by jc

Ottawa’s first Winterbrewed craft beer festival went down yesterday.  As the city’s Winterlude comes to a close, heaps of beer enthusiasts descended on the usually dull Sparks Street to sample brews and foodie treats.

winterbrewed 1

I find the Sparks Street pedestrian mall to be a true shame in this city.  It has so much potential but yet can’t seem to attract many cool or hip businesses.  Like, who even goes to HMV anymore?  If the super awesome Greco gym weren’t there I would seldom venture down that way.  Oh except if they actually put in the rumoured zip line – which, for the record, I think is an insane idea but I would definitely still want to try it.

Recently there has been some effort made to hold crowd-attracting events on the street.  Most noteably, thousands came out to see The Arkells play a free NYE show.  However, consistent with the mall’s sleepy status, the giant “HAPPY NEW YEAR’S EVE” signs were only being taken down this past Thursday, likely to make room for the beer festival that was going to be taking place two days later.  Why freshen things up until absolutely necessary, right?  Blah.

Despite the frigid weather, some friends and I skated down the canal, from Dow’s Lake to Rideau Street, to check out what Winterbrewed had to offer.

Gettin thirsty

Gettin thirsty

The crowds were out in full force but the wait in line wasn’t too long to get a bracelet and cup (necessary to purchase beer).  The set up was much the same as the wine show – get a re-fillable cup and buy tokens to use at beer and food stands.

I was too cold after the skate to take out my phone to take pictures, so there’s a definite lack of photographic documentation – sorry!

Mill Street tent party

Mill Street tent party

The Spearhead tent was the highlight for me.  The three beers they currently have available (Hawaiian Pale Ale, Moroccan Brown Ale and the newest Belgian Stout) are all extremely unique and delicious.  Upon tasting their brews, one gets the urge to immediately sit down to perfectly paired meal to go along with the beverage.  I find the Hawaiian to be a bit much after one beer but I could drink the Belgian and the Moroccan allllll night long.

The Mill Street tent was definitely the place to hang out.  Some genius over there realized that packing in as many gas heaters as possible would draw people in from the arctic temps outside.  They were so right and I ended up using the majority of my tokens there because of the warmth.

My saviour

My saviour

I consider myself somewhat of a poutine connoisseur (it WILL be served at my wedding) and Spud’s Poutinerie was serving an unbelievably yummy version of my favourite Canadian treat.  I can’t wait to check out one of their restaurants in Ottawa, their Piggy Smalls [pulled pork] poutine is far too tempting to pass up!

Mouths full o' poutine

Mouths full o’ poutine

Overall this event was great but one had to be very cold tolerant to enjoy it.  Hand and foot warmers are a must for next year!