The 1st annual Ottawa Winter Brewfest, held last weekend happened on the unluckiest and luckiest days of the year: Friday the 13th and Valentine’s Day.
The good people of Festibière de Gatineau crossed the mighty Outaouais to bring their magical event to Lansdowne. This was the first time this event was held in Ontario, but it is expected to be an annual event. Knowing they had a willing and thirsty market next door from the hordes of Ontarians that would attend the Gatineau festivals, Winter Brewfest had no problem packing the house. And, in case you were nervous, all signs are bilingual so leave your Bescherelle at home.
The event was held in the newly re-opened Horticulture building and hosted over 5,000 guests through three tasting sessions. Fish tacos and delicious poutine, were among the food offerings supplied by friendly neighbourhood Local Public Eatery, while 25 local and Ontario breweries supplied over 80 different beers to the thirsty guests. Next year, there are plans to include also some Quebec-based breweries, which would be amazing.
The atmosphere and event was very upbeat and welcoming. Though many delicious beers were provided, Sawdust City’s Le Chandail de Skokie was a personal winner: This Bière du Garde blew our doors off their hinges with its funky finish and balanced sweetness. Another fun novelty was the self-pour section, where you could find beer by Pembroke’s Square Cut Brewing Company and embarrass yourself with an improperly poured pint. It’s worth it for the rush.
Now, are you like us and often wonder, “Isn’t there anyway I can drink beer AND support a charity?” Well, gentle reader, the answer is “Yes”! Each event featured a Dream Keg, donated by a local brewery, and auctioned off with 100% of the proceeds going to the CHEO foundation. Very commendable.
Winterlude is one of Ottawa’s bright lights in this soul-crushingly cold winter. This major tourism event is now made better, being sandwiched between Festibière de Gatineau and Winter Brewfest. Thanks to the delicious nectar that warmed our veins last Saturday afternoon, I think we just might make it to spring.