“What better way,” we thought, “to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon than drinking Ontario craft beer?”
We couldn’t agree with ourselves more.
We returned to 99 Sudbury for the second annual Session99 Craft Beer Festival, and immediately found it to be far more busy than last year’s. Certainly it was easier to understand: last year there was a confusing — and, I think, fairly ripoff-ish — method of advanced tickets + per-beer tickets, whereas this year a single charge got you entry, lots of food, and unlimited beer samples.
Here’s what we tried, round by round:
- Two Augusta Ales from Kensington Brewing
- A Blueberry Wheat and an Ambre de la Chaudiere from Mill Street
- F&M’s Pepperazzi (made with jalapeno) and a Kensington Watermelon Wheat (Nellie seemed intent on trying the fruity wheat beers)
- From the new Bellwoods Brewery, the Picket Fence Wheat for me and the Sharkwitch IIPA for her
- My first of two Spearheads, the Moroccan brown ale, and the first of Nellie’s two collaboration brews, the Black Oak Daily Bread (w/ Sawdust City and Cheshire Valley)
- I had the second of my two Spearheads, the Belgian Stout, while Nellie hit the head
- Our first stop at Sawdust City yielded two fantastic beers: a very hoppy Golden Beach Pale Wheat for me, and a mixture of the Cockpuncher (seriously, cockpuncher!) IPA + Belgian witbier for Nellie
- I had a Hogsback Brewing traditional Scottish ale, but was annoyed with myself ex post facto for having visited a booth manned mainly by hoochies…I just didn’t notice until after they’d poured the sample. I have a general no-hoochie-booth rule at beer events…it’s a good indication that their beer will suck. I’m looking at you, True North Brewing. Meanwhile, Nellie had her second collaboration beer, but for the life of us we can’t remember what it was. Something from Amsterdam maybe?
- Perennial favourite Great Lakes gave us two new ones to try: the Lake Effect IPA for Nellie (even though I thought she should have tried the Armadildo) and some kind of porter for me…I forget which, but it definitely wasn’t the 25th anniversary Robust (which I have in my fridge, just waiting for me)
- Still ahead of Nellie, I had a Wellington Iron Duke, mainly because I can now officially say I got to 49/50 of my Project FiftyBrew beers
- Flying Monkey’s sample list had something called the Raped By Grapes, which was too sweet for Nellie (and also about which I suspect they received a few complaints) while I had the scotch ale, which was decent but not great
- Back to Sawdust City for the straight up Cockpuncher IPA (me) while Nellie had the Belgian Dubbel IPA (which I think was made in conjunction with Black Oak and Microbrasserie Charlevoix)
At this point it was nearly 4PM — the end of our session — and it was only then that we really figured out the food situation. We managed to squeeze in a few tiny cupcakes from The Sassy Lamb, including the peanut butter + maple buttercream icing + bacon “Canadian Mancake” which I so loved last year, and a pineapple-y one made with Spearhead’s IPA. We didn’t get burgers from Burger Bar, or gourmet corndogs from Cowbell, mainly because we’d stuffed ourselves before heading to the festival. Lesson learned for next year.
Highlights: Bellwoods, the two new Spearhead beers (for me), and the two collaboration beers (for Nellie), but most especially Sawdust City. I loved everything I tried from these guys. And to my earlier point about the relationship between beer quality and booth personnel hotness? Sawdust City was manned by a guy sporting a handlebar mustache and a giant dude with a mullet. That drew me like a magnet, and now we will never not order their beer if we see it on a menu.
By the time we walked down to King, I needed two things: a little more food in my belly, and a urinal. Beerbistro fit the bill on both counts (bonus: at Beerbistro you can watch vintage beer ads on screens above the urinals, and marvel at just how racist advertising used to be!) and we turned out to be hungrier than we’d thought. Then we walked home, drank a Muskoka Summer Weisse on the patio. Not long after that we nodded off and slept for ten hours. Summer!