Honda Indy Toronto fans get a taste of indie beer
For an event that began life as the Molson Indy, you might figure there’d be plenty of suds from the big brewers at this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto.
You’d be wrong. Instead, visitors to the Craft Brew House and the other concession stands on site will be quenching their thirst with a variety of craft brews from Amsterdam Brewery and Muskoka Brewery.
It’s the second year in a row that only craft beer has been available at the Indy, which in addition to having Molson as its founding sponsor, was also subsequently supported by Steelback Brewery and Labatt.
Last year, the Indy signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with Muskoka and Amsterdam. While not everyone may have heard of the breweries, race fans appreciated the chance to try some local Ontario craft brews, said Honda Indy Toronto president Charlie Johnstone. They also enjoyed the chance to meet with brewers from both breweries, he added.
“There was a great response. People really enjoyed it,” Johnstone said. This year, the Indy will also be holding a driver’s party at the Amsterdam BrewHouse, an 800-seat brewpub on Queens Quay W.
The odd customer may have groused about not being able to get Bud Light or Coors Light at the beer tent, but odds are they’d be complaining even if the Indy was still sponsored by one of the big breweries, Johnstone said.
“Some guy who’s been loyal to his brand drinking Coors Light for 20 years wouldn’t be thrilled when we were serving Bud Light,” he said.
In future, Johnstone said the Indy could add more Ontario craft brewers to its sponsorship mix. Though he wouldn’t mention any by name, logical candidates would be breweries such as Mill Street Brewery and Steam Whistle Brewing, both of which are big enough to supply enough beer for thousands of race fans in a single weekend (both brewers also have significant event sponsorship programs).
Here’s a look at what you’ll be able to sip at the track this weekend. The beers marked with an asterisk are available only at the Craft Brew House. The others are available at any of the beer concessions on site.
*Cream Ale: A slightly sweet, amber-colored ale. Not much hop character.
*Craft Lager: Not their most compelling brew, by a long-shot, but then again, it won’t frighten away anyone used to drinking macro brewed lagers.
*Mad Tom IPA: This is one for the hop-lovers, and it will appeal to any U.S. racing fans who sip craft brews south of the border. Packed with citrusy hop aromas and a bitter finish. If the only IPA you’ve ever had is Alexander Keith’s, you’re in for a very bitter surprise.
*Summer Weiss: A classic Bavarian-style wheat beer, slightly cloudy, with notes of banana and clove. A great summer brew.
*(416) Local Lager: A bit of a citrusy note, but otherwise, a fairly straightforward thirst quencher.
Natural Blonde: A crisp, slightly bitter Pilsner-style brew.
*Boneshaker IPA: You know those macro-brewed beers whose ads boast of “no bitter aftertaste?” This ain’t one of them. This slightly hazy, amber-hued brew is mouth-puckeringly bitter, and that’s completely intentional. It’s also packed with tons of hop aroma.
*Oranje Weisse: A Belgian-style wheat beer, with orange peel and coriander seed. For non-craft beer folks, a more well-known reference point would be Hoegaarden.
*KLB Raspberry Wheat: Light and fruity, but not sweet. Not particularly complex, but a good patio quaffer.
*Big Wheel Amber: A decent, vaguely English-style amber-colored ale. A bit of malt sweetness and a touch of hop bitterness.
Amsterdam and Muskoka have also produced a collaborative brew exclusively for the Indy. The golden Belgian ale is flavored with citrus and a bit of ginger. Toronto Star