The revival of the craft beer industry has been warmly welcomed by beer drinkers, from the casual to the connoisseur. It is marked by the surge in micro-breweries and festivals, the ever-expanding lists on restaurant drink menus, and the growth of craft sections in the liquor and beer stores, the colourful array of cans as unique as the story behind each of them.
This renaissance comes at a time when beer drinkers buy in to the branding and storytelling as much (if not more than) the drink itself. Visiting a local brasserie becomes a souvenir of its own, with store bought cans offering a reminder of a time and place. It comes at a time when the the local food movement is at its peak and shows no signs of slowing. For the folks behind MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co., who have been farming the same land for seven generations, it doesn’t get much more local than growing your hops and grains.
The annual beer festival at their farm just north of the village of Bath is an invitation by the farmer-brewers to come enjoy the fruits of their labour. It feels like the warming, welcome embrace of an old friend or neighbour, a wave of the hand to come back to the farm and catch up over a cup of coffee (or in this case, a refreshing Strawberry Wheat).
Friends, acquaintances and strangers alike gather in friendly mobs around the beer vendors (proving that Canadianism about how friendly we all are, especially around a pint). A leisurely stroll around the perimeter of the festival grounds reveals local businesses, craftspeople, and a stretch of hops that dangle like an overzealous string of pearls plant. During this walk it’s impossible to ignore the tantalizing food aromas that waft across the field; it’s enough to make you imagine a cartoon version of yourself floating through the air, tongue out and drifting towards the food trucks.
It should come as no surprise that an event like this sold out two years in a row. Cold beer on a hot afternoon, the fresh air mingling with culinary delights amid the constant hum of toe-tapping harmonies and energetic cheering. A day in the sun among friends and neighbours–I’d be hard pressed to find a better way to wrap up the end of summer.