30 Jul

The Toronto Festival of Beer – Beer Review

Canuck_Pale_Ale_GLBDate: Saturday, July 26. 2014
Location: Bandshell Park, Exhibition Place
Time: 1:30-8:00 PM

Every year in Toronto, the Beer Store takes over Bandshell Park for an entire weekend at the end of July for their Festival of Beer and fills the area with a very large number of beer tents, pop-up restaurants, and vendors.From jerky and cigars to junk food and dinner, they have got all your needs covered so you can just relax and enjoy the myriad selection of beer.

Flying Monkeys in particular has had a substantial spread of widely different brews; in fact it was the most impressive number of taps I saw all day by easily double. If I had greater tolerance for beer I would have tried them all but there were plenty of other breweries with tasty treats to try. I’d meant to pick up a shirt but somehow plans become very fluid after a good quantity of beer and I never got around to it. I did snag some stickers and a whole mess of coasters throughout the day and stopped in to see Left Field early enough to remember to buy a comfy tank tap.

While I was disappointed that the first Left Field beer I tried – Resin Bag IPA, which turned me on the the brewery – was not available, I did go back multiple times and ended up trying all three of their offerings. This is a brewery to watch: I expect good things to come. If you can get your hands on the Resin Bag you should definitely give it a try but don’t hesitate to give the others a chance as well!

Below you will find a list of the beers I tried, some information about them, and my ranking. Over the next few weeks I will be going into more detail about as many of them as I can get my hands on again and will link to the full reviews from here as I go.



Sunlight Park Saison

Brewery: Left Field Brewing
Style: Session Saison
ABV: 5.3%       IBU: 22

3 and a halfcat

Brewed in honour of Toronto’s first professional baseball stadium, this is a tart and refreshing session saison. It is brewed with lots of malted wheat, honey malt, and organic grapefruit for a fruity and fresh flavour and crisp finish.

Mr. Huff Persuasion Pilsner

Brewery: Hop City Brewing Co. 
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 5%        IBU: 30

3 and a halfcat

A combination of German and Czech styles – and hops – this pilsner has a spicy aroma and a hop-forward flavour. Crisp and refreshing, it is a great beer for a hot day on the patio.

Canuck Pale Ale

Brewery: Great Lakes Brewing
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.2%        IBU: unknown

4 out of 5 cats

GLB’s version of a West Coast Ale has a strong hoppy aroma and tart, slightly prickly mouthfeel. A lingering bitterness draws out the fresh bready malts for an APA that is dry with good tropical notes.

She Gives Good Hop

Brewery: Flying Monkeys Craft Brewing
Style: Imperial / Double Brown Ale
ABV: 9.3%        IBU: N/A

3 and a halfcat

This double brown ale has a sweet malty character that nicely balances the strong Centennial hops and helps to create a beer that lies somewhere between an IPA and a dark lager.

C.O.D Black Hops

Brewery: Flying Monkeys Craft Brewing
Style: Black IPA / Cascadian Dark Ale
ABV:  8.2%        IBU: 62

4 out of 5 cats


This black IPA has a strong backbone of sweet malt that moves from dark licorice to a citrus hop flavour. It has almost Belgian notes with a strong alcohol presence and a licorice finish.

Side Launch Wheat

Brewery: Side Launch Brewing
Style: German Hefeweizen
ABV: 5.3%        IBU: N/A

4 out of 5 cats

This authentic Bavarian style wheat beer is unfiltered with light wheat and citrus scents and a creamy banana and spice flavour with hunts of citrus.


Brewery: Left Field Brewing
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 4.5%        IBU: N/A

4 out of 5 cats


This “down to earth” session ale is named for Roger Maris, a baseball legend who made history when he beat Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1961. This beer honours his no-nonsense, to-the-point attitude and is made for a day at the ballpark or your favourite patio.

