The scene last Sunday on the grounds of Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto was a perfect blend of gorgeous summer sunshine, fantastic Indie music, delicious gourmet food and of course, fabulous beer selections from over 20 of the best craft brewers in Ontario. It was day 2 of the 3rd annual Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival and among the best festival of its kind.
High praise goes to the festival organizers for creating a truly enjoyable, hassle-free atmosphere completely unlike the red tape, lineup clogged events that many Toronto festivals, regardless of size, suffer from. There was plenty of room to stroll around, friendly staff, grassy hills where you could sit, eat, sip beer, people watch or just lay back and enjoy the live music playing throughout the day.
Working on a simple “token for a beer” swap system, visitors could elect to receive a half (1 token) or full (2 tokens) mug of beer from a plethora of brewers, although it became apparent early on that the brewery representatives were very generous on the taps and seldom did a single token amount to less than three quarters of a glass anyway. At a dollar a token, the value was phenomenal.
The air was filled with the mouth-watering smell of food all day. Smoky BBQ delights, mini donuts made before your eyes, gourmet cheeses, over-loaded nachos, pulled pork or bacon poutine and fire-cooked corn were just a few of the food choices on offer from the food trucks on site. With all the available options, the festival could have spanned a week with something different and delicious to try each day.
Choosing a favourite beer was a huge challenge; there really wasn’t a bad beer in the bunch, but at the end of the day, the brew that stood out above the rest was Lion Grass by Highlander Brew Company, a sublime blend of organic lemongrass and dandelion leaf with Cascade hops. Special mentions go to Mill Street’s 100th Meridian beer, which with any luck will not be a limited offering, and the always fresh, always crisp and always delicious Steam Whistle, a beer that is perfect on a hot summer day.
Finally, despite excellent performances from all the Indie acts of the day, the musical highlight was London Ontario’s Texas King, who delivered a great set of energetic rock and roll that was a perfect match to the fun vibe of the festival. Between songs, front man Jordan MacDonald’s light hearted stage banter had people laughing and the rest of the band had them rocking along when they launched into the next tune. If you haven’t seen them, don’t miss Texas King this Friday night when they play The Hideout.