Spring is here and with it the start of beer festival season. Sure, there are a couple of great winter beer events in British Columbia, including the Central City Winter Cask Festival, which was held in January, and the Alibi Room’s annual beer list centennial celebration, but the province’s major beer festivals are mainly held in the spring and summer.
Dating back to 1995, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is the biggest beer event held in the Okanagan each year. Based in Penticton in the heart of wine country, it showcases all of the area’s breweries as well as others from elsewhere in BC, Canada and even the United States. Held on Friday and Saturday in the local convention centre, it can be a bit of a drink-up for some attendees, but it’s also a great way to check out the beer scene in the Okanagan.
Highlights of this year’s list include: Port Townsend Brewing from Tacoma, WA; Paddock Wood Brewing from Saskatoon (one of my favourite Canadian breweries); and Alpine Brewing, a German-style brewery from Oroville, WA, just across the border below Osoyoos.
Visitors from Vancouver or Victoria will enjoy the chance to meet brewers and try beers from some BC breweries they might not know very well, including: Mt. Begbie Brewing (Revelstoke), Firehall Brewery (Oliver), Tin Whistle Brewing (Penticton), and Crannóg Ales (Sorrento).
Tickets are $20 + facility fees per day ($26.88 total). Beer sample tokens cost $2 each. There are accommodation packages available, too.
Outside the festival, the Kettle Valley Station Pub is the best place to enjoy craft beer in Penticton. In addition to all the local beers, they bring in interesting brands from around the world. Kettle Valley is hosting the Murderer’s Row Cask Event on Saturday night after the festival, featuring five casks from Cannery Brewing, Tin Whistle, Tree Brewing, Crannóg and Coal Harbour Brewing. The pub will also have Mort Subite Kriek on tap to celebrate Belgian Beer Day, which happens to be April 6. For tickets, which are $15 and include a collector’s glass and the first fill, call the pub at 250.493.3388.
If you can’t make it Penticton for the festival this year but your interest in the Okanagan beer scene has been piqued, check out my article, “Beer and Sprits in Wine Country,” and plan your own Okanagan adventure.
CAMRA Vancouver Spring Sessional Cask Festival
May 4th, 1-6pm
The Portside Pub, Vancouver
Vancouver-area brewers have been challenged to brew a “sessionable” (low alcohol) ale that still exhibits great flavour. Tickets are $30 ($25 for CAMRA Members) and includes a taster glass and three drink tokens. Additional drink tokens will be available for $1.25 each.
I will preview these other upcoming festivals in upcoming Thirsty columns:
Vancouver Craft Beer Week
May 31 – June 8
Central City Summer Cask Festival
June 29 (Surrey)
Canada Cup of Beer
July 13 (Swangard Stadium – Burnaby)
Great Canadian Beer Festival
September 6-7 (Victoria)
Quench your thirst at www.thirstywriter.com.
Follow along on twitter @thirstywriter & @craftbeerrevolu.