Last year someone mentioned that there was no Beer Fest thoughts by a local blogger. There was a reason for this; it is our time to enjoy, be with friends and relax. No thinking, no analysis just enjoy some great local beer. Lucky for you I have no friends and can't learn to relax. Here are my thoughts about this years Great Canadian Beer Fest.
The food looks great this year. There are two regulars (Ali Baba Pizza and that delicious Caribbean place) and four food trucks. Thank you food trucks! Menus are posted on-line so you can plan ahead.
I'm assuming there will be lots of awesome volunteers, great musicians and entertainers. I wonder if that guy in the Mad Hatter outfit will be doing card tricks again. But enough of that; let's talk about the beer.
In previous years the local brewers have delivered lackluster casks, with the exception of Lighthouse, Moon and Swan's. Many of the other casks in attendance were a dry-hopped regular beer. That is not a cask, it's an afterthought. This year, we cask people are in for a treat. Of the 40 casks that I noticed, there were only three that mentioned they were dry hopped regular beers. Twenty two casks did not mention anything unique about ingredients or yeasts. To me this says beer in steel barrel and put on counter to look good. While the remaining fifteen noted a unique brewing technique or ingredient addition. Top cask picks in no particular order
- Central City - Impy IPA collaboration with Ninkasi, P49, Gigantic aged in Cognac and Bourbon barrels
- Driftwood Singularity - Extra long boil them matured in Makers Mark bourbon barrels
- Lighthouse Currant Event - Soured with whacky yeast collection for nine months with additions of black currents, wheat, spelt, rye
- Moon x2 - Anniversary ale with grape juice on oak and Berliner with raspberry and Brett.
- P49 - Sour red ale in French oak for 18 months. Now that is planning
- Townsite - Kombuca wheat. This one sounds interesting.
These casks will be available on Friday. It should be sadly noted that Tofino will not have a cask at beer fest. Their spruce tip IPA last year was stellar.
I noticed 14 new BC breweries in attendance at this years beer fest. This is only 1/2 of the number of new breweries that opened in 2014, according to Jan Zeschky. I plan to check out the ones that are furtherest from: Three Ranges (Valemont) and Wheelhouse (Prince Rupert). True, Barkerville brewing is far away in Quesnel, but their beers are readily available in Victoria. The list of new beers to try is daunting, but here are my picks:
- Brassneck Magic Beans - Brown ale with cold brewed coffee
- Canoe Rye IPA - brewed in collaberation with Gerry Hieter.
- Cider Riot from Portland - everything
- Deep Cove - patersbier
- Fuggles and Warlock - Black Rye IPA (the name says it all)
- Green Leaf Acid Trip - Berliner weiss
- Three Ranges Red Ale
- 33 Acres Seasonal (unnamed at time of GCBF listings) perhaps Axel M or Schol.
Most of the US breweries will be nestled within their own little enclave, with exception of Cider Riot from Portland. This area will be a mix of must and must not try beers. There are a large portion of these beers you can currently find on store shelves in Victoria. While the masses are lined up to try Stone's IPA, Fat Tire or 90 Minute IPA check out these hidden gems:
- Caldera Brewing IPA
- Kulshan Brewing IPA
- Saugatuck Milk Stout
- 90 Minute IPA - yah it's worth the wait.
- New Holland - Dragon's Milk Stout - Bourbon Barrel Aged HELLO!
Hopefully attendees will explore new beer options and not just drink stuff they can find on tap anywhere. Of the local stuff here are the items I am looking forward to trying:
- Big Rock Rhine Stone Cowboy Kolsch - Yes Big Rock. I had a sample of this Kolsch and found it very nice
- Lighthouse new Pilsner (Yes the Pilsner market it saturated but not many are any good)
- Longwood Ginseng - Just for an Untappd tick and giggles
- Old Yale Sasquatch Stout - this beer is great. 2014 BC beer of the year. Maybe Old Yale should mention this on their website
- Steel and Oak red pilsner - sounds like a nice twist
- Water from the cooler. Must stay hydrated
See you all there. I will be the one in my usual blue Hawaiian shirt.