Interview with Steam Whistle’s Winter Craft Beer Festival Creator

Beer and cider fans of Toronto are going absolutely nuts for the Steam Whistle Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Festival taking place this Saturday. With over 45 different beers and ciders, you can get all bundled up in your favourite ski and snow gear to enjoy a brew and the festivities. It doesn’t get more Canadian than that, eh!?

Advanced tickets are sold out, but there will be some available at the door when it opens at 11am. We definitely recommend getting there early if you hope to snag a ticket! Show up in your retro ski gear and get ready to try beer, ciders, and local food trucks galore.

We spoke with Tim McLaughlin, one of the festival creators and brand manager for Steam Whistle, to get to know more about the festival, how it got started, and what beers are on his “must-try” list for this weekend.

I’ve heard the festival started out as a crazy idea that you weren’t sure was going to work – are you able to tell me a bit more about that?

People thought we were crazy when we came up with the idea to do a winter version of the summer Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival. And as we got closer to the event, we too started to doubt whether people would show up to a beer festival… outdoors… in the middle of the winter.

That first year, the park was basically encased in ice and the forecast was calling for -15°C. When we were setting up that morning, the winds were so strong they were blowing the entire perimeter fence around. At that point it started to cross my mind that we had made a big mistake!

However, as soon as we opened the gates, the wind died down and big beautiful snowflakes began to fall, transforming it into the perfect winter day. That first year we had 15 breweries, and now four years later we are excited to welcome over 45 craft breweries and cideries and over a dozen food trucks.

Not only is it sold out, but people line-up early in the morning to try and snag the last tickets. Have you been surprised at how popular it’s gotten? What do you think makes it so special for everyone?

We are surprised at how receptive people have been to the festival, and would love to be able to accommodate everyone that wants to come. There’s nothing worse than having to turn people away who want to come to one of our events. I believe the success of Steam Whistle’s Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Festival can be attributed to the fact that it is a quintessential Canadian experience. Where else can people party in a park, in below zero, dressed in old retro ski wear and with a beer in their hand?

The festival offers so many varieties of beer and cider – how do you go about choosing what breweries to have at the festival?

All participating breweries must either be members of the association of Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) or going through the application process of joining the OCB. All of our ciders come from small independently owned cideries. This year, for the first time, we will also be featuring a selection of beers from Alberta Small Brewers, and we may look to invite other provinces for future festivals.

Last question: What are your top three must-try beers or ciders that’ll be featured at the festival?

Any of the Alberta craft beers are worth a taste, as you won’t be able to find them anywhere else in Ontario. I would also recommend sampling brews from Bobcaygeon Brewing, and Duxbury Cider is definitely worth checking out. And of course Steam Whistle Pilsner and our UNFILTERED version will be available – it’s a great beer to ease your way into the festival.

More information:

Follow @SteamWhistle for the most up-to-date information.

Steam Whistle’s Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Festival

February 11th, 2017

11a.m. to 5p.m.

Roundhouse Park, 255 Bremner Blvd, Toronto, Ontario

Learn more at


Samie Durnford

Samie Durnford

Contributor at Addicted
Samie Durnford is a Toronto based writer with a heart that beats at 138BPM. An electronic music lover, you can find her listening to anything from trance to techno. Samie has been a reality TV columnist for the Toronto Sun and has interviewed DJs for THUMP Canada. She's taken electronic music on as a lifestyle, travelling to EDM festivals across North America whenever she can.
Samie Durnford