College Beer & BBQ Festival

I have been putting in many long hours helping to organize a beer festival at the college, our first.

We first had the idea of doing a beer festival about a year ago — the kind where, you know, there’s a tent with beer, and you buy beer and drink it. The graduating Brewmaster students would be responisble for organizing it.

It was a simple idea. But somehow things got complicated.

First someone had the idea that we should invite 12 craft breweries to the festival.

And then someone thought Ted Reader should invite some of his barbecue buddies to come up to Canada and make some food for the festival.

(Ted Reader is a Canadian barbecue chef well-known to those who watch cooking shows. He also teaches in the culinary program at Niagara College. Apparently he often travels down into the States for those big barbecue festivals, and meets fellow celebrity chefs there.)

Okay, add six celebrity chefs to the programme. Oh, and can we get four gators from Louisiana across the border? And there’s the small matter of the barbecue pit that somehow got dug into the college lawn without telling the college authorities about it–the barbecue pit that will be slow-cooking lamb and goat all night.

Then someone had the idea of connecting a beer competition — Niagara College’s first — to the beer festival. It would be a competition open to all brewers, both pro and homebrewer. Then another wrinkle was added — all graduating Brewmaster students would have to enter a beer into the competition…. And they would also have to judge the beers according the BJCP guidelines. (BJCP stands for Beer Judge Certification Program, and is a system of rating beer according to specific guidelines about how each style of beer should look and taste.)

When all was said and done, we had a beer and BBQ festival with a beer competition on the side. It has been a complex undertaking. However, I am not going to take you through the whole song and dance of how it got organized.

Instead, I’m simply inviting you to attend:

  • BBQBeer & BBQ Festival
  • 12 craft brewers + 23 student-made beers
  • 6 celebrity chefs and another 4 chef professors, all making mouth-watering BBQ food
  • Saturday, April 12, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Niagara College (Niagara on the Lake campus, 135 Taylor Rd.)
  • Free admission
  • If you want to drink beer (and if you’re reading this column, of course you’re planning to drink beer) you have to buy a Festival glass for $10, but that includes your first three beer samples. After that beer samples cost $2 each and food samples cost $3 each.

Hey, when was the last time you got to sample bacon-wrapped gator?


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