The Booze & The Bites
Beer isn’t just for the bros. I know plenty of girls that like to enjoy a nice cold one. I personally just don’t happen to be one of them. I prefer the hard stuff. Like Malibu. Basically I want a drink that looks and tastes like my 5-year old’s Koolaid…with a little more kick. Yes, I’m an all frills girl and totally unapologetic about it. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly psyched about the Beer Fest, but with 416 brews there had to be one for me, right!?
From lagers to stouts, fruit beer to ales, the choices were plentiful. Keep in mind I know next to nothing about hops, malt and barley, so my sampling was going to be based on Meer-o-logic. Fruit = Yummy. My first pour was the ‘Wind-Shear Watermelon Summer Ale’ brewed right close to home in Barrie, ON. Next I went on to the ‘Pump House Blueberry Ale’ from Moncton, NB, then the ‘Solaris Peach Ale’ from Victoria, BC — until I had sampled the sweet nectar from every fruit imaginable. And none of them were actually that bad, some even quite refreshing. In a blur I came to realize that taste isn’t the reason I don’t enjoy beer. It’s the bloat. That heavy, sluggish feeling…like being on the worst day of my period. And I was peeing like a champion. Never have I been so glad to see port-o-potties. Kudos to the Beer Fest crew, every corner you turned there were an abundance of potties lined up like a neat row of townhomes. These people clearly know that beer is not kind to the bladder.
As it turned out even with over 80 brewers and 416 brews (admittedly I didn’t try them all) I couldn’t be converted, but it was definitely a fun experiment. I also found my way to the Smirnoff stand for some White Sangria and Blue Crush. I was pleasantly surprised to find there were quite a few non-malt based drinks like ciders, sangrias and more — so my favourite drink at the Beer Fest was actually a vodka bevy, go figure!
One of the highlights of the TFOB was the 20,000 square-foot Canada 150 Pavilion. The area was completely dedicated to the fine tastes of Canada and paid homage to its great landscapes by giving patrons a taste of the brews and food that hails from coast-to-coast.
“It feels great to be celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday at our 2017 festival,” said Les Murray, President of Toronto’s Festival of Beer, “We carefully hand-selected beer from coast to coast to feature inside our Canada 150 Pavilion and can’t wait for beer lovers to experience it!”
Another highlight. The FOOD. It really should be called the Beer & Food Fest because there was tons of nibbles on hand, including a Grilling Tent with live demos from local celebrity chefs and restaurateurs. From oysters, burgers, pizza to poutine and sweet treats there certainly wasn’t a shortage of mouth-watering deliciousness. We settled on a lobster mac n’ cheese and lobster poutine from Matty’s Seafood that did not disappoint.
The Energy & The Entertainment
What stood out to me most from the moment we walked through the gates was the mood. The vibe was kicking and there was a celebratory swing in the air. People were smiling, laughing, movin’ & groovin’. Beer goggles for everyone! When Saukrates and Choclair came out for the opening set the crowd went wild. T.dot was certainly well represented and the fans were loving the throwbacks.
By the time RedMan and Method Man were ready to hit the Main Stage the crowd was super hyped up and the energy was electric. We were escorted to the VIP/Media pit and found ourselves front row as the concert was about to begin. I looked over at my husband, beaming inside at what a kick-ass wife I was, getting us front and center so my hubby could enjoy one of his favourite old school hip hop jams up close and personal. But I was quickly & quite literally knocked out of my self-righteous glee two minutes into the concert when Meth shouted to the crowd “Come closer…I want the fans closer…BREAKER DOWN THE BARRIERS AND PUSH THROUGH…(pause) But be safe.”
Seriously!? Why would you say that? Do you know how many people are in the crowd? You realize this a BEER fest and pretty much everyone is wasted by now. How are they going to safely break down the barriers? Of course, madness ensues. I turned around and literally in less than 5 seconds the steel bars came crashing down and we were rushed by the mass crowd behind us. Now I know I have this thing where I tend to conjure up the worst in a bad situation and so for a brief moment while grown men and women double my size were ramming into me I thought, “Oh My Lord. I’m going to get trampled on and crushed and die…at this stupid Red & Meth concert. I don’t even like them that much. I don’t even like beer. WTF“.
I realized I was no longer at the Toronto Beer Fest, I was at the Calgary Stampede. In the dirt. Angry Meera was unleashed and I started to push back — albeit a highly unfruitful pursuit given my size and lack of strength. My husband was getting REALLY mad. Guys were shoving him hard and he was shoving right back with success. The tension was so thick in every direction around us and it felt like a big brawl was about to break out at any moment with so many people getting pushed around. After about half hour of being bounced back and forth like a ping pong, enough was enough. I felt a throbbing pain in my foot and needed out one way or the other. There was a narrow space separating the fans from the stage, held up by another set of steel barriers where a group of stressed out security guards had suddenly appeared, sizing up the unmanageable situation. An awesome guard lifted me out over the bars in my mini dress – so very classy. I managed to come out with just a few bruises and a twisted ankle — could have been much worse. Thank God I wore my flats. The ironic thing is during all that chaos, Meth flung a towel out into the crowd and it literally slammed right into my husband’s chest — like some sort of consolation prize for the cyclone he threw at us. (Appreciate that hotel swag — hope you enjoyed your stay). They undoubtedly have mad talent, but Meth that shout out to the crowd was so not cool. And crowd that was some next level cray.
Overall, concert chaos aside I had a surprisingly great night at the TFOB. I went pee about 3 more times before we left, was able to walk again in 2 days and will go back 1 year from now — but lessons learned will stick to the vodka drinks and stand at the far back of the concert where I can run the other direction if need be.