I had two goals in mind while attending the 2009 ASAE Annual Meeting in Toronto from August 15-18:
- learn from and connect with my fellow association professionals
- explore the beer scene in Toronto!
After checking into the Fairmont Royal York on Saturday, August 15, I walked over to a meeting at the convention center. On the way, I grabbed a quick lunch at The Loose Moose Tap and Grill where I tried my first Canadian beer of the trip: Alexander Keith’s IPA (Halifax, Nova Scotia).
Later that evening at the opening reception of the Meeting, I was pleased to find Canadian micros well represented. I started with a Steam Whistle Pilsner (Toronto, Ontario) and also enjoyed two bottles from Mill Street Brewery (Toronto, Ontario): Original Organic (pilsner) and Tankhouse Ale (pale ale).
My primary destination on this trip was a brewpub I had visited on my last two trips to Toronto in 1998 and 2000, C’est What? I made this cozy basement brewpub my last stop of the night on Saturday. C’est What? is one of my favorite brewpubs because not only do they have an excellent selection of high quality house beers, but they also have a wide selection of guest microbrews. Unfortunately, they don’t offer a sampler rack, but they do serve half-pints and I had three:
- Al’s Cask Ale, a west-coast style pale ale from C’est What?
- Hazelnut Chocolate Ale, a delicious dark ale from C’est What?
- Hop Head, an IPA from Durham Brewery in Pickering, Ontario
I wish I had more time to spend at C’est What? because the beer selection is sooo good. Check the menu to see for yourself. I still regret not finding time for a return visit to C’est What? on this trip.
On Sunday, August 16, I attended a reception and dinner at the Mill Street Brewpub in the historic Distillery District of Toronto. I liked the bottles of Mill Street brew that I had at the reception the night before, and I enjoyed the brewery’s draft beers even better. I sampled:
- Belgian Wit
- Lemon Tea Ale
- Belgian Peche (Belgian style peach wheat )
The Lemon Tea Ale was one of the most interesting beers that I’ve ever had. It tastes just as the name implies, like lemon tea. And it was awesome! I could have easily downed several of these — very smooth and drinkable. I’ll be visiting Mill Street Brewpub again the next time I’m in Toronto.
The 2009 ASAE Annual Meeting’s Food and Wine Classic was on Monday night, August 18. This is a really fun event with great food, drink, and music. Don’t let the name fool you – they served excellent beer in addition to the wine. The event was essentially a street party that spanned the entire Distillery District. Of course I found my way to the Mill Street Brewpub where I drank one of their beers I hadn’t tried yet, Balzac’s Coffee Porter. I mostly enjoyed the Mill Street Wit and hoppy Tankhouse Ale on this fine evening.
Despite visiting two brewpubs and sampling about a dozen beers, I left Toronto feeling like I didn’t maximize my opportunity, as there were two other brewpubs on my list that I didn’t get to. The upside: I already have a return trip planned for September 2010.
I’ll end this post with a shout out to all of my ASAE friends who I raised a pint glass with on this trip — Todd, Kerri, Karen, Tina, Leonard, Frank, Eric, Luke, and Scott. See you in LA in August 2010!