Monday, November 11, 2013

What I've been up to, including the Windsor Craft Beer Festival

Man it's been a busy couple of months.

I apologize for letting this blog slide in the face of lots of other things going on both at work and in my other, non-food based, hobbies.

One thing that took up the a lot of my time was planning for, and then gaming for Extra Life. Together with other members of the Windsor Gaming Resource we raised $1400 for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals!

It was a truly epic night of gaming over at Brimstone Games on November 2nd and well worth all the work that went into advertising and planning the event. Added to this stress, the week before, I hosted our first ever RPG mini-con called Level Up! That also went really well.

Enough about gaming though, if you cared about that you would be reading my other blog. So on to food based topics. Well at least drink based topics.

One of the coolest things that happened since my last post here at Big Dude Likes Food was Windsor's first ever Craft Beer Festival. This was put on by the great people at Windsor Eats and happened back on October 17th and 18th. My wife and I attended on the Friday night and had a great time.

This was my second experience at an event like this. The first was attending the North American Craft Beer Experience which I talked a bit about in my post about our anniversary trip to Toronto. The two events were both very similar and very different.

These were the first two beers of the night.
Cost for the Windsor event was $25 in advance or $30 at the door and that included 5 drink tickets. A single drink ticket got you a 4oz sample or half a glass, and you had the option to trade in two at a time for a full glass. Well by glass I mean plastic cup, unless you bought in at the VIP level. VIPs got a meal before the event and a limited edition etched glass, and paid far too much for the privilege as far as I'm concerned. Maybe that's just jealousy talking ;)

You could, of course buy more tickets past your initial 5. These were very reasonably priced and my wife and I went through quite a few of them.

The following breweries were in attendance: Bayside Brewing Co, Beau's All Natural Brewing, Highlander Brew Co., Broadhead Brewing Co., Lake of Bays Brewing Co., Motor Craft Ales, Walkerville Brewery, St. Ambroise/McAuslan, Wellington Brewery and Mill St. Brewery.

Each of these had multiple beers available for patrons to try out, some offering as many as 8 different brews. Each brewery had their own tent and all were well staffed. Even late at night when the place really started to fill in, the line ups never got that bad.

The two stand outs for me were Highlander Blacksmith Smoked Porter and Mill Street Vanilla Porter

The rather cool light logo
What I found odd was how dead the event was from 5pm until about 9pm. It really was empty. For an event that was only running 6 hours, I figured it would be packed the entire time. By the end of the night though it was standing room only.

Standing room was one of my minor complaints about the event. There were four picnic tables set up in the center of the area but that's it for seating. This seemed odd to me, that everyone would want to stand for the whole event. Personally I wanted a seat to be able to add my beer tastings to as I tried new beers.

In addition to the beer the St. Clair College Culinary Arts students were there selling some amazing poutine, fish and sliders. Food was $5 a small plate, tapas style. It wasn't enough for dinner or anything but it was nice to have something on hand to eat. One of the booths were also selling pretzel necklaces, which seemed to be popular based on the number of people I saw wearing them.

The one thing I really didn't understand about this event was the timing. Why would you plan an outdoor event for late October? It was cold! Really cold. One of the coldest days we had experienced this year. That made things a little less enjoyable as I didn't dress as warmly as I should have. There were no heaters or anything of the sort to be found, just open, cold, air. What if it had rained?

Pretty good crowd by the end
While I would have preferred a warmer time of year for this and would have preferred to see more brewers at the event I still think this was pretty cool for a first time event. There were some hiccups but overall I had fun and I got to try a ton of great beer.

Based on the Windsor Craft Beer Festival website they are planning to host another one next year and I'm fully planning on attending. Maybe I'll take the VIP plunge next year.

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