Coincidentally, I find myself in the Greater Toronto Area this week — just as Ontario Craft Beer Week is getting going and beer lovers all across the province are heading down to their local pubs and breweries for a variety of events.
Or so goes the theory. The note I shot off via Twitter yesterday from downtown Toronto asking for a recommendation of events to attend last night only got one response (well, aside from OCB itself pointing to an article on Torontoist). The recommendation? Don’t bother. Fellow beer blogger Greg Clow noted that the line-up of events this year is weak; and upon further scrutiny of the events list, I think he’s right.
But it’s not all bad news. Except maybe for OCB Week itself.
As Clow, who is certainly more tuned into the Toronto beer community than I am, wrote during a Twitter discussion that the breweries seem to be stretched too thin when it comes to events, so OCB Week got a pass. Or if it didn’t get a pass, some of the breweries simply put on a basic event in the “come taste our one-off” style.
The good news, though, is this means OCB Week has, in effect, done its job. When I left Toronto a little more than two years ago, the number of beer events every month was rapidly increasing — really, to the point that a single beer blogger couldn’t hope to attend them all.
Two years later, my social media feeds are buzzing with new beer events every single week in the Greater Toronto Area. From beer tastings to cask nights to pairing dinners, Toronto seems to truly have become the Canadian headquarters of beer events, if not beer.
But the other good news is that OCB Week, which was once Toronto-centric, has expanded. Take a gander at the list of events, and you’ll see that OCB Week events have stretched out to the suburbs of Toronto and beyond, encompassing much of Southern Ontario. Northern Ontario is another story, but to be fair, there are very few craft breweries that far north.
For OCB Week, though, this means it’s just another week of beer events; and perhaps it’s too much trouble for breweries to go out of their way to do something special in the week following Father’s Day.
Or maybe OCB Week is simply having an off year.
It has been going strong for the last four years (this year marked the fifth annual OCB Week). And as a promotional string of events for Ontario Craft Brewers‘ members, it has indeed been a success. It may also be the victim of its own success, finding itself unnecessary in the grand scheme of things within the ever-growing craft beer industry.