Specialist beer events have taken off in the last few years, with beer tasting, beer and food feasts, and workshops in the mold that wine connoisseurs have been enjoying for years now gracing our shores. Before you start booking your plane fare to Oktoberfest, hook up your car hire, or start scoping bistros in Belgium, you might like to check out some of the choice brew festivals upcoming in our city.
Currently running is the Vancouver Craft Beer Week, running from May 18thth – 26th , a week-long celebration of small breweries. This ‘festival of fermentation’ (their words) features 60+ breweries and 60+ venues over nine days throwing a beerfest any hops-inclined rockstar would be proud of. Along with ‘gigs’ featuring impressive ale showcases and culinary delights, debuting this year is the ‘Battle of the Bartenders’ competition, where bar-jockeys face off against each other over who can create the most impressive cocktail. It’s sure to be a thumping week of hops, madness, and rockin’ brews. Not to be missed. Ticket prices vary.
Summer heats up with Vancouver’s biggest beer festival: Nando’s Canada Cup of Beer! A true extravaganza, you get the chance to try over 150 different beers from all over the world. Whether it’s a crisp pilsner you fancy or the dark, toffee-infused stout, there’s bound to be plenty to entertain your tastebuds. The event runs for two days, over the 12th and 13th of July, at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, with sattelite events staged around town. There’s music, awards and no doubt, plenty of good cheer to be had. Tickets are $20 for the Friday and $30 for the Saturday.
For a taste of something beyond beer alone, there’s the Hopscotch Beer Wine and Spirits Festival. Running from November 16th – 17th, this is the biggest festival of its kind in the state. The event has been running for 15 years, frequently selling out in the process. Staged this year at Vancouver’s PNE forum, the event was originally created to showcase the best in hops and scotch from across the nation, to become an international event including alcoholic beverages of many stripes, not to mention gourmet food to match. Events bearing the Hopscotch tag span seven days, encompassing a celebration of the mighty golden beverage that includes workshops, masterclasses and plenty more. Tickets are available for between $40 and $50.
If this isn’t enough, you might like to look into beer tastings and appreciation groups. These are usually held at specialty beer stores, community centers, breweries and such. Two microbreweries that offer tours and tastings in the city are Granville Island Brewery and Storm Brewery. Granville Island specializes in unpasteurized beer that is very similar to German pilsners. Their tours run three times daily, at 12, 2 and 4pm for $9.75. Storm Brewery is situated near commercial drive, and will give tours anytime during business hours by appointment from Tuesday to Saturday. This is a smaller brewery than Granville, but the quality of the brews cannot be disputed. (Even if they only sell them in kegs.)
There’s plenty of websites which host events and post up information for lovers of the hop everywhere. Just Here for the Beer focuses on what’s new in the scene locally, including a handy list of BC breweries, a radio show available on podcast, information about local events and a featured beer of the week. Check out the BC Beer Guide for plenty of info on local breweries, bars, and other such goings on right across BC. If you’re looking to meet other lovers of the hop, check out Meetup.com for local beer appreciation classes and casual meetings of beer lovers across town.
And a couple more local tips for lovers of a good brew:
- If you love your beer you’ll love [as recommended by our fastidious readers] the Legacy Liquor Store in Olympic Village, Firefly Fine Wines and Ales on Cambie, and the Brewery Creek Liquor Store on Main. Many run regular events including tastings and workshops, and they all feature great craft beers from Canada and overseas.
- The Bitter Tasting Room in Gastown is dedicated to the memory of good old-fashioned beer culture in Canada pre-prohibition. Winner of the Diner’s Choice Vibrant Bar Scene and Late Night Find awards, this is a venue that combines an excellent selection of ales with a comfortably cosy ambiance.
Maria Tritton is a travel writer from England who specialises in transport arrangements for holidays including recently writing about car hire Ireland. The beer scene in Vancouver blew her away despite have experienced Oktoberfest in Germany.