Niagara craft beerBy Jill Currie

Festival-goers in Niagara have no shortage of events from which to choose. From garlic to grapes, berries to beer there is seemingly something for everyone.

But when it comes to beer festivals not all are created equal. And while Niagara has many great beer festivals in all parts of the region, the one thing we’ve been missing is a cask beer festival.

On May 6, at Fort George, Niagara will celebrate its first Cask Fest 2017. Brought to you by the Silversmith Brewing Company, Niagara Parks and the Friends of Fort George, the festivities will kick off at noon and run until 6 p.m.

“We wanted to fill out what was missing in the Niagara craft beer culture, while providing an opportunity for breweries to branch out from the norm,” says events and corporate sales manager for Silversmith, Rhiannon Fleming.

“We were also looking for a way to partner and support the Friends of Fort George and the good works they do to preserve and promote the heritage of Niagara National Historic sites.”

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Proceeds from the festival will be going to the Friends of Fort George.

The Niagara-on- the-Lake Canada 150 Committee will present their new special Confederation Celebration Show, a 150th anniversary musical during festival.

The $25 dollar ticket will gain you entrance, a souvenir glass and a cask sample from each of the seven breweries that will be participating: Silversmith Brewing Company, The Exchange Brewery, the Teaching Brewery at Niagara College, Kame & Kettle Beer Works, Bench Brewing, Shawn and Ed Brewing and Fairweather Brewing. The breweries will be providing draught samples, as well, and will be available for $5 for a 12-ounce pour.

And if all that makes you hungry, both AVella’s Wood Fire Pizza  and In the Smoke Cookery will be attendance. AVella’s offers the region’s best in mobile wood fired pizza while In the Smoke will be serving up brisket burgers and smoked sausages. It’s an impossible choice, so just get both.

Fleming says they wanted to “encourage cask culture”’ in Niagara with this inaugural festival.

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Indeed, the pub at Silversmith is one of the very few places in Niagara to enjoy a properly poured cask beer with the Merchant Ale House and often The Exchange, being the others. She hopes to see this festival become an opportunity for the community to learn about what cask beer is and explore new flavours and textures in craft beer.

Cask conditioned ales, or real ales as they are known, can get a bad rap in for being warm and flat and indeed if you are expecting a frosty mug of suds, you won’t find it at Cask Fest.

Cask beer is fermented in its own serving vessel naturally and will therefore not be as carbonated as a beer being poured from a draught line. It is also meant to be served at ‘cellar’ temperature (between 10-12 C) making the early May date ideal. This warmer serving temperature allows for a fuller mouth-feel and better appreciation of the subtleties of flavour.

Cask Fest is being billed as an exclusive event with only 500 tickets being sold. They can be purchased for cash only at Silversmith, The Exchange and at The Friends of Fort George gift shop.