Capital Pint

CAPITAL PINT: The inaugural WinterBrewed Festival launches on Sparks Street (Feb. 16 & 17)

Capital Pint by Travis Persaud is generally published every second Thursday at OttawaMagazine.com. Follow Travis on Twitter @tpersaud.

Winterlude just became a lot more fun. Yeah, skating on the Rideau Canal is good times, but, really, what’s a festival without some adult beverages in the open air?

Next weekend, WinterBrewed will make that possible.

On February 16 and 17 the inaugural WinterBrewed festival unleashes outdoor beer happiness along Sparks Street Mall. We chat with founder JP Fournier, who’s also in charge of National Capital Craft Beer Week, to get the skinny on what to expect.

Why did you choose Sparks Street Mall as the location for WinterBrewed?
Sparks Street has really shown a strong commitment to revitalizing their mall with exciting events (New Year’s Eve had 20,000 people!). The atmosphere is very user-friendly for an event of this type, and their management has been very helpful in promoting the event. The fact that Sparks Street is right downtown where a lot of the Winterlude action is was a key element in choosing the site as well.

What’s the biggest challenged of putting together a winter beer festival?
I’d have to say the temperature. Because we don’t know how warm or cold it might be, we have to plan for both. Too cold and kegs can freeze; too warm and snow/ice dependent programming will suffer. I’m confident that we’re covered no matter what, though. We have heaters in each tent; beer storage that can either heat up or cool down, depending on the ambient temperature outside; and some great food and hot beverages planned that’ll keep folks nice and warm.

WinterBrewed is setting up a hot beer section. For those who haven’t experience hot beer before, is this some kind of weird joke?
Not at all! Actually, this is our modern take on an old tradition of heating beer with a hot poker pulled out of a fire. Beer is very versatile and lends well to spicing, mulling, and infusing with various hot drinks. Some styles are actually even better and exhibit more depth when served at cellar temperatures rather than ice cold. You’ll have to try it to believe it, but this is going to be a great experience for those who are adventurous enough!

I heard Beau’s is bringing in an ice bar that’s 88-feet long. Seriously?
Yes! They commissioned delivery of an iceberg. Actually, they have Carleton University engineering students designing and building it for them.  Can’t wait to see the thing when it’s all done!

There are 13 breweries that are participating. Are they bringing any special one-offs for WinterBrewed?
Well, the winter warming tent will have many beers not usually available in the style that they’re going to be served. But I have it on good authority that most of the breweries are bringing some exciting seasonal winter brews, some cask ales, and a few specialty one-offs too.

Visit www.winterbrewed.com for full event details.

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