Jason Collett (left) and Garrett Oliver
SESSION 99 at 99 Sudbury, Saturday (June 25), noon to 9 pm. $35, 4-oz samples $1, evening concerts only $30 (doors 9 pm), all-access pass $60. session2011.ca.
Beer festivals can be schizophrenic affairs, with earnest aficionados and sample-happy drunks comingling on some forsaken urban patch within splashing distance of the Coors Light dunk tank.
The Session 99 beer festival, slated for Saturday (June 25) at the drink-don't-drive-compatible location of 99 Sudbury, focuses on the craft brew side of the business with a strong lineup of local micros and an equally impressive array of out-of-towners, including Quebec's MicroBrasserie Charlevoix, Dieu du Ciel, Trois Mousquetaires and Trois du Diable and BC's Central City, Phillips and Howe Sound.
For those who like to tap toes as much as kegs, Session 99 features music by Jason Collett, NQ Arbuckle and New Country Rehab. All bands play acoustic sets during the day and a full gig at night.
Quebec's Blue Mushroom Circus Sideshow, featuring BonBon Bombay and her beer-dispensing bra, offers distraction from discussions on International Bittering Units and specific gravity.
More serious diversions are provided by international craft beer celebrity - yes, there is too such a thing - Garrett Oliver, brewmaster for the acclaimed Brooklyn Brewery. Oliver conducts the opening ceremonies and appears on the cooking stage.
There are more food and beer cooking demonstrations, including a look at the local scene by Cowbell's carnivorally knowledgeable Mark Cutrara.
Session 99 culminates a bleary beer week. Ontario Craft Beer Week will still be in full swing, and Torontonians will just be getting to know Liberty Village's Beer Boutique, the upmarket offspring of the Beer Store.