Finally, Fest of Ale is upon us!

To say I’ve been excited about this upcoming weekend would be an understatement.  Most of you already know my fondness for Fest of Ale, but as I’ve mentioned this year is going to be extra special for me.

Fest of Ale 2015

Photo by Beer Me BC – Fest of Ale 2015

Fest of Ale was my first ever beer festival so there’s naturally a bit of nostalgia going on for me as I return this year.  I still recall queuing up to grab my festival glass, my beer tokens, and being ushered into this vast space filled with breweries whose names I’d never heard of.  It was also the first time I had tried a hefeweizen- Granville Island Brewing’s Robson Street Hef had only recently been released (I know I’m dating myself here).  

The last time I attended FOA was in 2011 and since then quite a lot has changed.  For one, I’m going to be attending not only as a member of the media but also as a judge, something I never would have believed if you told me on either of those two previous occasions.

The judging part of my trip is actually something I’m quite nervous about, although I’ve been told by those who have done so before that I should just calm down and enjoy it.  Being new to the judging scene this is a whole new experience, but rest assured I’ve been practicing!

Beer School VBW 2016 - Beer Aroma

The first step is to judge the aroma

In preparation for my judging, I’ve taken a few steps.  First, as you may recall I took part in Danny Seeton’s Beer Judging course at Victoria Beer Week.  That class gave me a good foundation that I could build upon.

As part of Danny’s course at VBW2016, he provided us all with a beer score sheet that is often used in home brewing competitions.  The sheet is great: it provides the language and rating scales often employed by beer judges when they are rating beer.  That alone has been a huge boon as I try and wrap my mind and my senses around testing and tasting beer.  It’s also been great in helping me be more objective about my own home-brew.

Finally, I’ve been trying to apply this knowledge in the form of beer reviews and beer descriptions.  As you may know I’ve been doing a few reviews over on Beer Me BC.  Writing up these reviews has been incredibly helpful in trying to understand the tastes and smells I get from beer, but more importantly to be able to describe and verbalize them.  It’s no use being able to pick out the specific flavours in a brew if you can’t communicate that with someone else!

Moody Ales Great Gratzer

Moody Ales Great Gratzer from my recent Craft Beer Advent Calendar.

Lately I’ve also been (finally!) going through my Craft Beer Advent Calendar since I’m once more back on the drink.  I decided that I’d use the knowledge I’ve been accumulating to describe the beer in my posts on Instagram.  This process is a great exercise because it forces me to sit back and contemplate the beer I’m drinking rather than just opening it, snapping a photo, and pouring it down my gullet.

So I’m trying to get myself psyched up to judge the 100+ beers that FOA organizers have prepared for us.  No one I’ve spoken to is quite certain yet what format the judging will take but I’m definitely as excited as I am nervous.  

Though with all that said, I’m sure that after my second 10am beer I’ll settle right into things.

I’ll keep you posted on what’s happening at the fest through Instagram and Twitter so be sure to follow along.  After the fest, I’ll post an album of photos over at Beer Me BC so keep your eyes peeled for that as well.

Wish me luck!

P.S.: There’s still time to get your tickets for FOA if you are considering attending.  Check here for tickets, or if you need a lift up from Metro Vancouver you could connect with Vine & Hops who are offering a Fest of Ale road trip!  

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