Toronto’s Festival of Beer is on and we are stoked. The hoppiest event of the summer is back and taking a thoughtful and curated approach to beer festivals. We spoke with Jon Sinden, principal of Toronto’s Festival of Beer (TFOB) about what we can expect for July’s weekend-long beer event.

What are the highlights of this year’s festival? Nas headlining Friday is an exciting announcement.

Jon Sinden- Hip hop legend Nas will indeed headline Toronto’s Festival of Beer on Friday, July 22. We are so excited to have an entertainer at Nas’s level join us this year. A Grammy award-winning icon is not a bad way to kick off a legendary event! The very next day on July 23, multi Juno award-winners Sam Roberts Band will headline joined by Toronto’s own The Strumbellas. Sunday brings The Revivalists  joined by alt-rocker Matt Mays. This extraordinary line-up of rap and rock pairs perfectly with over 400 brews to discover.

Image Courtesy Toronto’s Festival of Beer

Many of my favourite summer memories are from this iconic weekend. What can guests expect now with Covid still “a thing”?

JS- First thing first, we are an outdoor event! It’s definitely time to get outside, reunite with friends and make some new summer memories. Beerfest is a tradition to many. We hear over and over again from beer fans that they discovered their favourite beer at TFOB. Beer discovery is such an important pillar of our event. We are always searching for brands and brewers to introduce to the masses. We bring new brewers every year in our ‘New Brews’ section.

Next, TFOB is once again committed to showcasing industry positivity, and we are working to redevelop policies and procedures to address any issues that brewery personnel face that stem from discrimination and racism. We’re working with an app called #NOTME to provide guests an opportunity to speak with festival staff in real-time to report any potential concerns. Our values have always been focused on zero tolerance, and this revamp will really bring this energy to the forefront of the conversation. Ensuring that TFOB is as always, a safe space for all.

There’s a spotlight on Diversity and PEC breweries this year- can you speak to what will be incorporated to reflect this inclusion?

JS- Toronto’s Festival of Beer is hosting number of compelling and intriguing initiatives this year. Focused on the Brews of Prince Edward County, the trending culinary and beverage destination du jour in Ontario. Featuring new products from Parson’s Brewing, Marton Fine Brews, Midtown Brewing and more. We are introducing The Changemakers, dedicated to craftspeople currently creating compelling change both within their community, and for their industry.

Guests may sample brews in each of these pavilions, in addition to the hundreds of other options available through Bandshell Park. New this year is a complimentary non-alcoholic beer tasting area, for those who choose not to imbibe yet want to experience the festival’s energy and excitement.

The Changemakers are all new to this year’s festival, and include Charlottesville Brewing of Norfolk, a husband and wife team classically trained in France. They are committed to sustainable brewing and farming on their land and to paying employees a living wage. Xhale Brewing of Calgary is female and queer owned, working with addiction and recovery in the industry raising funds for overdose support. Grey Matter in Kincardine, Ontario is committed to Black Lives Matter, with a town mural painted to highlight inclusion. They also support Indigenous communities through Orange Shirt Day events.

Beer, sunshine and friends. A perfect summer trio. What is your favourite beer and what interesting brews can we look forward to finding this year?

JS- There are so many to choose from with so many brewers doing interesting things. Right now a personal favourite of mine is a crisp, light IPA that has the bold flavour of hops, but also a lower alcohol content. That’s right up my alley. I’m always searching for ’summer in a can’.

There are dozens of brewers doing this right now. Just visit your local brewery or The Beer Store and ask someone who works there. Tell them what you like and you will not be disappointed with their recommendation. 

Torontos festival of beer

Joining us guarantees a few things. First, you will have a great time. As you said earlier, the recipe of sunshine, friends and a tasty beverage is the formula for great summer memories. Second, you will discover a beer you’ve never heard of before. And it might become your next favourite beer. Again, it’s the same feeling as when you discover a new band or new restaurant and you bring that back to your friend group. It’s awesome.

Hope to see you this summer! is the place to get tickets. 

Interview may be edited for length/clarity.