A bit under two weeks back I was at the 24th annual Great Canadian Beer Fest in Victoria and it was really a blast. With the 25th anniversary coming up next year, I would urge anyone who has never attended to make plans to be there in 2017. If the last two years are anything to go by, the anniversary year is sure to be fantastic.
When I attended in 2015 I didn’t really know many people, and I was trying to do a lot of things at once. Introduce myself to people I hadn’t met, catch up with those I had, take photos and video, produce come good content for Instagram, and so on. Way down my list of priorities you might be surprised to learn, was to drink beer! This year I tried as much as possible to rectify that issue.
As with previous years I was taken around to visit vendors before the gates officially opened to the public. This is an opportunity for the organizers of the festival to introduce the media to some of the vendors that they’re particularly excited to have joining in the festival. In particular they introduced us to a Tod Creek Cider (one of the newest cideries in Victoria), Brasserie Dunham (one of three breweries from Québec that made the trek out to the west coast), and also Mauricio and Alicia from Faculty Brewing in Vancouver. Before the gates were open on Friday and the throngs of thirsty festival-goers began eagerly queuing up for their first beers, I was able to wander around the grounds unhindered and chat with vendors fairly casually. Definitely a treat.
While last year’s fest was exclusively BC breweries, to the chagrin of some long-standing attendees from elsewhere, this year there were breweries from across Canada. The organizers stated they still had a huge list of applicants and as usual it’s always a challenge to decide which breweries to accept and which ones to reject.
It was nice to chat with Mauricio from Faculty Brewing to get an update on their progress since opening. GCBF was their first major beer festival and they were excited to share their beer with a new audience. It seemed they were quite popular since every time I went past their tent there was a sizable queue. I was a huge fan of their Oaked Stout cask. The oak chips used gave flavours as if it was aged in oak barrels which was really cool. I’m looking forward to more from these guys.
Other folks it was good to catch up with were the group from Wheelhouse Brewing in Prince Rupert. I recently published an article about the brewery over on Beer Me BC, and I hadn’t seen any of the guys since I was up for a visit earlier in the summer. It was great to catch up with them, and unlike when I was up there last time they actually had some time to chat!
Overall it was a great festival once again and it really helped reinforce for me how great this brewing community is. So many of the brewers themselves were on hand and made the trip to the island to hang out and catch up with their peers. Maybe there will be some more exciting collaborations that will result from meetings at this year’s festival? Only time will tell!
Now that I’m back home, I’m eagerly anticipating the upcoming lineup of festivals and events. If there are still tickets available for these ones so be sure to check them out. I’ll be at Grape and Grain and BC Hop Fest for sure so tweet at me if you’re there and say “Hi!”.
September 24th & 25th: Grape and Grain
September 29th – October 9th: Harvest Haus
October 1st (Abbotsford): BC Hop Fest
October 1st (Victoria): Fresh to Death