I am heading back to the mainland after attending the Great Canadian Beer Festival in Victoria with my fiancé, aunt and uncle. I will unpack particular beers, brewers, breweries and tasting later, I just wanted to write down my impressions and an overview of the festival while it was still clear in my mind.
To start: I had a blast. I attended the Friday event and it was a lot of fun. There were 56 beer tasting booths plus one cider booth and 5 food booths. Obviously I only managed to taste a fraction of the beer on offer (174 plus 4 ciders) so we focused on breweries that are difficult or impossible to find locally, local breweries with interesting sounding casks or one-offs, and a couple of brand new locals with each of us getting something different at each booth and sharing it around. The whole event just has a fun atmosphere, where else can you drink roughly 4 pints in the sun surrounded by fellow beer geeks? Spending hours talking beer with my family, brewers and random strangers while tasting things I have never tasted before really could be my idea of heaven.
The beer itself had its good, it’s bad and it’s ugly, with heavy emphasis on the good. The number of beers I liked vastly out numbered the beers I didn’t and I can limit the one I hated to just 3 (all the same brewery so I only spent one token trying them all, no great loss). I came away with some new favorites that will be going into the fridge and some brews to look for when I travel.
This years festival was definitely themed on Canada, show casing many breweries from the BC, the Prairies, Ontario and Quebec plus one from the North-West Territories, two from Oregon and one from Washington. It really shows how craft beer has grown here in Canada with so many breweries popping up.