It is always nice to revisit a beer festival in subsequent years to see how the festival is evolving and to reflect back on one’s thoughts the first time around. This is the second year I have attended the tiny, but enjoyable, festivities at Millennium Park in Peterborough, Ontario. The festival is situated in a small park alongside the river and for the craft beer festival a few food trucks roll in, there is live music and breweries, of course though alas not many – this may be a direct consequence of the choice of venue. Situated as is there is very little space for this event to grow and attract more breweries, which is too bad. Hopefully, as the craft beer scene continues to grow exponentially this festival may have to relocate to really diversify the beer options.
That being said, for those new to the Kawarthas there is good representation by the local (read within easy driving distance) breweries. For those of us revisiting the festival there is not a whole lot new to explore in terms of new kids on the block but luckily a few of the breweries brought some “off-menu” options for sampling. One thing that is markedly different about the craft beer events I have visited in Ontario from those in the Pacific Northwest is the seeming reluctance of breweries to really dazzle with their line-ups; where are the cask beers? the fest exclusives? the vertical tastings? It seems many play it pretty safe bringing the usual suspects you find at the LCBO and at the breweries. I do get the appeal of bringing beer that potential future customers can seek out easily but you got keep your existing fans satiated as well!
Okay, so now that I have that off my chest, I will say it was a really fun festival. The beautiful weather did not hurt and overall a very neat and orderly kind of crowd who sought shade under the massive tented seating area. One new food feature was the addition of beer macarons; a little sweet for my taste but a neat addition. I appreciated that the space was full but not so much so that you could’tn get through a drink line quickly or find a space to park it with your brew. I sampled somewhat selectively, I think this is the downside of being a long-time beer nerd, choosing things I had not tried before or things that seemed a bit “off menu”.
A couple of worth mentions for me included the peach tea beer from Old Flame Brewing Co. and the bourbon barrel aged cider from Empire Cider Co. There was also a very interesting looking option from Churchkey Brewing Co. that had rosemary and grapefruit but alas by the time I got there they had sold out – and it was only midday on the Saturday (bring back-up beer next time guys).
Overall, good time had by all but fingers crossed I will be dazzled next year …third time is a charm right?