On Saturday, March 28, 2015 more than 100 venues throughout Ontario will go dark as part of Mill Street Brewery’s fifth annual “Lights Out with Mill Street” fundraising event is support of and conjunction with Earth Day Canada. Along with some of my contemporaries like Ottawa Beer Events, Ottawa Beer Club and Ottawa Beer Calendar, I was invited to attend a preview event on Thursday, March 19 that literally gave us a taste of what to expect from the ones taking place during Earth Hour.
I arrived at Mill Street’s Ottawa Brewpub before sundown and was warmly greeted as I checked in and was given a couple of beer tokens – hey, this was a media event after all. Industrious local musician Amanda Rheaume was already mid set as I opted for a glass of the brewery’s classic German-style Pilsner, sat with some friends and was quickly reminded that my voice is not well-suited towards an intimate acoustic show.
The sun started to descend and thankfully the crowd of 50 or so livened up in between sets as the day’s dying light kissed the brew pub’s stone walls. I went with a pint of Portage Ale next, which is a beer that I reviewed when the Ottawa brew pub opened in 2012, but haven’t really had much since. It was a very refreshingly bright and fruity ale that I’ll be sure to revisit, which will be easy thanks to its inclusion in Mill Street’s Spring Mix sampler this year.
By the time Amos The Transparent was finished his performance, the room had mostly darkened and was subsequently illuminated with candles and lanterns by some of the staff on hand. I’d never heard of this artist before, but his rhythmic style and haunting voice worked in a synesthetic way with the room’s atmosphere and really clicked with me.
Tara Holloway closed out the event and her red hair was unmistakable even by candlelight as the crowd mingled and imbibed in the brew pub’s selection of 14 taps. It’s hard to keep track of what’s on at any given time, but I feel confident saying that you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding something you like at one of Mill Street’s brew pubs.
I didn’t ask about a special beer brewed for the Earth Hour events, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a cask or two turn up somewhere. 50 cents from every Mill St. pint sold at participating venues between March 19 and 28 will be donated to Earth Day Canada and the initiative has raised more than $300,000 since its inception.
Here in Ottawa, more than 25 venues are participating in Lights Out with Mill Street. Over 75 of the events planned throughout the province will feature acoustic performances curated by the folks at Indie Week Canada. Obviously your experience would vary based on the venue, but if you can manage to get to the Ottawa brew pub you’ll likely agree that it’s the perfect place for an event like this. A full list of participating venues and events can be found here.
Please note that I had an extremely difficult time not referencing Guerilla Radio by Rage Against the Machine when writing this article’s title. Oh and I got free beer and food and stuff for attending this event too, thanks to everyone involved at Mill Street.