Fest-Of-Ale Beer Judging 2017 – Penticton


This was the fourth year that I was asked be a judge at the Okanagan Fest-Of-Ale in Penticton.  Once again the judging was held on day two of the festival on April 8th this year.  We had gone from 10 to 14 categories in the last two years but they scaled it back to 12 this year.  Those categories were Pilsner/Golden Lager, Pale Ale, Wheat Ale, Saison, Amber/Dark Ale, IPA, Specialty IPA, Dark Lager, Stout/Porter, Sour, Cider and Fruit Beer.  Once again we had 9 judges broken up into three groups of three.  The categories were broken up between the three groups in a way that everyone judged around the same amount of beer.  We were tasked with picking our favourite beer in each category that we were responsible for.  From there the groups were asked to pick their top two beer from those winners.  This gave us the top 6 beers for the entire group to deliberate over for the best of show.  I think this gets even more contentious every year and the discussions become arguments but we get down to a winner in the end.  The following photos of the Judges come from Kim of DogLeg marketing.

Meet The Judges

Chelsea – Brewtiful BC, Jeremy – Craft Beer Vancouver, Jan Zeschky – Beer writer

Rebecca Whyman – Beernesday.com, Rob Mangelsdorf – The Growler, Joe Wiebe – Author

Wade Dhooge – Cask & Barrel, Me, Jason Van Rassel – Daily Beer

Every year this panel is done by blind tasting with all samples poured by a team and handed out to each judge.  We do not judge to the full standards of the BJCP but only pick what each of the three judges in a group likes best then deliberate which of those should be our choices for number one.  Like I said above once we had decided which of the beers were the winners in our categories we had to choose our top two.  We had some pretty good discussions and disagreements about what beer should go on to the full judge panel.  Wow was there ever some serious disagreement this year when we came together as a group of nine to pick the best of show.  We started out with a very civil conversation where we discussed if the winner should be an approachable beer for the masses or what we thought was the most technically interesting beer.  Just this simple part of the conversation was a contentious one.  I don’t know if this was the most contentious judge panel that I have been a part of or not but this was definitely the one that had the most swings in our voting.  There was absolutely two different camps when it came to which beer should win.  The funny part is that the winner in the end was an underdog.  It wasn’t until one person voting against the winner said something that swayed the balance to the winning IPA.  I am really happy that I was able to come out on the right side of this vote in the end but it was close.  The judging once again started at 10am (Its a hard job but someone has to do it) and it went on for quite some time.

Once we had made all of our decisions about best beer of every category and best of show we were given the names of all of the winners we had chosen.

Best in Class, Judges’ Choice Awards:

Pilsner/Golden Lager Pixel Pils – Fuggles & Warlock, Richmond, BC
Pale Ale Dusk Pale Ale – Parkside Brewery, Port Moody, BC
Wheat Ale Summer Ale, Witbier – Steamworks Brewing, Burnaby, BC
Saison Sirens Chai Saison – Britannia Brewing, Richmond, BC
Amber/Dark Ale Brave Liver Scotch Ale – Mt. Begbie Brewing, Revelstoke, BC
IPA Street Legal IPA – Twin Sails Brewing, Port Moody, BC
Specialty IPA High Five Hazy IPA – Yellow Dog Brewing, Port Moody, BC
Dark Lager Dark Lager – Steel & Oak Brewing, New Westminster, BC
Stout/Porter Dry Irish Stout – Ravens Brewing, Abbotsford, BC
Sour Nectarous – Four Winds Brewing, Delta, BC
Cider Pippin’s Fate – Twisted Hills Craft Cider, Cawston, BC
Fruit Beer Park Life Passionfruit Ale – Bomber Brewing, Vancouver, BC

The People’s Choice Awards, voted for by guests at the event:

Best Beer                                                 Old Style Lager – Red Arrow Brewing, Duncan, BC
Best Cider                                                Pears & Peaches – BC Tree Fruits Cider, Kelowna, BC
Best Food                                                Brodo Kitchen, Penticton, BC

Best in Show, Judges’ Choice Award:      

High Five Hazy IPA – Yellow Dog Brewing, Port Moody, BC

This was once again an amazing judging session at the Okanagan Fest-Of-Ale.  To check out the post on the festival itself click here.  Here are some of the photos of the group of judges and our amazing group that set up the juding and poured our samples.

Here are the photos from the Awards ceremony that was held in the main hall of the festival a few hours after we had finished the judging session.

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Soirée Dieu Du Ciel – Steel Toad Brewpub


On February 25th, 2017 UnTapped Craft Imports and Steel Toad Brewpub in Vancouver hosted the Soirée Dieu Du Ciel.  When you hold a party with this epic Quebec brewery and the master brewer Jean Francois in attendance you know you are in for a treat.

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The $40 ticket got you entry into the event between 2pm and 5pm and that included a commemorative glass and 4 beer tokens.  The real star of the show was the rare beer that have not been seen in British Columbia as of yet.  These beers included the following:

Moralité (American IPA)
Ultra Mosaika (Ultra Mosaic Pale Ale)
Hélium (Helles Lager)
L’Austérité (American Barleywine)
Grande Noirceur 2015 (Imperial Stout)
Hérétique Blonde
Hérétique Obscura (Funky Black Beer)
Rigor Mortis Brandy/Cognac (Abbey-Style Brown Ale)
Isseki Nicho Pinot 2015 (Imperial Black Saison aged in Pinot Noir Barrels)
Exorciste Mûres 2015 (Blackberry Sour Whete)
Péché Véniel 2015 (coffee Stout)

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Exorciste
Solstice D’Hiver Barrel Aged
Peche Mortel Barrel Aged

This was the ultimate introduction to the beers of Dieu Du Ciel!  I have never had a bad beer from this brewery but these are the crème de la crème from them.  Why not get to know a brewery with their absolute bests?

