Saturday 23 June 2012

Session 99 Craft Beer Festival 2012

 Gord and I went to the Session 99 craft beer festival today.

It's the third year for it and the third year we've gone.  It's been in our 'hood the last two years which makes it very handy.

The first two years you bought a ticket for the festival (about $40 plus tax).  Once you got there, you bought sample tickets ($1 each) and redeemed them for beer samples and food.  It started at noon and went 'til 9 and you could stay as along as you wanted.

This year they broke it up into two sessions ... one from 1pm to 4pm and the other from 6pm to 9pm.  We bought tix for the afternoon session.  The cost was $40 (plus tax) and included all your beer and food samples ... there were supposed to be over 100 beer and five food vendors.  We were given a beer glass, ten beer sample tickets and a food card when we arrived.  If we ran out of beer tickets, we could go back for more (ten was enough for me).

There was already a line-up around the corner to get in just before 1pm but it moved quickly.

There was an indoor and an outdoor section.  There were quite a few people already there as it opened.

Gord's Beer of the Week this week is from Junction Craft Brewing so he had his first sample there.

Jen, Darlene, and Darlene's friends, Christine and Bruce, were there.  Darlene's been at the festival with us all three years and Jen's been there with us the last two years.  Here we are ...

I tried and liked Hogtown Brewer's kolsch.

Gord sampled some beer from HogsBack Brewing Company.

We ventured back outside.

I tried a Great Canadian Mancake ... a peanut butter cupcake with maple frosting and bacon.  With that combination, how could I not??  It was okay ... surprisingly nothing was really overpowering.

 BF Soul entertained outside ... they were good.

I'm not a much a fruity beer drinker but that seemed to be what I focused on today for some reason.  Here I am trying Stone Hammer's strawberry blonde beer.  It was good (too bad it wasn't colder).

I tried the watermelon beer from Augusta Brewing Company.  It was okay ... I wasn't overly crazy about it, though.

I noticed that Beau's Venskab was three tickets for a sample.  Must be good, right?  Plus I saw the word "champagne" in the description.  Turns out that I got the last sample for the first session (it wasn't a full sample so she didn't charge me).  Too bad I didn't discover it earlier because it was good.

We went back inside and I tried St. Ambroise's raspberry beer.  It was good.

 It was jammed inside ... but not too packed that we couldn't walk around.

Gord had a Smash Bomb IPA on cask which was extra hoppy from Flying Monkey which he loved.

Back outside, I tried Mill Street's blueberry wheat beer ... it was good.  Lucy was running their booth.  We'd met her a few years ago at beer event and run into her every now and then.  This blueberry beer was my favourite of the festival.

Kristian from Muskoka Brewery was chatting with Lucy.  Kristian remembered us from the festival three years ago ... their cream ale was my favourite at that festival.

We ran into Ken, the owner of Black Oak Brewing Company.

We'd eaten before we got there but I wanted to try a sample from the Burger Bar ... the burgers looked good!

Though the line-up was long, I lined up.  I gave up after about 15 minutes because it wasn't moving.  I went to the bathroom, got another beer sample, wandered around a bit and noticed the line-up STILL hadn't moved.  Crazy!

My last beer was a grape beer from Flying Monkey ... I wasn't too crazy about it.

The festival was a good time and I had fun.  I wasn't crazy about splitting it into sessions, though.  At 4pm, the security guys started herding everyone out.  I'd rather pay a ticket price and then buy as many sample tickets as I want and be able to stay as long as I want.  That's the way it worked the last two years.  I felt like I was always watching the time to make sure I sampled everything I wanted before time ran out ... kinda made it a bit too pressured.

It sounded like beer and food were included in the ticket price.  The beer ... yes.  The food ... not really.  The food card we were given allowed us two samples from each vendor ... but the vendors were counting one small sample as two.  Huh??  If you wanted any more, you had to pay for it.  Plus the line-ups, especially for the burger samples, were crazy.  There was no line-up at the pasta place so I tried it.  The sample was tiny and cold.  No wonder there was no line-up!  Good thing we ate before we went.

I heard guys had a problem with line-ups to use the bathroom.  Because we live so close, Gord went home and used ours.  When I went to the washroom at about the halfway point, there were free stalls.  Usually it's the women's washroom that has the huge line-up.

I'm looking forward to next year's festival ... hopefully they will go back to the old format.

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