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Monday, August 6, 2012

[Event] The 2012 Toronto Festival of Beer

Just over a week ago, I had the pleasure of attending the 18th annual Toronto Festival of Beer at Bandshell Park. Being Canada's largest beer festival, it was definitely an overwhelming feat for this newbie! Each year the festival brings together hundreds of beer exhibitors and pavilions showcasing everything beer related. From cigars to food, hot girls to zoo animals. So much to see, do and soak in all at once! It was definitely a good time, but I wish someone would have told me how to tackle it strategically to make the most of my day. So here it is, Mary's guide to The Toronto Festival of Beer.

There really aren't too many words to describe this event aside from being one collosal beer party!

1) Equip yourself!

Photo by: Yvonne

So the first thing you do when you enter is buy tokens. These are the golden universal currency of the festival, as it is the only currency vendors will accept. Sold at $1 each in packs of 20, make sure you stock up on these. You don't want to get caught running of them!

2) Preliminary Rounds

Take one walk around the park to familiarize yourself with the fairgrounds, specifically what your options are, and where they are. My rookie mistake was bouncing around to whatever caught my eye, and as a result missed out on lots of things. You will be tempted to run to the first thing that catches your eye, because there is lots to see!

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Mill Street Mermaid

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Me and a gigantic Erdinger glass!

3) Get yourself into the media lounge

Not everyone may be lucky enough to get into the media lounge, but everyone can try! They had a contest throughout the park allowing you to win access to a closed off tent with lots of free samples, wifi, and comfy couches. It's the only immunity you have to the hectic crowd, and all the tired feet at the festival will be at your envy!

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Chillin' in the Media Lounge

4) Drink Beer

Enough Said..

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Craft Beers

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Flying Monkeys

My favourite brewer of the festival was (@flyingmonkeys). Their style is quirky and colourful, reflecting their motto that "Normal is Weird". I love all their fruity beers: Very berry to Fruit Punch, Grape to Fruits R Rs. The beers were refreshing, sweet, and perfect for the summer! If you're not a fan of fruity beers like my boyfriend, you can opt for a Hoptical Illusion like he did. It's a full flavoured beer that I found was quit the bitter!

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Creemore Springs

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5) Eat, eat, EAT!!

After having copious amounts of beer from tip #4, you'll need to re-hydrate and eat to counteract some of that bubbly goodness. There are free water stations around the park, so that solves the first problem. The second problem is even easier to solve. You cannot walk 10 steps without encountering a tent or truck offering delicious food in exchange for tokens. Enough said.

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Melt Grilled Cheese

My boyfriend described the Melt (@ Meltgrilledchz ) Menage a Trois as being the "best grilled cheese" he's ever had. Three types of cheese between two greasy toasted bread with a wide array of dipping sauces. Lines the stomach right up for alcoholic consumption!

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K Song Taco

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Kimchi Taco ($5)

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Rock Lobster Food

I have a weak spot for lobster, Matt Dean Pettit's Rock Lobster Food (@RockLobsterFood) pop up was simply too good to pass up. In exchange for 6 tokens we got a mini lobster roll that was admittedly tiny, but enough to satisfy. Chunky lobster, a light toss of mayo, and a crispy buttered bun makes for a a truly gratifying lobster roll. YUMS.

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Fidel Gastros

The night would not be complete if we didn't stop by the Fidel Gastros (@fidelgastros) booth. Matt Basile puts so much love into all his sandwiches, and just something about hearing him shout "OLE!" is so gratifying! Loved the Gorgeous George. Peanut butter, bacon, and pulled pork? How can you go wrong with that combination?

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And if you are strapped for tokens, why not come by this popcorn cart that is generously offering a fresh bag of popped popcorn for a grand total of zero tokens??

6) Dont' just drink beer.

Yes,this is a festival celebration of beer, there is so much more to do than that!

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Steam Whistle's Beer Box Hats

It just wouldn't be a party if everyone didn't have specialized head gear. A team of trained professionals opened up shop to help guests craft a beer hat of their liking. Some were as simple as a crowns and masks, but others were quite elaborate. At one point I saw someone with overalls made out of steam whistle boxes!

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Lake of Bay (@lb_brewing)beer brewing demostration

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Learning about Birds of Prey

Canadian Raptor Conservancy educating us about birds of prey. Did you know that the barn owl has a heart shaped face to enhance hearing? It's like when humans cut their hands next to their ears. In fact, if you cup your hands face up side by side, it forms a heart shape!

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Kreesha Turner Performing

Listening to Kreesha Turner (@kreeshaturner) bringing her all on stage. Loved it!

7) Stay after dark

The fairgrounds here are almost like the streets of comic book city: civilized and orderly when the sun is out, and then wild and chaotic after dark. It all started with the Salt-N-Pepa (@thesaltnpepa) performance. Bringing the crowd through a journey through time, with music hits from almost every era. Then after that, every tent began to blast loud thumping music, and turn on their flashing neon lights. Throw in a all the people that have been drinking all day, and it was like one huge club, with multiple bars everywhere!

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Salt N Pepa Mini Concert

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Sky full of cell phones

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So there you have it. Things that Mary would do at Beerfest 2013. If I were you, I'd bookmark the official Toronto Festival Of Beer page. Equipped with information updates as well as a countdown timer. 50 more weeks until Beerfest 2013. GET EXCITED PEOPLE.