I had been looking forward to last weekend for several months now, and it did not disappoint! Back in July, Evan heard about a craft beer festival happening about two and a half hours away from us in a really cute area of Ontario, so we decided to get tickets, book a hotel room and make a weekend out of it. On Saturday morning we headed to Picton in Prince Edward County for the first annual (I guess they’re planning for it to be a regular thing) Homegrown County Craft Brewing Festival.
We made a quick pit stop at Lake On The Mountain Park, since it’s only 10 minutes from Picton. I’ve been wanting to check it out for a while.
It’s a lake that’s not exactly on a mountain, since we don’t really have those here, but it apparently defies all geographical and geological theory because it’s definitely on a cliff.
And below the cliff is Picton Bay on Lake Ontario!
You can’t really tell what’s happening from pictures but it’s pretty bizarre seeing two large bodies of water right beside each other at completely different elevations.
It was nice, and a freakin’ gorgeous day for some lake time — a bit too cold for swimming but you know I had my emergency bathing suit with me just in case the opportunity arose.
After that we headed to Picton to get our beer fest on. We stayed at the Picton Harbour Inn and it was super cute, reasonably priced and I cannot say enough about the service. The lady working the front desk was extremely friendly and helpful, and she let us check into our room over two hours early, so that was nice. This inn really is right in the harbour so this was the view from our private balcony.
Well, there may have been a small parking lot before the dock but I still liked it. The beer fest was about a 10 minute walk from the hotel (convenient!) so we dropped our stuff off, relaxed for a minute and then walked on over. Picton is cuuuuute.
I was already fantasizing about moving there and opening my own brewery and/or kombucha and sauerkraut bottling business. It is a hipster paradise there!
The beer fest took place on the grounds of the Crystal Palace, an adorable building on the Picton Fairgrounds.
I don’t know if the plan was to originally have all the vendors inside (because it’s almost the end of October and weather-wise who knows what you’re going to get) but it was unseasonably warm and sunny and everyone was outside enjoying the day.
I got ID’d as we entered the grounds, which of course pleased me because I’m well over 19 (like WELL over), and the lady actually asked me to remove my sunglasses so she could study my face and compare it to my picture, and then she quizzed me about my middle name! I was surprised so I hesitated when I answered and I felt like that made me look suspicious. Oh well, they let me in. Evan did not get ID’d but I’m sure that grey beard of his is a 19+ alert.
They gave us pint mugs, which was a nice touch, and two beer tokens to get us started. One token filled your mug up halfway, which was just right. There were at least 25 brewers set up so we did a lap of the grounds first to see the beers we wanted to hit up. One of my colleagues is from the County and she recommended the MacKinnon Brothers Brewery in Bath, Ontario, so I thought I’d better start with them before I drank too much beer and forgot. They did actually end up being one of my favourite brewers there, and I also scored a pickle on a stick ’cause I’m doing life right.
That pickle was SO GOOD (from Pyramid Ferments and I am now obsessed with their entire line of delicious fermented things) — when we were leaving we bought an entire jar of pickles from them but unfortunately they were lost in a tragic accident while we were walking home later. The plastic bag they were in broke and the jar of pickles fell onto the sidewalk and shattered all over the place. I was devastated. I wanted those pickles so bad. But Pyramid Ferments is at Brickworks in Toronto every Saturday so this weekend I’m going on a serious mission to get another jar.
We hadn’t eaten lunch since we heard there would be food vendors, and eating was going to be a must for optimal beer drinking (meaning we could drink more beer without getting too sauced). We headed to a jerk chicken booth and scored some of that.
Delicious. Mine was sweet with a little bit of spicy and it was perfect.
And then more beer. Then a cocktail. I had a pine vodka (I know, weird right, pine vodka?) Caesar and it was pretty good.
But I was there for the beer.
Evan says it’s less classy to be holding a drink in a photo, but I strongly disagree.
We basically wandered around in the sunshine for six hours and drank beer. It was the best. Everyone, both vendors and guests, were EXTREMELY friendly, like way more than in the city, and we chatted people up and made new friends. And it was also never too busy, which I enjoyed. I think we waited in line for max five minutes, and that was for the one cocktail booth.
There was a great live band playing (they played a lot of Hip which was fitting and I was digging), and there were funny games like a potato sack race and keg throwing competition. Which I participated in.
As one does.
I had a whole stretching routine before the big throw and everything. You had to throw the keg straight up and over a rope that kept getting higher every round.
After that toss a guy near Evan said “Whoa, that was effortless.” and Evan yelled “THAT’S MY WIFE!!!” like the proud husband he is.
I unfortunately did not win the keg toss. I had a beer in between rounds that I thought was going to make me even better because at that point I felt like I was amazing at everything, but I think it was that beer that took me over the edge from being good to being crap, ’cause the next round I choked. You know how it happens. There’s a threshold. I could have been great! I did get pretty far though so I was proud of myself.
Okay, favourite beers. We tried every vendor (but not every single beer that each vendor had, that’s just crazy talk!) and picked out a few faves. The MacKinnon Brothers for sure. My coworker was right about that one. I tried a few of theirs and enjoyed them all. I also enjoyed KingsTown, Signal Brewing, and one of the cider places had a raspberry sour that I REALLY loved (sours are new to me and I’mma likin’). And Wolfe Island Spring near Kingston, they were a good time.
They have a cannonball ale that is brewed with a real cannonball, so hearing that story was quite impressive, and that beer may have been my favourite of all the beers. They had a picture of them with their little daughter at their booth and they are such a cute family. Totally living the craft beer dream.
So it was a pretty excellent beer drinking time with my lover.
And if it’s an annual festival I think it’s going to be annual for us, too.
Eventually we decided we probably should not drink any more beer and we headed out. We walked over to the Accoustic Grill in downtown Picton for dinner, solely because they had live music. It was busy but we scored a table right away so that was great. I remember eating deep fried pickles to make up for the lost pickles fiasco (it didn’t but they were good), and some sort of chicken thing, but the pickles were the most memorable part of my meal.
After leaving there we walked into the movie theatre, basically because it looked like a sweet old town movie theatre and we wanted to check it out (the picture below was taken the next day, it was dark by this point).
They gave us free popcorn for some reason and tried to invite us into a CCR tribute concert that was currently happening but we were in no shape for that. So, we took our free popcorn home and were in bed by 9:30pm. Perfect.
The next day we explored downtown Picton a bit and then checked out an apple orchard/pumpkin patch before heading back to the city. We got home just in time for a Sunday afternoon nap. Good times all around!