Toronto, Ontario – It’s rare to spot beer geeks and oenophiles together in the wild. But Toronto’s newest drinks festival is out to change that by uniting them over the newest flavour zone in food and drink: funk.
“Fermentation—and those tart, fruity and earthy flavours that come with it—is captivating oenophiles and hopheads alike,” says festival co-founder and drinks writer, Tara Luxmore, “so we figured why not bring them together in one delicious celebration.”
On the evening of June 9th Wild Things Fest will take over the Propeller Coffee space in West Toronto. The festival’s co-founders, all accredited beer sommeliers, carefully-curated a selection of 15 Ontario craft beers and artisanal ciders, and partnered with biodynamic wine importer, The Living Vine, to select natural wines from around the globe. Everything being poured at the fest is fermented with indigenous or wild yeast strains.
The inaugural event will feature two sessions, Session 1 from 6-9pm and Session 2 from 10pm-1am. Tickets are $35 and include a souvenir tasting glass from sponsor Stoneycreek glassware and three drink tickets. Tickets are on sale now.
A Fermented Farmers Market will feature wild food and indie designers. And imbibers can fill up on southern-style barbecue by Uncle Smoke Cookhouse, who will be handing out free pickles with every dish. While media sponsor Toronto Life is presenting a Wild-Fermented Craft Cider Bar.
Wild-fermentation is having a moment: Toronto’s Grey Gardens pours only natural wines and funky ciders, and it’s only a matter of time before New York City’s trend of natural wine bars like the celebrated Ten Bells and Wildair migrates north. Experimental cideries like Guelph’s Revel Cider Co., and Hamilton’s West Avenue Cider House only use indigenous yeasts found on the fruit skin, to ferment their ciders. While the beer world is seeing a few wild-only breweries opening up, including Beau’s Brewery offshoot Halcyon Barrel House, which was just named one of 2017’s Top 10 New Breweries in the World by Ratebeer.com.
“Wild fermentation just adds layers of complexity to your favourite drink,” says Festival Co-Founder Erica Campbell. “In some drinks, it comes across as a mild earthiness, maybe overripe fruit, in others it’s more like a racy kombucha-like tartness or bright tropical fruit, and in others still, there’s a hint of barnyard funk.”
The boutique festival is being organized by Bellmore Productions, founded by Erica Campbell, Tara Luxmore and Crystal Luxmore. Campbell works in Sales at Henderson Brewing and is the co-founder and runs The Society of Beer Drinking Ladies: the largest women & beer event company in North America. Crystal and Tara Luxmore are national drinks writers who run Beer Sisters Inc., a cider and beer tastings and education company in Toronto.