other in this simple yet intellectual game. Right beside that war zone was what appeared to be Jenga on steroids: several blocks stacked into a pile that measured up to about 5 feet in height, just daring buzzed onlookers to give it a shot. I knew that my natural clumsiness, along with the alcohol that I had ingested, would not be a wise match for the strategic building block game, so I walked away, knowing that it was not a good idea.
If any of you were wondering about what the majority of the people were wearing, it was mainly the average pub wearer’s outfit: T-shirts and jeans/shorts/jorts. Noticeably lacking was the volume of plaid that I expected to see, but then I remembered that many Bootlegger stores across Ontario have recently closed down.
Overall, it was a memorable experience. Bands, booze, music, Emilio Estevez (Ok, I may have imagined Mr. Mighty Duck ). It all meshed into what can best be described as your typical Friday night on the town, but amplified ten times. The overall mood was jovial, with no awkward arguments or sloppy fights (though the abundance of security that was patrolling the premises may have kept the usual trouble-brewers at bay), but there’s one thing that I know for sure: I truly feel sorry for the cleanup crew of this multi-day event.
Continue to Page 2 for my favourite 10 beers of the event.