Sunday, 14 September 2014

Toronto Craft Brew Cruise

My wife and I snagged tickets for the first annual Toronto Craft Brew Cruise, so on Saturday, September 13, 2014, we climbed aboard the good ship River Gambler for a three hour spin around the Toronto harbour. There were actually two cruises going--one in the afternoon and one in the evening. We opted for the later option. The cruise was a part of Toronto Beer Week.

Our $40 tickets gained us passage on the party barge, as well as five tokens good for 4 oz. samples and a tiny plastic "commemorative mug". Additional tokens were also available on board for $1 a pop.

The missus and I were initially wary, since the weather forecast was calling for rain and gloom, but we actually lucked into a lovely crisp fall evening.

On board the ship was a pretty sizable crowd of craft beer enthusiasts. It was a relatively diverse bunch of folks (at least in terms of age and gender), though the majority seemed to be in their thirties.

There were representatives from 11 Ontario breweries as well as one cidery on board the Gambler. Some of the province's bigger microbreweries like Beau's, Great Lakes, and Wellington were on hand, as were some of the brighter lights amongst smaller brewers like Oast House, Kensington, and Side Launch, and new guys such as Underdog's and Barnstormer.

As for beers, the offerings available skewed pretty hard toward pale ales. There weren't a lot of things that I hadn't tried, though there were new to me pale ales from Junction and Left Field that really hit the spot, and a vanilla stout from Double Trouble that was absolutely delicious.

The boat was comfortable, though a bit cramped, and restroom facilities and chairs could have been more plentiful. Those of us lucky enough to be on board were treated to gorgeous views of Canada's largest city lit up at night. I've done a T.O. harbour cruise before, but never in the dark, and it added a pretty cool element.

The Toronto Craft Brew Cruise was a fantastic event. If it's offered again next year, get yourself on the boat.

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