Travelled to Union Station via Yonge St. subway and hopped onto the 509 Harboufront streetcar which stops at the south entrance to the fesival.Arrived at 1:30pm and stood in line for a good 45 minutes while security processed the mostly college student crowd that packed the place.Sold out weeks ago,my $27.50 ticket allowed 5 four oz. taste tokens picked up at the entrance.
Tasting glasses were also picked up at the gate,heavy plastic with a 4 oz. fill line and an 8oz.fill line,costing one and two tokens respectively,extra tokens sold in multiples of five,available at two locations inside for a buck per token.Motto on entrance signs"Love your glass,it's the only one you get!"For those patrons whose focus wasn't strictly on consumption, questions could be asked about the brews and answers readily provided. Even at tents where numerous bottled micros were being served, the distributors who were pouring were very knowledgeable and informative.
The physical layout was a reasonable compromise between shaded tent setting and an outdoor one. The large main outdoor stage featured round tables in front with umbrellas. Each brewery seemed to have enough space to both showcase and serve their beers. Draughts outnumbered the bottled products. Drinking water and rinse buckets were noticeably present. The various bands/DJs kept the mood in the tents festive,particularily the Red Stripe tent,lots of crowd dancing and singing! Outside, the mood, like the crowd, was more eclectic. A few dozen picnic tables in the center of the square offered a place to sit and relax while open grass to the side provided the vantage point for people watching. Regardless of your location, your senses were inundated from all directions. From behind, the unmistakable fragrance of hops, as fresh beer was poured. From the right, the smell of BBQ ribs and roasted corn-on-the-cob. From the left, the amplified sounds of the various singers who took the stage. From the center, the shouts and cheers of the Tent Crews doing a successful job of getting the crowd to enjoy themselves. Coming with the breezes from all direction was the occasional scent of cigar smoke, confirming reports that this fad is indeed sweeping through the craft beer scene.
There was a healthy mix of tasty food and beers, and although a bit crowded, people were well behaved and there were uniformed police present.
Oh yes,for the food,I enjoyed Ted Readers slow smoked beef brisket sandwich on the way in for $10 ,while I happily sampled another $15 bucks worth of beer on a picture perfect,hot August summer afternoon!