Written & Photographed by Paul Amos
Another Cask Days, another severely difficult Sunday morning! But boy is it worth it. This event just gets better and better, from organization to the quality of product on display.
Held annually at the Evergreen Brick Works, this celebration of all-things-cask was founded by barVolo in 2005.
The big splash this year was the Californians and their highly skilled brewmasters sending some beautiful beers in a wave of kafir lime, scorpion peppers and pumpkins. Stand outs were the Magnolia Proving ground and Stone Ruination with African Cucumber. The Brits were in attendance once again, with some fine showing from Magic Rock, and Siren doing some bold work with their imperial stout with espresso.
It was also very evident (and exciting!) this year, the increase in new breweries from Ontario.
The big boys at Bellwoods Brewery had three beers available; but the beautiful Brett aged beer with local Red Currants — cheekily called ‘Farmageddon’, that was a standout for me. I also really enjoyed the Granite Harvest Ale and name-not-with-standing, Sawdust City�s ?The princess wears kombucha pants�!
Speaking of local hops, the ‘Ontario Hop Growers Association‘ were in attendance. These guys stand for a co-operative of farmers growing hops locally, for local beer. However, after some discussion as to whether they could point me in the direction of a beer that had been created for cask days with these hops, I was sadly told that the information was not available, a missed opportunity in my opinion to link local growers and a cask ale. I�m a big fan of supporting local growers, so if I knew a local brewery was made with local hops, I�m more likely to buy and buy more of it!
There were lots of other local successes at the event. I was particularly excited to see the expanded Ontario Craft Cider section, with some outstanding offerings and big lines. I needed a break from the beer — hard to believe, but true — and it was Feast ON certified Spirit Tree Cidery and West Avenue that dominated heavily in the taste stakes that day.
As usual, it wasn’t all pints and pours. Food was prominent, with Porchetta & Co. putting out some solid Ribs, and Pilot putting out some much needed espresso in between pints!
All in all a great festival. Can’t wait to return next year.