Fest-Of-Ale 2016 – Penticton


With April comes one of my favourite beer festivals in the province in the Fest-Of-Ale.  This was the 21 annual event in Penticton and was once again a great party!  This two day festival took place on April 8th and 9th a Friday and Saturday.  Once again the festival was able to have an indoor and outdoor section that included beer, food and live music.  The Penticton Trade and Convention Centre was again the host location of the festival.

PicMonkey Collage(23)

Every year the festival invites new breweries to the festival.  This year there was just over 50 breweries and cideries in attendance.

This years brewery and Cidery list includes the following:
4 Mile Brewing
Bad Tattoo Brewing
Banff Ave Brewing
Barley Mill Brew Pub
BC TRee Fruits
BRB Brewing
Big Rock Brewery
BNA Brewing
Bomber Brewing
Bridge Brewing
Cannery Brewing
Canuck Empire
Category 12 Brewing
Central City Brewers & Distillers
Coal Harbour Brewing
Crannog Ales
Dead Frog Brewery
Dominion Cider Co
Driftwood Brewery
Fernie Brewing
Firehall Brewery
Four Winds Brewing
Hearthstone Brewery
Highway 97 Brewery
Howe Sound Brewing
Howling Moon Craft Cider
Hoyne Brewing
Lighthouse Brewing
Longwood Brewery
Marten Brewing Company
McClelland Premium Imports
Moody Ales
Mt Begbie Brewing
Old Abbey Ales
Old Yale Brewing
Orchard Hill Estate Cidery
Parallel 49 Brewing
Persephone Breiwng
Phillips Brewing
Powell Street Craft Brewery
R&B Brewing
Ravens Brewing Company
Red Collar Brewing
Red Truck Beer
Russell Brewing
Spinnakers Brewpub
Steamworks Brewing
Steel & Oak Brewing
Tin Whistle Brewing
Torchlight Brewing
Tree Brewing
Twisted Hills Craft Cider
Vancouver Island Brewery
Wards Cider
Yellow Dog Brewing

On the Friday I was able to get into the festival early as I was part of the Media for the festival.  It is nice to get some photos before the place gets packed!

The Friday event ran from 4pm until 9pm and was a great mix of people.  The crowd that comes after work to drink is quite civilized.  Friday’s crowd seems to be more interested in getting to know the flavours and brands on hand at the festival.

Once again the fist day of the festival was a total blast.  The breweries involved were great and the people attending where all really excited to be there.  Like always I took the Friday easy as I was once again one of the Judges for the festival.

After our session of Judging on Saturday the judges all headed back into the festival for day two.  For the general public the festival ran from 12-6pm.  Like always day two for me is more about the food and the people than the beer as we have judged so many beers.  There were still lots of great beer that I sampled though especially some of the beers that we judged as winners.  With the second day being during the day the crowd seems to both be younger and less knowledgeable about craft beer.  Saturday is more rowdy and there are way more costumes.  Something that seems to be very popular at some beer festivals and even more at music festivals.

At 3pm all of the judges had to be up at the main stage that is located in the middle of the indoor portion of the festival.  This is where the awards where given out to the winning breweries and cideries.  Kim of DogLeg Marketing sent me these following photos of the winning breweries.  I could not take them as I was standing on the stage in behind the winners.

Here is the list of winning beers as chosen by the judging panel.

Best in Class, Judges’ Choice Awards:

Pilsner/Golden Lager – Bohemian Pilsner – Hearthstone Brewery, North Vancouver
Pale Ale – Persephone Pale Ale – Persephone Brewing Company, Gibsons
Wheat Ale – Smoked Hefeweizen – Steel & Oak Brewing Company, New Westminster Belgian Golden/Saison – Old Barn Saison – Fernie Brewing Company, Fernie
Amber/Dark Ale – A Wee Angry Scotch Ale – Russell Brewing, Surrey
IPA – Slingshot Session IPA – Fernie Brewing, Fernie
Dark IPA – Disruption Black IPA – Category 12 Brewing, Victoria
Dark Lager – Black Lager – Tree Brewing, Kelowna
Belgian Strong – Delirium Tremens – McClelland Imports
Stout/Porter – Dry Irish Stout – Ravens Brewing, Abbotsford
Blender – Smoke & Mirrors Imperial Smoked Ale – Coal Harbour Brewing, Vancouver
Sour – Sour Raspberry – Old Abbey Ales, Abbotsford
Ciders – Calville’s Winter – Twisted Hills Craft Cider, Cawston
Fruit Beer – Tropic Vice Tropical Fruit Ale – Dead Frog Brewing, Aldergrove

Best in Show, Judges’ Choice Award: 

Persephone Pale Ale – Persephone Brewing Company, Gibsons

Here are some more photos from Kim of DogLeg Marketing.

Full sized photos

Once again the Fest-Of-Ale was a massive success in 2016.  If you can only make it to one beer festival in the province next year this is a great contender!  I forgot to take photos this year of the pop up liquor store but it was once again had an amazing selection of great beers.  I was able to pick up some from Torchlight Brewing that is usually only available in a small area in the Nelson area.

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East Kootenay Beer Festival (4th Annual) 2015 – Fairmont Hot Springs Resort


Sometimes really cool events come up that inspire you to go on a road trip.  On a visit to Vancouver’s Bomber Brewing I was made aware of the East Kootenay Beer Festival at Fairmont Hot Springs resort in the Far Eastern portion of the Province right on the Alberta border.  If you have been following this blog for a while you will know that last year I did a road trip around the Kootenays and loved it (Click here to read).  On that trip I fell in love with the Kootenays and could not wait to get back (but assumed it would be years before being back).

