|Given my two experiences at the beautiful Waterfront|
Hotel at the foot of Brant Street, it seems when a Beer
Fest happens INSIDE this building, no one is exposed to
the elements! What kind of witchcraft is this, anyway??
The first ever Burlington Winter Beer Festival was held in the Waterfront Hotel's ballroom in February 2015. Being as it was indoors, it neither rained nor snowed on the event.
The second Burlington Beer Festival was held in July 2015, again at Spencer Smith Park over three days. Once again, it rained. A lot. It was a damn mucky go of it. It didn't soak my personal enthusiasm for the event but it sure as hell dampened ticket sales.
The second Burlington Winter Beer Festival was held again in the Waterfront Hotel's downstairs ballroom at the end of January 2016. Oddly, once again, no snow or rain came inside the building. It's the damnedest thing. It's like walls and a roof somehow protect people from the elements. I figure I'll have to ask American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson how exactly that works. I mean, who knew? Gotta be some kind of weird-ass magic, eh? Bricks and mortar are protecting people from the weather? That's just crazy talk.
There were other costs associated with the Burlington Beer Fest that made it a costly venture, former co-organizer "Downtown" Wayne Brown told me. Such as hiring five off-duty police officers over the course of three days. Or the dozens of porta-potties. Hell, just the fencing around the park (to keep out the riff-raff, although I got in anyway.) "Do you know it cost us $10,000 just to bring electricity into the park?" Holy crap, that's some serious Benjamin Franklin's!! (You see what I did there. Because, you know, electricity... and money. Okay, if you stopped reading right now, I wouldn't blame you.)
So there was no 2016 Burlington Beer Fest but Snapd Burlington, a media outfit, swooped in to hold the 2017 Burlington Winter Beer Festival (I was out of town and missed it) and according to the website, will be doing a 2018 Burlington Winter Beer Festival.
Whoa, not so fast, says Downtown Wayne Brown. You see, he hasn't spend the last year, crying in his beloved brown ale over the loss of the Summer Festival. No sirree, Bob, he has been organizing a brand spankin' new one. Now obviously, the name Burlington Beer Festival is taken so he can't use that. So Wayne has created his own Beer Fest called BurlOnTap and as he was one of the people tired of all the damn rain, it will be indoors at the Waterfront Hotel on August 11 and 12. For the Friday session, it's 4 pm to 11 pm and the Saturday one is noon to 11 pm. Tickets are $30 for singles, $55 for pairs or a four-pack for $100 and are readily available through burlontap.com.
So indoors finally wins, eh, Wayne? "Yes, that takes the weather out of play." But, dude, what if it's a beautiful, sunny day? Downtown Brown, as always, had the answer.
"Doors open wide to a huge patio. If the weather's nice, we can probably fit 150 to 200 people out there. The patio is right by the water overlooking the lake so it's going to be great. The patio is sponsored, of course, by Nickel Brook (Brewing), the best brewery around." I would agree with my complete bias towards them fully acknowledged.
|The two logos created by Patti McMillan for the|
BurlOnTap Festival. The top one is the longer
horizontal one to be used on banners and the like
while the bottom one is used for their social media.
Okay, since this is a Beer Festival, the real question is this: What breweries will be there? Why, I'm glad you asked. Of course, we have our local ones, Nickel Brook and The Hamilton Brewery (now three years old) plus a few more from further away. Pint Pursuits Brewing (Toronto-St. Thomas), Katalyst Brewing (Toronto), Rhythm & Brews Brewing (Cambridge), Four Fathers Brewing (Rockwood), MacKinnon Brothers Brewing (Bath), Orange Snail Brewers (Milton), Beau's All-Natural Brewing (Vankleek Hills - and also "Yay!"), Northern Maverick Brewing (Toronto) Lock Street Brewing (St Catharines) and Goose Island Toronto Brewhouse.
Not a huge stable, I grant you, but there's only so many breweries you really want to put in one room. Besides, I've never had a chance to enjoy the products from about half of these so that's always cool. But if you want a break from beer, Pelee Island Winery will be there, as will Cole Point Cider (made by the Bergeron Estate Winery out of Adolphustown) and Junction 56 Distillery (Stratford). Brown said that Junction 56 "are going to be serving vodka and whiskey in small amounts." So you know, if you want a chaser with that beer.
While I'm excited to try the beers from less-known (to me) breweries, Downtown Brown already has a favourite picked out.
How did he managed to track down this tiny brewery from Bath? "I went to the Hamilton Food and Drink Show and they had a booth there. Sweeney was the guy from the family manning the booth. I had an (Eight Man) English Pale Ale and it was absolutely delicious. And they had a bunch of cans (of it) on display. So I said, 'Sweeney, can I buy a can to take home and show my friends?' And he said, 'Just take it.' And I did and the people who tried it really liked it."
"So I told him that they should come to the Beer Fest and he said they couldn't because they're farming that time in August. I said, 'Sweeney, you gotta come. Your beer would be so popular.' I finally convinced him to come and they're gonna stay in the Waterfront Hotel and they're really looking forward to it."
|Here's one soggy beer writer at the 2014 Burlington|
Beer Festival. I'm not sure who this dunce is but
clearly, he doesn't know any better than to get out
of the rain. Trust me, that was one rainy afternoon.
In the meantime, Downtown Brown has been shuttled from event to event throughout Burlington for the past two months, offering up tickets as prizes in contests and the like. "I think I've generated a lot of interest in this event so Mike, Patti and I really looking forward to it."
And when he says "all-ages" (well, 19-plus and older), he's not kidding. While Millennials flock to events like this, it seems the other end of the scale will be represented, as well. "There's a couple of elder residences - I'm not sure if I should be calling them nursing homes anymore - but they're going to be bringing groups of people in so that'll be fun - a real mix of young and old and everything in between." Hey, the more the merrier, right?
Hey, what about food? That's covered, he assured me. "The Beaver and Bulldog Pub is upstairs and they're going to be supplying pizza and they don't have far to deliver it," he laughed.
As for the costs associated with the old Summer Fests? Also off the table. "You want electricity?" he grinned. "There's a socket on the wall. Go plug yourself in." Sound like a plan. So once again, if you're up for it, go to: burlontap.com. And hey, if you need Mike and Patti's service before, during or even well after the BurlOnTap Beer Fest, go to: driverseatinc.com/locations/burlington. It's the smart and safe way to get home! But guys and doll, that's it, that's all and I am outta here! Until next time, I remain...