As we march into spring, the sound of craft beer bottle caps popping off can be heard as locals and visitors alike celebrate the mighty craft beer in the Okanagan.
Things really start hopping here in the spring as Okanagan Fest of Ale is just around the corner. This will be my 9th year being involved with this well-loved craft beer event, which always marks the start of tourism season in our beach-front community.
The 21st annual Okanagan Fest of Ale is coming up on April 8th and 9th in Penticton. This year, there will be 50 craft breweries and 5 Okanagan-based cideries. Many of the breweries launch new seasonal releases and specially-produced cask ales at the fest. There are both indoor and outdoor areas with bands and buskers throughout. This is also a chance to taste some of the foods from Penticton with 12 vendors, some offering special food and beer pairings.
If you’re coming in from out of town, check out www.festofale.ca for tickets and Sip and Stay packages starting at $109/couple. Vine & Hops has created a special package from Vancouver, which includes transport, accommodations, fest tickets, an after-party, stops at Cannery Brewing and Bad Tattoo Brewing, and an optional wine tour. See http://www.vineandhops.ca/events/fest-ale-road-trip/ for details.
If you’re new to craft beer or want to learn even more about it, check out Joe Wiebe’s Craft Beer Revolution Seminar and Beer Tasting on Thursday April 7th, the eve of Fest of Ale. It will be held at Bad Tattoo Brewing. Tickets are $25 through EventBrite. As a bonus, everyone who attends will get a pint of a Collaborale called “Sloppy Joe”, which was made as a tribute to Joe by local breweries Bad Tattoo, Cannery Brewing, Firehall Brewery and Tin Whistle Brewing.
There are lots of other pre- and post-Fest of Ale events happening in the South Okanagan to make it a great weekend. One that I recommend is the Murderers Row cask event at the Kettle Valley Station Pub in the Penticton Ramada. It’s on Saturday April 9th, immediately following the Fest. There will be 14 amazing BC Craft breweries each with a special cask for the event. Tickets are $30 and that includes your entrance, your first beer and a Murderers Row t-shirt. Tickets go on sale March 25th and it always sells out quickly.
Craft beer lovers will unite for a cask night and the Annual General Meeting of CAMRA South Okanagan on April 20th. The newest branch of CAMRA is approaching its first anniversary with almost 80 members, the recent launch of their website www.camraso.ca and online membership sign-ups/renewals. For other CAMRA BC members travelling here, show your CAMRA membership card and enjoy the local Okanagan CAMRA membership benefits.
Keeping in the craft beer festival spirit, the 2nd annual Great Okanagan Beer Fest is also quickly approaching. It will be held in Kelowna, another Okanagan lakefront community, from May 12th-14th. It will feature more than 40 breweries and a series of craft-beer events in the area in addition to the main festival. There will also be a new Concert Series the evenings of May 12, 13 and 14. Visit www.gobf.ca for more info and tickets.
While you’re in Kelowna, be sure to visit Tree Brewing and help them celebrate their 20th year of brewing. Make sure you also head to BNA Brewing, and if you happen to be in Kelowna on the last Tuesday of any month, they run a fun, yet informal, BNA Beer Club featuring cask beer, dinner and beer chat.
And in new news in Kelowna…..I’m excited for the opening of Kettle River Brewing. They are aiming to open in May. The Okanagan’s newest craft brewery will focus on fresh and barrel-conditioned beer. Visit their new tasting room for growler fills, bottles and samples.
If you like craft beer, this is a great time to be in the Okanagan. Until next time, cheers.