It’s party time, people. Toronto’s Festival of Beer presented by the Beer Store is this weekend! For those that don’t know, the Toronto Beer Fest takes place July 26-29 at Bandshell Park, Exhibition Place, featuring over 400 (!!!) beers from about 100 brewers. I went for the first time last year, and it was such a boozy, kid-free blast, that I’m going again this year (this time, though, as invited media). It’s almost sold out now, too. With that said, if you are planning on attending, lemme give you some quick pointers, so you don’t make the same rookie mistakes that I did.
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT BEER
The festival also features some stellar musical acts, too, performing on the OLG Bandshell Stage! Last year, my buddy and I copped tickets super early (like January early) to save a few bucks. We picked them for Saturday, without realizing that each day would have different headlining performers. It turned out that Canadian rock legends Sloan were the main act that Saturday. While cool, the headliners on the Friday, Method Man and Redman, were more up my alley, musically, and I was kicking myself for selecting Saturday tickets. Oh well. Live and learn. Here’s this year’s lineup (I’ll be there Friday):
Thursday, July 26:
- Broken Social Scene
- The Rural Alberta Advantage
- The Darcys
Friday, July 27
Saturday, July 28
- Dwayne Gretzky
Sunday, July 29
- Finger Eleven
- I Mother Earth
It’s all about tokens at the festival, as that’s the currency. You buy them at booths (credit cards are accepted there), or from people are walking around selling them. There were ATMs on site, but these usually had lineups at them. So, to maximize your drinking time (and save on the ATM fees), be sure to bring money, because it’s easier.
THEM MUG SHOTS, THOUGH
With your ticket comes a little commemorative mug, which you use to get your drank on. In general, one token costs a buck, which should get you about half a mug’s worth of beer. Some places will charge more for a pour, though, so keep an eye out for each place’s rates.
I pity the fool (word to Mr. T) that tries to booze it up on an empty stomach. While you can’t bring outside food, the festival is promoting its “culinary experience” this year. Some of Toronto’s most popular restaurants will be there, to happily take your money, so you can get your grub on, including La Palma, Campagnolo, Fidel Gastro’s, Tiny Tom Donuts, Queen Margherita Pizza, Smoke’s Poutinerie, South St. Burger, Jerk Brothers, Ted’s World Famous BBQ, Ted’s Beer Dogs, Heirloom Toronto, ONO Poké Bar, Melt Grilled Cheese, Ontario Corn Roasters, Oyster Boy, Hot Bunzz Street Cuizine, and Brando’s Fried Chicken.
ENJOY SOME NON-ALCOHOLIC, FREE REFRESHING H20
You can’t bring your own water, but luckily, a lot places had cold bottled water available. Be sure to take advantage. Even better, you don’t have to sing like Justin Bieber on a Major Lazer track to get it for free!
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE BEST SERVED COLD
I totally screwed up that cliche, but you get the idea. Like I said, the festival is sold out, so there’s going to be a lot of people. Last year, we went pretty early on the Saturday, and, while the line to get in moved decently enough…..it was still a really long line. I can only imagine what is was like later in the day. So chill, Bill. Toronto Beer Fest is a crowded event. Expect lines for everything, but try to make the best of it. We’re all in the same boat.
SLOW YOUR ROLL, HOMEY
I know, I know. The natural inclination, as soon as you enter the festival, is to blow all your tokens at the first few booths you see. And to that I say, slow down, son. Pace yourself. You paid good money for your ticket, so there’s no need to get escorted out by the cops for being a drunken idiot an hour after you get there. The festival covers a lot of area. Take your time and explore. You never know what might find, that will tickle your fancy.
Have fun and be merry this weekend the Toronto Beer Fest. Cheers!