Scottish Raspberry

Brewery: Crabbie’s
Style: Raspberry Ginger Beer
ABV: 4%        IBU: N/A

4 out of 5 cats

This raspberry ginger beer was the bright berry interlude in the middle of my day and it was highly appreciated. Tart berries undercut with citrus and spicy ginger notes for a warm, tart ginger and berries finish.

Headstock IPA

Brewery: Nickel Brook Brewing
Style: American IPA
ABV: 7%         IBU: 80

4 out of 5 cats

Hop-forward, this IPA is dominated by tropical fruits and resiny hops before the malt backbone emerges as the beer warms. With a nice long resiny finish and refreshing carbonation, Headstock is well-balanced and something I am always glad to see on tap.

Innis & Gunn Lager

Brewery: Innis & Gunn
Style: German Lager
ABV: 4.6%        IBU: N/A

3 and a halfcat


Inspired by the German lager style known as Helles, this more recent addition to the Innis & Gunn line-up has a sweet, malty flavour that is well-balanced with a refreshing and aromatic hoppiness. Lemon zest and a rich nuttiness are present in the smooth finish.

Anchor Steam

Brewery: Anchor Brewing Co.
Style: California Common
ABV: 4.9%        IBU: 37

3 and a halfcat

This deep amber beer has a thick, authentic body and a rich creamy head. A blend of pale and caramel malts, Anchor Steam combines modern craft brewing with decades of history to create a tasty and  rich beer.


Brewery: Wychwood
Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
ABV: 5.2%        IBU: 24

4 out of 5 cats


This ESB features roasty malts and neutral hops with a hint of chocolate on the nose and more powerful chocolate notes in the flavour. With a thin body and light carbonation, it is a nice offering from the Wychwood Brewery. My preference is for the Black Witch (which, sadly, I can no longer find).

Belhaven Black Scottish Stout

Brewery: Belhaven Brewery
Style: Stout
ABV: 4.2%        IBU: N/A

3 out of 5 cats


With strong roast coffee and chocolate flavours, this stout has a great flavour but a somewhat lighter body than I usually expect from a stout. Worth a try if you can get your hands on it but doesn’t come near some of my favourites.

Conductor’s Pale Ale

Brewery: Junction Craft Brewing
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.3%        IBU: 32

3 out of 5 cats

Only very broadly falling within the pale ale category, this beer is a hybrid of American, British, and German styles with a nicely complex hop profile that is both balanced and drinkable with a toasted biscuity flavour with hints of caramel.

James Tibeerius Cuke

Brewery: Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery
Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale
ABV: 6%        IBU: 20

4 and a halfcat

This incredibly smooth saison had just enough of a cucumber flavour to make it extremely refreshing without overwhelming the hops and funky flavour of the style. My favourite beer of the day, I will be keeping an eye on Flying Monkeys and hoping to see more of this beer.

Blonde Jager Bomb

Brewery: Great Lakes Brewery
Style: Spice/Herb/Vegetable Lager
ABV: unknown    IBU: N/A

3 and a halfcat


This blonde beer is brewer with jager for a very interesting flavour that is easy-drinking and unique. Unfortunately I completely forgot to write down the ABV and the internet is proving unhelpful. Try it if you can find it!


Brewery: Left Field Brewing
Style: Oatmeal Brown Ale
ABV: 5.5%        IBU: 35

4 out of 5 cats


Named for a risky and seldom thrown pitch, this oatmeal brown ale continues Left Field’s baseball-inspired line-up. Aromas of roasted malts and toasted nuts belay a surprisingly creamy and smooth taste.

666 Devil’s Pale Ale

Brewery: Great Lakes Brewery
Style: English Pale Ale
ABV: 6.66%        IBU: N/A

3 and a halfcat


This pale ale has a rich mahogany colour and an aroma reminiscent of early English pale ales. It features a hearty, malt backbone with a medium hoppy bitterness. This is a great ale to enjoy on a sunny day, then follow it with a 999 – GLB’s Apocalypse Later, a black IPA with a nice kick.


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