East Kootenay

A beer festival held at the base of a ski resort that happens to be at a Hot Springs resort sounds like a match made in heaven.  Already using many of my holidays I took a long weekend to attend the festival.  On Friday June 19th my Mom and I hit the road around 9am for our 850km trek to the resort.

EKBeerFest Route

Heading to the resort we headed East on Highway 1 until we got to the Coquihalla Highway.  The Coquihalla Highway brought us to Kamloops where we joined back up with Highway 1 until Golden.  Once in Golden hundreds of km from home we took highway 95 South to the resort. The drive is very picturesque and will take your breath away!

On arrival to Fairmont Hot Springs we were greeted with a welcome to the 4th annual beer festival.

Fairmont HS-035

Seeing as the last time I was at this resort it was only to use the public hot spring pools as my Girlfriend and I were camping down the highway we did a bunch of exploring around the resort.  Besides the Hotel portion of the resort there is also camping (although I think it was only for RV’s).  They also have a golf course and it looked like a mini golf course but I only spied it while driving by.  On top of this they also have a ski hill which rounds out their Winter operations and this is where the festival was to be held on Saturday June 20th.

Seeing as I wanted to get up early on Saturday to hit up the hot springs as well as head into Invermere to visit Arrowhead Brewing I headed to bed at a pretty reasonable time.  Once Saturday rolled around wristbands could be picked up after 1pm that would allow you into the festival grounds.  Shuttle buses started at 3:30pm to bring you up the 3km access road as the festival ran between 4pm and 8pm.

EKBeerFest-001

Breweries that attended this years festival were as follows:
Arrowhead Brewing
Banff Ave Brewing
Big Rock Brewery (Alberta)
Big Surf
Bomber Brewing
Bravo Beer Co
Cannery Brewing
Cariboo Brewery
Fernie Brewing
Hoyne Brewing
Last Best Brewing
McClelland Imports
Moon Under Water
Mt. Begbie
Okanagan Springs
Pacific Western (Scandal)
Phillips Brewing
Prohibition
Rider Cider
Russel Brewing
Stanley Park
Steamworks
Wild Rose Brewery
Yukon Brewing

The brewery list was fairly impressive considering the distance some of the breweries had to travel including all three Victoria Breweries that came!  The cost of the festival on its own was $49 and was all inclusive for the beer while food could be purchased from a food truck and the bbq stand.  There was live music played by the band Cod Gone Wild and they rocked it.  The festival was a blast!  Between the live music, beautiful setting and a bunch of beer that I had actually never been able to sample I was totally in my element.  The people from the Kootenays were amazingly friendly as well as all of the Albertans and the odd crazy person like me that came a long way to partake in the festivities.  I would not hesitate to head back to this festival in future years.  The beer was served from packaged products (Bottles and cans) as well as from tap depending on how the breweries transported it.

In some ways I would have to say that I had more fun at this festival than most I have been to.  Yes as a blogger and beer traveler I know many of the brewery staff but I did not know one festival goer at the festival!  I made some many great short term (festival) friends and had a ton of great conversions with interesting people.  There was even an after party at the ski lodge from 8pm until 11pm with a cash bar and other live music.  I headed down the mountain without sticking around for the after party to meet up with many of the brewery staff for more beer and a soak in the hotsprings.  Sadly when Sunday rolled around my Mom and I had to hop back in the car for anouther marathon drive.  This time we took the South Route though and went through Osoyoos and Manning Park on the way to Vancouver.

EKBeerFest Route2

This drive is a at least an hour longer than the Northern route but just as pretty.

For the sake of showing the entire route we took on the 1800km trek here are two maps one close up of the entire trek and one of the entire province of BC for scale.

I had an epic time in the Kootenays and so did my mom and I look forward to getting back sooner than later!  The East Kootenay Beer Festival for 2016 has already been announced so think about saving the date June 18th, 2016!  The long weekend model is quite feasible for Albertan and Okanagan residence and I would not hesitate to recommend considering going this route.  If like me though you live further West or even further North or South I would recommend taking a week and taking a few days to explore the province on the way to and from the Festival.  The Kootenays also have so much to offer in the way of Hot Springs, Breweries, hiking and really any outdoor activity you can think of.  Once you get to the Kootenays don’t run away as you will love every second you linger in this beautiful countryside.  If you can’t make it for the East Kootenay Beer Festival take a trip out to Fairmont Hot Springs Resort when you can you will not be disappointed! Congratulations Fairmont Hot Springs Resort for putting on a very successful event this year!

Fairmont Hot Springs Resort
http://www.fairmonthotsprings.com
5225 Fairmont Resort Rd,
Fairmont Hot Springs, BC

1-800-663-4979

Distances as per Fairmont Hot Springs Resorts website
Cranbrook, BC     108 km (67 mi)
Calgary, AB     299 km (185 mi)
Lethbridge, AB     392 km (244 mi)
Spokane, WA     410 km (255 mi)
Red Deer, AB     432 km (268 mi)
Kelowna, BC     490 km (305 mi)
Edmonton, AB     584 km (362 mi)
Saskatoon, SK     901 km (560 mi)
Vancouver, BC 850km or 950km (last one added by me)

Full sized photos.

So if you are as crazy as I am and live in Saskatoon you could make it to the festival in the same time it took me!