17+ beer festivals to toast in Ontario, Quebec and New York

Do you love craft beer, food truck fare and live music? Then you’re in luck: It’s the season of beer festivals!

A brand-new event coming to Orléans this weekend is just one of many, many beer festivals on the schedule this spring, summer and fall. In fact, there are four coming up this weekend alone.

Raise a glass in Orléans

Orleans Craft Beer Festival beer festivals

At the launch the Orléans Craft Beer Festival, from left to right: Kevin Hurtubise and Alana Baker, co-founders, Orléans Festivals; mayor Jim Watson; deputy mayor Bob Monette; Marie-France Lalonde, MPP for Ottawa–Orléans; and city councillor Stephen Blais. Photo courtesy of the Orléans Craft Beer Festival.

The inaugural Orléans Craft Beer Festival (June 9 to 11) is the newest festival on the summer calendar. Why did the organizers think Orléans was ripe for a sudsfest? “We’re trying to give back to the community,” says co-founder Alana Baker, noting that many of the vendors are based in Orléans.

The 19 participating breweries include two brand-new Orléans companies. Stray Dog Brewing Company makes a California Common-style beer called The One, while Orléans Brewing Company’s flagship product is an American pale ale. Local food vendors include LunchBox, a gourmet sandwich shop, and Occo Kitchen, which serves treats like garlic herb fries with citrus chipotle mayonnaise.

Rock on at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau


The Gatineau Beer Festival (Festibière de Gatineau) takes over the grounds of the Canadian Museum of History this weekend (June 8 to 10). You can sample some of the 350 types of beer from more than 30 breweries, along with music by Coleman Hell, Daniel Boucher, the Lost Fingers and other music acts. Food trucks will be on hand to serve up treats such as tacos, cheese sticks, crab cakes and poutine of all descriptions (shrimp, duck, chili, bacon…). The video above, from the 2016 festival, gives you a taste of the fun.

Try new-to-you beers at Fort Henry

Kingston beer festivals

Photo courtesy of the YGK Craft Beer Fest.

On Saturday, June 10, the YGK Craft Beer Fest will take over Fort Henry National Historic Site in Kingston. Since it’s the official after-party of a 5K race called the Cannonball Crush, there will be lots of runners in the crowd, but you don’t have to be an athlete to attend. In fact, you don’t even have to like beer, as vendors will also be serving Ontario-made cider, wine and vodka.

This year, the number of food vendors has grown to 18, serving specialties such as pizza cooked in a mobile wood-fired oven. The live entertainment roster includes female country duo The Lovelocks and alt-country/blues performer JJ Shiplett.

Focus on indies in Peterborough

Kawartha Craft Beer Festival Peterborough beer festivals

Photo courtesy of the Kawartha Craft Beer Festival.

Also coming up this weekend, the Kawartha Craft Beer Festival (June 9 and 10) will be setting up its kegs in Millennium Park in Peterborough, beside the Otonobee River. The festival tries “to focus on the smaller brewers in the region, some that you may not find in LCBOs or beer stores,” says festival spokesperson Kim Cranfield. Three of the 11 beverage vendors—Haliburton Highlands Brewing, Lake of Bays Brewing Company and Empire Cider Company—are new to the festival this year. Other newcomers include three of the four food vendors, whose clever takes on festival fare include pulled pork in a savoury waffle cone (from Port Perry Smokehouse) and stout-flavoured cupcakes (from Sweet Spirits).

As a side note: I always think Peterborough is farther from Ottawa than it actually is. It’s just a scenic 3.5-hour drive down Highway 7.

More beer festivals to try

The four events above are just a few of the beer festivals you can sample this season; here are some of the rest. Enjoy—and don’t drink and drive!

Cornwall Ontario Summer Beer Fest beer festivals

Photo courtesy of the Cornwall Summer Beer Fest.

  • Ottawa Beer Fest (June 16 to 18): This event at Lansdowne Park will showcase more than 30 breweries, wineries and cider makers from Canada and Europe. On Saturday morning, you can even kick off your beer-tasting day with a yoga class.
  • Cornwall Summer Beer Fest (June 24): Canadian hip-hop star Classified is the headliner at this one-day fest, where the amusements also include a craft market and lawn games.
  • Kanata Festival of Beer (June 30 and July 1): This Canada Day weekend party at Walter Baker Park has a packed musical lineup, including Finger Eleven, Tomi Swick, The Start, Cannons and Daisy Train.
  • Toronto’s Festival of Beer (July 28 to 30)
  • Plattsburgh Brewfest (August 5): You can bring your tent or RV to this festival at the Clinton County Fairgrounds, which features some 40 breweries, wineries, cider makers and food vendors from New York state and Vermont.
Plattsburgh Brewfest beer festivals cider

Photo courtesy of the Plattsburgh Brewfest.

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