Brantford ‘s enthusiasm for craft brew is showing no signs of slowing down just because the summer is. The second annual Brantford Beer Fest will be taking place Saturday, September 9 at Knights of Columbus, from 3-11pm. I had the chance to catch up with Ben Feuerstein, who along with friend Chris Wagner, is one of the organizers of this growing event. Popular in cities like Toronto and Hamilton, they felt that Brantford was deserving of their own festival to celebrate and promote our local contributions to the beer scene. Both guys, lifelong Brantford residents, are home brewers themselves and drinkers of craft beer. Last year took they took a chance and decided to create the festival.
I asked Ben why he thinks craft beer is becoming so popular. “I think after the large breweries were popular for so long, people wanted more variety. You get the opportunity to experiment with craft beer and get different flavours- it’s like cooking in a sense.” Craft beer has its roots in the home brewing hobby and has blossomed in recent years to see small to medium sized craft breweries opening up all around. The experience usually involves live music, food, and a cool vibe. “The culture is good- whatever brewery you go to, the staff and patrons are there to have a good time and the support local effort.” Often craft beers are made using only a few ingredients- hops, grain, water and yeast- and many of those ingredients can be sourced from local farms or are seasonal, providing the freshest taste possible.
The day will again include a ‘Home brew Competition’, which last year had an exciting outcome. “Joe Mrav, who won the home brew competition at our festival last year, is opening up Grain and Grit Brewery in Hamilton in the fall!” says Ben. “A lot of craft brewers started as a hobby, and then it gets too big for the kitchen.”
This year’s festival includes 9 breweries- local favourites Bell City Brewing and Mash Paddle, along with beers from Hamilton, Langton, and Dundas amongst others. There will also be food trucks, live music, and vendors. Similar to last year, Ben and Chris have dedicated the event is in support of the Grand Erie chapter of the MS Society of Canada. The society is one that hits close to home for them. “We want to give back and to show our love of craft and the community.”
Tickets for the event are available in Brantford at Bell City Brewing Co and Mash Paddle Brewing Co, The Olive Oil Co., Janvier Salon, Knights of Columbus, Maria’s Pizza West, at Shawn & Ed Brewing Co. in Dundas, and at the door on the day of the festival.