I was happy to attend the 8th edition of the BarTowel's Golden Tap Awards this weekend. This year it was expanded to a 2-day event, with a beer dinner on Friday and the awards and tasting festival on the Saturday, all at the impressive Beer Bistro in downtown Toronto.
The beer dinner was phenomenal. The pairings were thoughtful, the beer was wonderful and the crowd was enthusiastic. The awards were great, too, and I'm very proud and humbled to say that we took home the awards for best year-round beer and best microbrewery in Ontario again as well as picking up the award for winning last year's best beer of the festival.
I had a particularly interesting conversation at the awards with a fellow named Trevor. It was his bachelor party and he successfully convinced his whole crew of fellows to spend an hour sampling Ontario craft beer before heading off for the rest of their festivities.
I have recently been talking about the possibility of creating a beer revolution in Ontario where Ontarians would drink independent, Ontario-made beer half of the time. Most of my critics insist that the so-called "regular" customer will only ever purchase the cheapest blandest beer available. Here was my counter-position in the flesh - one guy who had been turned on to the awesomeness of Ontario beer, doing missionary work with his buddies, introducing them to what we have to offer.
On my way back from the festivities in Toronto, I got a call from the home front to let me know of some very bizarre and rather bad news. We were very excited to be sponsoring the Ottawa Reggae Festival for the first time this year (I'm a huge ska and roots reggae fan), but apparently this will also be the last year. The headliners all backed out and the police stormed the gates and seized all the money on hand and effectively shut down the festival. We had to send guys down to protect the rest of our beer until we could get it out.
We're still scratching our heads and wondering what our lesson to learn from this is. We've pretty much been a hand-shake type of company and events like this make you question whether we need to be less trusting of new festivals, or just understand that risk is inherent in business and deal with it. Oh well, interesting conversations, at least.