Beer enthusiasts hop to Winter Brewfest


It was only a matter of time before a winter beer festival would make its way to a city known for its craft beer scene.

Although it hasn’t felt much like winter in Southern Ontario lately, Winter Brewfest brought cold beer, loud beats and food trucks inside Toronto’s rustic Heritage Court at Exhibition Place last weekend.

The first edition of Winter Brewfest hit Ottawa just last year and made its way down south to Toronto, host to over 35 breweries, including Mill Street Brewery, Steam Whistle and Junction Craft to name a few.

“The people who are here actually care about beer and want to know more about it,” said Brodie de Ruiter, events and sponsorship coordinator for Creemore Springs.

Ashley Van Hee, a frequent attendee of food and wine expos, drove from Port Dover to learn more about the breweries and endless flavours of beer.

For Vancouver resident Krista Hansen, the festival was a small highlight of her trip to the city.

“I’ve been to past beer festivals in Vancouver but this one is so different. It’s more like a night club,” said Hansen.

There was no doubt that mixes from Tom Wrecks, Conor Cutz, Techtwelve and Grump didn’t go unnoticed, with attendees creating their own dance floor early in the night.

“For us the festival is just a great way to get out and own it and we have the presence so people know we are here,” said de Ruiter.

With the Creemore booth being one of the busiest throughout the night, beer enthusiasts crowded around to hand over tokens for generous samples.

Guests received a package of 10 tokens for $10, with samples of beer ranging from three to four tokens depending on the brewery.


Across from the token stand was High Park Brewery, one of the newest members to the beer scene.

A family owned and run business, High Park started mixing their brews only six months ago.
“As a new craft beer, we are really just trying to get the word out,” said Ted Clark, co-founder of High Park.

“The best part is how helpful the other breweries have been. It’s really a unique industry because with small craft breweries they want to see everyone succeed.”

Helping out in the community is part of the brewing culture and established breweries Spearhead and Great Lakes both participated in the “Dream Keg” charity initiative.

With the donation of two kegs, $2,885 was raised over the two-day event for the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital to help improve the lives of children with disabilities.

For three tokens, guests could receive a four-ounce sample of Spearhead’s Sam Roberts Band Session Ale or Great Lakes Brewery’s Canuck Pale Ale. All sales raised through the purchase of these samples went toward the charity.

The 50 breweries from across Quebec and Ontario provided 131 kinds of beer for festivalgoers to choose from.

With lagers, pale ales, IPAs and wheat beers to choose from, guests were able to sample signature products from Collingwood Brewery, Innis and Gunn, Beau’s All Natural Brewing and Muskoka Brewery.

Specialty cask beer was also available for sampling from Spearhead, Nickel Brook, Amsterdam, Mill Street, High Park, Great Lakes and Nita.

With the cask beers, the fermenting process isn’t complete until a few days or hours before serving, making it less carbonated but still full of flavour.

Along with glass mason jars for sampling through the night, complimentary with the purchase of a $20 entry ticket, t-shirts and coasters were also available at the festival for guests to purchase.

A gourmet food truck station, located at the back of Heritage court kept beer bellies full with tacos, poutines, mac n cheese and sausages.

The festival sold out for the weekend, with over 6,000 attendees on Friday and Saturday.

“It’s just been a fun time. Everyone is always positive at events like this and looking around you can see they are all having a good time,” said Clark.