Monday, December 11, 2017

Great Canadian Beer Festival fantastic thanks to beer, beer, and more beer

September 21, 2016 by Adam Boyle, staff writer

As a 19-year-old student, the prospect of being able to attend a festival focused around beer was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I had never been to a festival of any kind until now; the Great Canadian Beer Festival could not have been a better entrance into this world.

After I arrived, I fumbled around the outside of Royal Athletic Park, where the festival was taking place. Eventually I ran into an old co-worker who, after some chit-chat, directed me to where I could enter as a reporter. Rushing blood, a pounding heart, and an excited anticipation of what was to come were all very much present in my festival-virgin body.

I joined the ranks of fellow reporters and filled up the provided plastic cup at the first of my stops, Tod Creek Craft Cider’s booth. After chatting to a few others in the group and downing the unusually bitter cider faster than I probably should have, we moved on to Moody Ales’ booth. And I must say, the beer we were served was incredibly good. Sweet honey and oak chips were used in the brewing process, and sweet baby Jesus, was it effective. Now, I’m a fairly selective beer being, and after trying their Hardy Brown Ale I will definitely buy more when I get the chance.

Beer, sunshine, and good company: this year’s fest was a success (photo by Adam Boyle/Nexus).

Beer, sunshine, and good company: this year’s fest was a success (photo by Adam Boyle/Nexus).

After trying a few more brews, the tour ended at Brasserie Dunham’s booth. Given the choice of three fruity beers, I chose the Berliner Mango Weisse. Now, I love mangoes with a passion, but mangoes in a beer? That reached a whole new level of mango I didn’t think was possible. The mango beer was incredible: overwhelming mango flavour with hints of actual beer thrown in.

With the tour wrapped up and a few pictures taken, the media group disbanded, and I decided to take some more photos before the floodgates were opened and people filled the ball field of booze. Wandering around, I found a few people dressed as various characters: the Mad Hatter, a guy in all pink (even his beard and hair), a German Oktoberfest waitress, and, of course, a girl dressed as a hop, to name a few.

By this time, people started pouring into the field, and, boy, was it fantastic to watch. People rushed to their favourite stands and lined up so fast I didn’t even have time to register it all. I was surprised to see how cheerful and lively the grounds had suddenly become. People were incredibly friendly, and when asked for their photos or their opinions on beers, every single person cheerfully replied with a grin and a “this better be front page!” (Sorry, it’s not.)

A small sampling of some of the characters at this year’s beer fest (photo by Adam Boyle/Nexus).

A small sampling of some of the characters at this year’s beer fest (photo by Adam Boyle/Nexus).

After a few more beers at random stops and a trip back to get some more of that sweet, sweet mango beer (Brasserie Dunham, you win), I ran into more writers and had an intimate discussion about the different textures of the beers we had acquired. Soon, the beers started to set in, and I melted into the crowd and reunited with my old co-worker once again for a quick photo. As time went by I almost forgot that there was work to be done. The sun was out, not a cloud was in the sky, and I, as well as seemingly everyone else, was having a fantastic time.

Eventually, though, I decided that it was time to attempt to make my way home, which resulted in me in getting off at the wrong bus stop and having to walk for a solid 20 minutes back to my home (by then, thankfully, the tipsiness had worn off).

So would I say that the Great Canadian Beer Festival was a success? Yes, I would. It was a great experience to spend time with old and new friends, and, come on, mango beer? Things can’t get much better than that. The layout of the festival was well thought out and easy to navigate, the washrooms were plentiful, and the food that was offered was pretty dang good too. The atmosphere alone was enough to make me want to go back next year.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to. As I stumbled home after getting off at the wrong bus stop, I realized that I was bested by beer fest this year, but next year, I will survive it.

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