Craft beer festival highlights local brews and foods in Ottawa

Just two of many craft beers featured at this weekend's festival. Photo: Lucy Martin

Just two of many craft beers featured at this weekend’s festival. Photo: Lucy Martin

On paper at least, mid-August probably charts as a brilliant time to hold a beer festival, like the National Capital Craft Beer Festival, taking place in Ottawa this weekend – like, right now!

Regrettably, as I wrote this the projected high for Friday was no higher than 15C/69F. (Ugh!)

OK, that’s not the greatest beer-drinking weather ever. Although the weekend looks warmer still and summer is not dead yet. Besides, beer works year-round, right?

I was about to throw in the famous line attributed to Benjamin Franklin (“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”) except that’s a mis-mash. According to Bryce Eddings at About, Franklin said no such thing, though he wrote something really close:

“Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”

Wine, beer, even rain. It’s all good.

The Ottawa beer event will, of course, spotlight local craft brews. And food. But the Ottawa Citizen says the third annual event includes a “solid musical line up”, as detailed in this schedule. It’s happening at City Hall’s Marion Dewer Plaza, 110 Laurier Ave, West. (Admission charges apply, must be 19 or older for entry.)

The new book by Alan McLeod and Jordan St. John

The new book by Alan McLeod and Jordan St. John.

While on the topic of regional brewing, I wanted to mention that Kingston beer blogger (and long-time friend of the station) Alan McLeod has a new book out, co-written by Jordan St. John, Ontario Beer: A Heady History of Brewing from the Great Lakes to the Hudson Bay.

Truth be told, after a sip or two, I don’t even like beer. But it’s such a common part of life, and seems like such an exciting aspect of the local food movement, that I often wish I did! See what I mean by way of the book’s summary:

Ontario boasts a potent mix of brewing traditions. Wherever Europeans explored, battled, and settled, beer was not far behind, which brought the simple magic of brewing to Ontario in the 1670s. Early Hudson’s Bay Company traders brewed in Canada’s Arctic, and Loyalist refugees brought the craft north in the 1780s. Early 1900s temperance activists drove the industry largely underground but couldn’t dry up the quest to quench Ontarians’ thirst. The heavy regulation that replaced prohibition centralized surviving breweries. Today, independent breweries are booming and writing their own chapters in the Ontario beer story.

Sample sections expounding on that blend of hops and history can be previewed online too.

It’s a similar tale on both sides of the border, of course. As Brian Mann reported last September, craft beers are exploding across the North Country, creating jobs and recognition of the area.

Responsible drinkers can therefore hoist a few frothy mugs while taking satisfaction in stimulating local economic diversity.

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