Story by Adrian Lysenko, Photos by Patrick Chondon

When: August 9 & 10
Where: Prince Arthur’s Landing at Marina Park
Headliners: Breweries, musicians, and food vendors
Cost: $20
What not to miss: The bus (your ticket is a free transit pass)
The scene: Think picnic in the park—with beer
Where to stay: Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel & Suites (ask for the special BrewHa! rate)
Food: Hot Paddle Pizza, Prospector Burger Barn, Red Lion Smokehouse, Local Motion, Sweet North
Insider tip: Flight paddles are returning this year, so bring your old BrewHa! glasses with you so you can hold four at a time like a PRO!
Memorable moments: This is their 5th anniversary bringing the best beer together in Thunder Bay—five years of having the happiest faces in one place celebrating all that is artisan craft and local

As BrewHa! enters its fifth year, organizers say the event has evolved as they figure out what works and what doesn’t, but the main formula hasn’t changed since the beginning. “Bring together the best breweries we can find, find the best local food vendors to make the beer taste even better, then find the best local musicians to make the beer and food taste even better,” says Jon Hendel, the festival’s co-chair. “Under those pillars, we have let our vendors rotate and their offerings. From a beer trending standpoint, Ontario sees lots of change each year.”

So far, Hendel says that the festival has 20-25 brewery and craft cocktail vendors lined up and is always looking for feedback from the public on what to include. “We love the input we get from our engaged social media and email followers,” he says. “We continue to receive more requests for gluten-free beer and beer alternatives, so we brought some more on board!”

Hendel says part of what makes the festival a success is the volunteers—or “voluntBeers”—that help make run everything smoothly. “Some of our voluntBeers have been with us for all five years and we are so thankful for them.”

Organizers also look at ways the festival can give back to the community. “From a business standpoint, sourcing materials, suppliers, talent, vendors, and rentals locally is one small investment we can make back to our community,” Hendel says. “On top of that, choosing environmentally responsible products, vendors, etc. really doesn’t cost that much more and we all sleep better at night.” This year, the festival will have new eco-tokens that are completely biodegradable and made from potato skins instead of the bottle caps that were used before.

As for the feedback organizers receive about the festival, Hendel says they always appreciate the emails/letters thanking them. “Our patrons seem to like having breathing room, want us to expand our music offerings, and [have] a wide variety/selection of beers, cocktails, and ciders,” he says. “It’s such a great feeling knowing that this is now a summer tradition for so many.”