I would be doing a disservice to my Irish heritage and my home town of Lucan if I didn’t dedicate a little space in this month’s column to a wee event called St. Patrick’s Day; a day in which we celebrate a man who chased the snakes off of the Emerald Isle, gave Guinness a reason to sell a ton of beer and everyone else a reason to drink mid-week.
To me, St. Paddy’s Day really signifies the start of the beer drinking season, much like Groundhog Day lets you know that spring is just a rodent whisker away. This year, instead of warming up for St. Patrick’s Day — use St. Patrick’s Day to warm up your liver for the very first installment of the Toronto Festival of Beer’s Spring Session. Yes, that iconic summer festival has graciously put together a spring festival for us with many of our favourite usual suspects and a couple of curve balls (no pun intended, Left Field Brewery).
Unlike its summer sister, the Spring Session is only 2 nights long and will be hosted at the Evergreen Brick Works. The first evening is a special VIP Gala night on March 28th from 4pm–10pm. A portion of your ticket proceeds will be donated to the charitable organizations of our local emergency workers. On day two, the first keg is tapped at 2pm and the last elbow is bent at 8pm so you are going to have to go in with a game plan. That’s where I come in.
The key to successful beer-festing is planning.
FRIDAY: Start your day with a good base; head out for a great brunch (but not lunch — they have some amazing food there that you need to save room for). You are also going to need to do some pre-hydration to help combat the dehydration in your near future. I personally go for coconut water because it has more electrolytes than sports drinks but less sugar and salt.
SATURDAY: Return to the scene of the crime. Buy some fresh eggs, bacon and bread at the Evergreen farmers market and make yourself an amazing breakfast. Eggs contain cysteine which helps break down any booze your body is still toiling away with. Trust me — it’s science. Get ready for round 2.
Now, what to drink? Here is your bucket list of “must-haves” while hitting the festival:
Flying Monkeys’ Belgian Imperial IPA — if Flying Monkeys knows one thing; it’s IPAs. This is going to be big so you don’t want to tackle it first but you don’t want to save it for last either.
Left Field Brewery’s Resin Bag — this American style IPA is fresh off of an impressive 2nd place finish at Cask Days in the IPA Challenge — which is no small feat. They double-dry-hop this brew which brings out the delicate, more complex side of the hops.
Highlander Brewing Lion Grass — now I personally haven’t had this one yet but I am making it a priority when I head down. The citrus notes of the organic lemongrass will work seamlessly with the cascade hops I think. Oh, and it has dandelion leaf in it. Yet another sure-fire way to know spring is on the way.
If you can’t make it down to the Toronto Festival of Beer Spring Session (which will sell out fast hint, hint) you can always head to your local LCBO and create your own festival. Grab a handful of beers you haven’t had before and head home for your own session. A beer that is in high rotation in my fridge at the moment is the newly released Muskoka Brewery Detour. This is their take on an IPA that one can drink all day or a “session IPA” if you will. Clocking in at 4.3% and plenty of hops this is like a beer nerd Coors Light. If you like Mad Tom — you are going to love Detour.
Need some more recommendations? Fire me off a tweet!