The event kitchen at the Summerhill LCBO was packed yesterday at lunch by those there to raise a glass for the opening of the third annual Ontario Craft Beer Week. This promotion put on by the Ontario Craft Brewers and their 29 member breweries features everything from weekend-long bbq festivals to intimate dinners paired with niche one-off beers.
The schedule has grown to include events in 40 communities across Ontario. Some days there are three or four events that I'd like to hit, if I could and to help sort through the list we created this preview for the week.
Anetta Jewell of Great Lakes Brewery and Cam Heaps from Steam Whistle welcomed guests and offered an interesting perspective on what the OCB does as an organisation. Heaps's speech had a definite job-creation angle to it and he offered the statistic while "craft breweries in Ontario are 3% of the market, we have 25% of the jobs and 100% of the job growth."
Keriwa's Cafe's Chef Aaron Joseph Bear Robe cooked a selection of light appetizers for the event and Pine River Cheese Co. provided some of their product for guests to sample.
The LCBO's fanciest Toronto location was an appropriate place to host this event given that their sales of Ontario craft beer grew by 45% last year. As Bob Downey, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, noted that's the seventh year of double-growth for OCB sales through a generally flat beer market.
Outside of OCB Week, the LCBO will also be running their annual "I Love Canada" promotion that will prominently feature Canadian spirits, wine, and of course beer. Later in the summer, from mid-July to mid-August, they'll have their beer promotion running and then into the fall expect see the beers from a selection of craft brewers in displays.
According to LCBO press releases these promotion do help boost sales. But what I keep hearing craft breweries say is what they really need from the government-monopoly is a larger and more consistent allocation of space in the refrigerated cases.
What beer was in the clinking glasses at the launch? To recognise the friendly nature of craft brewing it naturally was a collaboration. Great Lakes, Amsterdam, and Steam Whistle got together and created the delicious GTA Farmhouse Collaboration.
Written by David Ort
As one of Spotlight’s contributing editors, David enjoys turning his mind (and keyboard) to a wide variety of topics ranging from recipes to restaurants to craft beer. When he’s not writing for Spotlight Toronto, David shares his thoughts on new restaurants and beer at PostCity.com and all things food and drink on his own site, Food With Legs.