I’ve spoken before of my love for the Sonic Unyon dream team. They already have their hands full with Supercrawl, Seven Sundays in Gage Park, Hamilton Blues and Roots Festival, new venue Mills Hardware, and they were behind the special Arkells and Boris Brott pop-up show in July. Phew! They’re the best.
They added another event to their repertoire this summer – Because Beer. The craft beer festival was a two-day event in picturesque Pier 4 Park. The Waterfront is absolutely one of my favourite spots in the city and I was thrilled to hear when they chose it as their location. The fest ran Friday 4-11pm and Saturday noon-8pm. I attended on the Saturday for a full day of beer and food truck action!
Meeting up with my friends Celina and Lyanne, we staked out a shady spot with some lawn chairs (good call, girls!) and made that our home base for the day. With the price of admission came a beer mug and four sample tokens. One token got you half a sample and two got you a mug full. Additional tokens could be purchased on-site for a dollar a piece.
The best tactic – divide and conquer, then report back to the group! The three of us tried to seek out beers we hadn’t tried before. We all prefer a lighter fare, and two huge highlights for us were the Grapefruit Radler by Waterloo Brewing Co. and the Rhubarb Saison by Wellington Brewery. So summery and refreshing! I had to seek out the Grapefruit Radler another day at the store (a Wikipedia search at the time also taught us what a radler is)!
The first brewery I beelined for, however, was Collective Arts Brewing. The brewery’s branding is a favourite of mine, with their unique bottles featuring original artwork that is submitted as well as the coolest indie bands. Collective Arts are set to open here in the Port of Hamilton this fall, which is very exciting! I can’t wait to visit the space. After sampling their “Rhyme & Reason,” I had to track this one down for purchase at the store too. Some of the other brews we tried were from Beau’s Brewing, Nickel Brook, and Great Lakes Brewery.
Any festival wouldn’t be complete without the music. The previous night saw Terra Lightfoot and Harlan Pepper performing, and the day I went I got to see Ginger St. James, The Tallest Tree, and Dinner Belles. You can always count on Sonic Unyon for a solid lineup. The music, the setting, the weather, people, good food and brews – everything came together so nicely.
As we neared the end, it was down to the wire and we had one token a piece left. Celina and I decided to wander in different directions, and of all the breweries in all the park, we ended up approaching the same one at the same time. Two guys came up in line behind us and one guy asked which brewery this was. My eyes flicked up at the sign and as soon as I read Double Trouble Brewing, my brain went, “Uh oh,” immediately anticipating the guy’s next line. Sure enough, “Are you girls double trouble?” Ha!
But seriously – everyone was so well behaved and as far as I could see, the fest was incident-free. That would have to be an added stress at a festival where alcohol is involved, but it was a very peaceful, happy time. The people were passionate about their craft beer!
Again, my hats off to the Sonic Unyon team and all of the volunteers. This is the beginning of a fantastic tradition and it was one of my favourite days this summer. Cheers!