Saturday 14 June 2014

Session Toronto Craft Beer Festival, Toronto, ON

Gord and I went to the fifth annual Session Toronto Craft Beer Festival this evening ... this is the fifth one we've been to.

This year it was held right downtown at Yonge Dundas Square.  I was wondering how it was going to work there ... and it did.

A regular ticket was $40 (plus tax) which included a glass and five tasting tickets. Tasting tickets were $1 and one ticket got you a 3 ounce sample.  We'd bought Princess Passes ($100 + tax).

With this pass you will have a separate entrance to the event with no lineups, private bathrooms, 30 tasting tickets, access to the princess area which features a catered buffet, unique beers and private music/entertainment, and a chance to shmooze with important industry folk. 

Well, there was no private music/entertainment and no schmoozing with important industry folk.  But we did have a private entrance, unlimited sandwiches and cupcakes, private bathrooms (rather than port-a-potties), bottles of water and, most importantly, a place to sit (there were tables and couches).

Gord and I ... thumbs up for the princess passes
The VIP area
Cupcakes from the Sassy Lamb
Laura (aka Hutch), the princess, and Gord

There were two drafts available in the VIP area.  I'd had the Griffon Raspberry Lemon Verbena Saison before so that's what I mostly had.

Kate took great care of me!

Here's the general area minutes before 5pm when the event started.

There were security guards at the bottom of the steps to the VIP areas.

There were lots of choices of beer and cider, along with food.

It got busy in the general area as the evening went on but the line-ups were okay.  What I found a big overwhelming was that there was soooooo many choices.

There was entertainment ... Mr. Rick & the Biscuits along with beer/food education.

Mr. Rick & the Biscuits were excellent!
Learning about beer

Besides the Griffon Saison, where's what I had ...

Cherry lager
Bacon cider ... it was okay
If you tried the July Talk beer from Mill Street,
you got a free teeshirt AND free samples all night ... I liked it
I found Brakeman's too hoppy ... Gord liked it
My last drink was a cidar

Tom Green was there.  His collaboration beer with Beau's Brewing Company had won best beer at last year's festival.

We sat with my friend, Darlene, and her friends, Christine and Bruce.

Gord, Bruce, me, Christine and Darlene
Bruce, Gord, Christine, me and Darlene
Darlene is Gord's beer sister ... they both love a hoppy beer

Tom Green spent some time chatting on the VIP level.

I had 13 tickets left at the end of the night.  Rather than let them go to waste, I got 13 cupcakes at the Sassy Lamb and brought them home.

All in all, it was a fun night and a much better venue than last year.

Me and Kate, my new BFF

I liked having the princess passes.  We were able to sit down at a table all night (it was mostly standing only in the general area).  Plus if we wanted, Hutch would have gotten us our drinks from the vendors below (we didn't ask her to).  There was food available all night along with two draft choices so we didn't have to go to the general area and worry about the line-ups if we didn't want to.

This festival continues to evolve, mostly for the good.  One thing I didn't like about this year's was the length ... four hours has been the shortest length yet.  It was supposed to go 'til 9pm and last call was at 8:30pm (there's been no last call in the past).  Plus towards the end of the night when we went to the private bathrooms, we had to go around the long way to get back to our table ... the security guard said it was because the VIP area was at capacity, which made no sense.  I found 30 tickets to be a lot to have to use in a such a short time period ... there's no way I can drink 15 six ounce glasses of beer in about four hours.  Maybe next year they could reduce the price of the princess pass and provide less tickets (or no tickets and I would buy what I want).


Sarah said...

Looks like a fun evening, thanks for sharing!

Masshole Mommy said...

You should send this to the people that run it, so they maybe can do something about the tickets next year.

Fizzgig said...

now this is my kind of gig! I did a wine festival once, so much fun, but this is way bigger than the one here in the states! i agree with the previous poster, the people who put on events always welcome areas of improvement, and it doesn't hurt to share your experience!