Our top five picks for this weekend’s Toronto Festival of Beer

Our top five picks for this weekend’s Toronto Festival of Beer

(Image: Renée Suen from the Torontolife.com Flickr pool) 

To those in need of relief from this year’s hot summer, we’ve got good news. Starting tomorrow, over 120 beer and food vendors—Canadian and international, craft and corporate—will take over the CNE’s Bandshell Park for Toronto’s Festival of Beer. The event, now in its 17th year, runs August 4 to 7, though—a word to the wise—Saturday’s tickets are gone, so hopheads wanting in on the action best get moving (admission is $38.50 per day). Below, five ways to make the most out of the four-day beerathon (the full schedule is on the festival website).

1. Caskapalooza
Etobicoke’s Great Lakes Brewery will be holding court at the southwest corner of the grounds all weekend, offering 20 one-off batches, including Pompous Ass Pale Ale and Sweet Pete’s Peach Wheat. Keep an eye out for the guys in tie-dyed tees playing ’60s rock.

2. Girl’s Guided Beer Tour
Local beerologist Mirella Amato is leading three tours for ladies interested in learning the history of women and beer, as well as how to taste various styles like a pro. A Rickard’s-sponsored after-party follows. August 4, 5 p.m; August 7, 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. beerology.ca

3. The Mash Up
Eight Ontario craft breweriesare spending all three days working in teams of two—among them Barrie’s Flying Monkeys with Burlington’s Nickel Brook and Toronto’s Amsterdam with Great Lakes—to pump out exclusive one-off batches.

4. Queer Beer Fest
One extra day is devoted to celebrating our city’s LGBT community, a festival first. Comedian Maggie Cassella’s on emceeing duties, while Swedish pop legends Ace of Base headline the night’s live music. August 4. $30-$39. queerbeerfestival.ca

5. The Grilling Tent
Canadian grill-gurus Ted Reader (of Ted’s World Famous BBQ planks) and Rob Rainford (from the food network’s License to Grill) lead a rotating roster of acclaimed chefs who’ll teach guests the fine art of marrying meat and flame. Rolling Rock, Hoegaarden and a handful of other brands are bringing the brews. August 5 to 7.