Just inside the thick wooden doors of the Beer Academy, a large chalkboard is decked out for the launch of Toronto Beer Week.
The place is one of 70 bars and restaurants and 35 breweries participating in the city-wide event, which runs until Saturday.
At least four of them — including the Beer Academy at 75 Victoria St. — are close to campus. Other venues include 3 Brewers by Yonge-Dundas Square, Bar Volo at the intersection of Yonge and Wellesley streets and the Stout Irish Pub at Carlton and Parliament streets.
The beer week’s open-door approach sets it apart from many other local beer-related festivals. Rather than bringing vendors together in a single location, the festival takes place in the breweries and the bars themselves.
Many featured watering holes are expected to offer limited, one-off brews, of which only one keg is made.
The Beer Academy said it will be serving up three special, limited-edition brews.
For the few who get a glass, the coconut-vanilla-chocolate imperial stout is being released on day one. Attendees may also try a limited-edition peach saison and a passion fruit India Pale Ale.
“These are… very small batches,” said Richard Beer, general manager at the Beer Academy.
In addition to the beer itself, many participating venues will also be offering some unique events. For its part, the Beer Academy will be hosting a comedy night and a retro games night, in which people can nerd out on Nintendo 64 while sipping the academy’s limited-edition drinks.
Select venues will be hosting a variety of live music events. Many are creating special food menus that pair well with featured drinks.
Newbies need not be intimidated: members of the craft beer scene appear to have a very inclusive attitude.
“We’re an unpretentious and welcoming space,” Beer said. “We enjoy teaching anyone that wants to learn, whether it’s about the beer we make here or just beer in general.”
If you decide to jump into the craft beer world, the academy’s website provides a little beer evaluation cheat sheet that might give you somewhere to start.