Spring has sprung, the sun is shining, the patios are open for business; it’s time to crack open a beer, even if you usually drink something else. Beer is a social drink. It celebrates not only good weather but good times, times to share a laugh over a cold brew and sample new tastes and experiences. As renowned English beer writer Michael Jackson pointed out, beer is a social lubricant. From the era of the Industrial Revolution to the appearance of microbreweries, the popularity of beer dwindled steadily. To boost their market share, major breweries went into partnership, then were taken over by even larger companies. Today, all of Canada’s major breweries are foreign-owned. The emergence of microbreweries some three decades ago proved that there was a demand for flavourful beer with unique characteristics. Even as the major breweries’ profits streamed offshore, small brewing enterprises were stimulating the local economy, creating quality jobs, and fostering a sense of regional pride. Quebec became a veritable beer-drinker’s paradise thanks to the vision and talent of its microbrewers, who offered a thirsty populace its first taste of authentic local craft beer. The Gatineau Beerfest, a family-friendly event, celebrates the arrival of spring with some of the finest beers around. Held in a rural setting just a bottle’s throw from Ottawa, the Beerfest plays an important role in raising awareness and appreciation of microbrewery beers, beers with taste, that give people a taste for drinking less and drinking better.