Durham Craft Brewing Festival at Oshawa’s Children’s Arena: good for what ‘ale’s’ you

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Published June 5, 2023 at 1:32 pm

Happy patrons at the Durham Craft Beer Festival in Oshawa. Photo Glenn Hendry

Durham Craft Beer Festival co-owner Jeff Davis is calling this year’s edition a “huge success” after more than 400 beer lovers converged on Children’s Arena in Oshawa to sample beer, cider and liquor from 15 different vendors.

After Davis and his partner, Murielle Leonard, bought the festival rights from founder Darryl Koster last year and held the first festival in four years at the Biltmore Theatre downtown, this year’s event was moved a few kilometres to the west to a bigger space at Children, on the grounds of the Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens.

“A huge success – the new venue allowed us to double the number of vendors and patrons with room for continued growth,” Davis enthused. “The vendors brought an amazing selection for sampling and the addition of hard cider and distilled spirits ensured something for almost every palate.”

One of the most noticeable differences this year was found on the faces of the patrons – it was not just young bearded white dudes in attendance as diversity was on full display, as befitting a city undergoing its own transformation. And while there was still plenty of young people enjoying the beers, it was definitely a more mature crowd this year as well.

The Daft Brewing (Kingston) crew

With 13 brewers from Kitchener to Prince Edward County – including six from Durham Region – plus a distillery and a cidery, there was all kinds of choices for the thirsty patrons.

“This was a fantastic sampling event of central Ontario producers,” Davis said.

It was a labour of love putting the event together for Davis, Leonard and their team of volunteers, with both noting the “incredible community support” that gave the event the boost it needed.

The vendors seemed impressed too, said Leonard. “All the vendors told us they were happy with sales and that they’d be back.”

Brock Street Brewing (Whitby)

Food was supplied by two food trucks parked outside – Masala Box from Spicy Affairs (the Butter Chicken Wrap was a messy but delicious treat) and Down East Donairs, which was making its food truck debut.

Music was provided by Will Surphlis and Get Tuned Entertainment.

“It’s about building community,” Davis said, citing the breweries, local musicians and food trucks and even the Durham Region Roller Derby skaters rolling around the venue “all helping to bring community together. And the venue and grounds of the Oshawa Botanical Gardens create an excellent location for a festival like this.”

Anecdotally, the IPA lovers flocked to Daft Brewing (Kingston) for their very popular Thirst Trap double dry-hopped brew, but the busiest booth was probably at Waterloo Brewing, with its approachable lineup of lagers and radlers.

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