By Adam Slight, Brian Clarke & Tyler Klementti
This past weekend, a number of the Ottawa Rickshaws team paid a visit to Winterbrewed. In fact, Adam liked the St. Ambroise Maple beer so much that he wrote praise to this brew yesterday.
Today, we want to provide a fuller review of our time at Winterbrewed. The three of us have each outlined some of our favourite experiences at the inaugural Ottawa event:
If we had to choose one brew to drink for the entire festival, which would it be?
Adam: The St. Ambroise Maple Ale stole the show for me. It was the last beer that I tried, and I used my last beer token to purchase it. Had I known earlier, I would have at least splurged on an 8oz serving instead of the standard 4oz. That said, I also liked the Oatmeal Stout from ABC, and the hot stout in the warm up tent (something I’ve never tried before, but was welcome on a cold day).
Brian: I’m going to have to agree with Adam’s post from yesterday. The St. Ambroise Maple beer was simply fantastic. I’m going out on a limb and saying it was one of the best beers I’ve ever tried. Delicious, thick, and incredibly smooth.
Tyler: The St. Ambroise Maple was definitely up there, no competition. Something about it was smooth and filling. But in order to add some variety I also really enjoyed the Broadhead Seasonal Fruitcake Ale. It definitely had a unique taste, but very good. Like the Maple beer, the Fruitcake was filling and thick, but a little less smooth.
While every beer we tried was awesome and it’s difficult to pinpoint a ‘least awesome’ brew, we still try to identify which beer we enjoyed a little less than the others.
Adam: I can’t say there was anything that disappointed me, although I was most attracted to the smaller breweries (and therefore distanced myself from the larger ones).
Brian: I finished the bottom half of my girlfriend’s Stella. Who orders a Stella at a microbrew festival?
Tyler: I honestly don’t remember the one I didn’t like. I know I didn’t like it though. I used the hot beer (which was also really delicious) to wash it down so I would forget it. Whoops.
Adam: I feel like the festival could have been visually more appealing. At a glance, Winterbrewed appeared as a collection of tents on a street and not a festival for celebrating local beer. While it tasted, smelled and sounded like a great winter celebration, visually it was lacking.
Brian: I understand that this was the first festival of its kind in Ottawa and it was probably treated as a test run. That being said, I think it was fairly successful – enough that we can expand this festival in the future to be longer than one weekend, and potentially multiple festivals (maybe a summer one too?).
Tyler: The cold weather sucked. I get that it works with the play on the name “Winter-whatever”, but c’mon! Who wants to drink cold beer outside in the middle of the winter? Sure, you go for the experience of drinking freely on the street, and the whole idea of trying new beers. But why couldn’t they make it its own event in the summer? Make it longer than two days, like Brian said, and have new beers every day. It would still only cost the one time entrance fee, but then people would come back everyday!
Adam: One thing that really stood out for me at Winterbrewed was the strong sense of community that the festival facilitated—stronger than I have probably ever experienced in Ottawa even. Tyler and I found ourselves in many conversations with strangers, asking “What beer is that?” or “Where did you get that hot beer?” The line up for admission and tokens (which were quite affordable!) was fairly long and cold, but it moved quickly and created a bonding experience for everyone in line, who were all there based on a common interest. All-in-all, this was a great festival that really brought the community together.
Brian: The whole idea of drinking outdoors in a public, but controlled, environment was amazing, despite the cold weather. That being said, I wish I went before the sun went down, but otherwise had an amazing time.
Tyler: It was great, but the cold definitely got to me. Luckily they made up for it with the hot beer. But the freeing feeling of walking around and enjoying not just who you’re with but everyone around you – suggesting beers, asking where you got your beer, is really awesome. For that short period of time, you become a part of this whole new community willing to share your new feelings, likes and dislikes, with people who are there for the same reasons.