Review: Premium Beer Experience at Berkeley Church

Last week I was invited to attend the Premium Beer Experience at Berkeley Church as part of Toronto Beer Week. The event, a highlight of Toronto Beer Week, had 14 craft breweries serving beers that either haven’t hit the Beer Store yet or were brewed specially for the event. Beer tickets were $1 each and most beers were only 1 ticket for a 4 ounce sample cup.

The Berkeley Church was the perfect venue. I have a hard time thinking what this venue wouldn’t be perfect for. The Church itself is a gorgeous building with two levels. The outer garden and field house were open and breezy. Once I could get over the fact that I was drinking beer in a church, I had a lot of fun exploring the venue.

Our friend Angela from iYellow Wine Tours was there too! We stopped in for a taste of Ontario VQA wines and chatted with her about iYellow’s upcoming fall series of wine tours. I’m offering a discount on fall iYellow wine tours. More on that here.

My bearded dates for the night helped me sample my way through the Premium Beer Experience. Jordan is into darker, more hoppier beers and is always on the hunt for an interesting India Pale Ale, and Greg loves a good stout. I’m not a big fan of either, so it was great to have their opinions on each beer we drank as well.

Highlights:

Spearhead Hawaiian Style Pale Ale: The general consensus among my friends and I is that this beer was far better at the Premium Beer Experience than it is when we order it at bars, for whatever reason. This is a sweeter beer with a citrusy taste. You can almost immediately pick out the taste of pineapple. This beer went down easy and was one of the few that we were all pleasantly surprised with.

Flying Monkey’s Stereo Vision: This was one of my most anticipated brews of the evening and it definitely lived up to the hype. Billed as an amber ale, the taste was hoppy and complex without being bitter. There are definite notes of a citrus flavour and this one went down so smooth that I immediately got in line for a refill. This beer hits the LCBO this fall!

St-Ambroise Citrouille (Pumpkin Ale):Β While my fall season is usually marked by my first Pumpkin Spice Latte, I was happy to trade it in for a Pumpkin Ale by St-Ambroise this year. The spiced pumpkin and caramel flavour is enough to be festive but not overbearing. I’m hoping to have a few more of these treats before fall makes way for winter.

Wellington Brewery Imperial Chocolate Milk Stout – While I’m not a huge fan of stouts, the boys really enjoyed this one and I certainly didn’t mind the sip I stole! The stout tasted thick and milky, with a heavy cocoa flavour.

One criticism: I wish there had been more food options at the event. There were sliders and fries/poutine but it would have been nice to see more options, especially more imaginative ones that incorporated beer batter or wine in the cooking.

I thought this event was a lot like Toronto Festival of Beer, although on a much smaller scale and without the large crowds, which was a huge bonus to me. The venue was gorgeous, the weather was beautiful, and the beer vendors were friendly and talkative. Security was around, but didn’t bother us once and unlike other Toronto beer events, we didn’t feel like we were being steered like cattle around licensed and unlicensed areas. High fives to Power Juncture for organizing this flawless event and for being fantastic hosts for the evening!

If this post is getting you in the mood for some brews, check out my post on Steamwhistle’s Oktoberfest or get a discount on tickets to Toronto Oktoberfest (although really you should come to both)!

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