With great events comes great people usually.  Here are my shots as well as some from Whats Brewing and Vine & Hops Wine and Craft Beer Tours.  It was great to meet Jean Francois the Master Brewer and chat with him about beer.

My absolute favourites from this event include the Grande Noirceur 2015 (Imperial Stout), Hérétique Obscura (Funky Black Beer) and the absolute winner the Rigor Mortis Brandy/Cognac (Abbey-Style Brown Ale). 

If you are not familiar with this brewery yet it is time to get familiar.  Their beer is available at liquor stores on the West Coast and well worth picking up.  This is truly one of the best breweries in Canada.

 

Tri-Cities Cask Festival Winter 2017 Pro-Am – Coquitlam


On January 22, 2017 I finally attended the Tri-Cities Cask Festival Winter 2017 Pro-Am.  What a festival it turned out to be.

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As beer festivals go this has to be one of the best fests for your buck in the province.  With $49 dollars getting you 10 samples, a custom burger and custom poutine you just can not go wrong.  I also love that this beer fest is 100 percent casks!  Basically every beer that was on offer was a one off creation just for this festival and that seems to be lost in the majority of beer fests these days.  When I saw that 577 people would be in attendance for this festival I expected the room at the Executive Plaza Hotel & Conference Centre to be larger.  Somehow with even this many people in the space it never seemed super busy.  I never had to wait more than a minute to get a sample of a beer I wanted to check out.

Here are the breweries that took part in the cask festival:

One of the more interesting facts about this festival was that it was a pro-am so there were also casks from some home brew clubs that were made in collaboration with local breweries.

Here are the home brew clubs involved:

Everyone that I talked to at the festival was having a great time and seemed to be really happy with the cask beer that was on offer.  I have to say that the burger and the poutine were also awesome!

The following photos are of the different beer that I was able to sample while enjoying the festival.  Every beer that I consumed was enjoyable but like all experimentation some were better than others and some were next level.

I had a great time tying out all of the beers that I did try and I wish that I could have tried more.  Here are my winners for the ones that I was able to try.

Best Commercial Brewery – Storm Brewing – Vanilla Brandy Black Plague

Best Home Brew Club – Full Barrel Brew Club (Langley) – Maple barrel Imperial Stout

Most Intriguing Beer – Mango Habanero Play Dead IPA

My Best of Show – Full Barrel Brew Club (Langley) – Maple barrel Imperial Stout

Now the festival had awards that were voted on by the ticket holders of the festival.  All voting was done via a website and near the end of the festival the winners were announced.  While one of the awards Lines up with mine the other one did not.  Here are the festival winners as per the overall festival goers.

Best Amateur – Full Barrel Brew Club (Langley) – Maple barrel Imperial Stout

Best Pro – Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks – Haze For Daze

Best of Show – Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks – Haze For Daze

There is no doubt in my mind I will be attending more festivals in the future put on by the Tri-Citires Cask Festival people and you should check one out too!  They consist of great beer, food, people and you never have to wait long for a sample like you do at some festivals. Also as the BC government opens up the liquor laws these pro-am events may become even more easy to host.

The next festival they are holding is taking an whole new spin on the festival and making it about the Women in Beer in the Province of British Columbia.  Not all of the women involved will be brewers per say but they are all integral in making their brewery awesome and will help make the casks for the event!

Make sure to check out Siris Cask Fest coming up on April 22nd, 2017.  An added bonus for the women out there the first hour is only open to Women!

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Tri-Cities Cask Festival Winter 2017 Pro-Am – Tickets on Sale


Tri-Cities Cask Festival has been going strong now for some time now.  Its once again time to purchase your tickets for the next one that will be happening on January 22, 2017!

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For some unknown reason I have not yet been able to attend one of the Tri-Cities Cask Festival Pro-Am events.  It is time I change this (and I am!) and its time you did too!  Transit is so easy to the Tri-Cities there is no excuse to hop on a bus or train and hit up this festival.  I have wished that I had gone every time I see the photos post event so I hope some of these photos might help sway you to look into purchasing tickets!

Photo credits for above belong to Tri-Cities Cask Festival and Tim Vandergrift.

If the photos are not enough to sway you lets list off the breweries that are confirmed to take part at this time.  Do take notice also that it is a pro-am so there are amateur beers being sampled also.  These could be the next head brewers of your local watering hole!

Participating Breweries are:

Participating Clubs/Amateurs are:

The tickets to the festival run you $49 and it includes more than any other festival that I have seen in the province.  The following is what you receive.

“Each ticket includes access to the event, 10oz Tasting Glass, 10 tokens for 4oz tasting (you can use 2 tokens to have the glass filled), 1 token for Custom Made Burger, 1 Token for Custom made Poutine, Event Program, Entry in to the Door Prize Draws. Additional tokens will be available at the venue for $2 each.”

The burger and Poutine bar sound amazing!  Here is what they say about it:

“There will be an area where a chef will assist you in putting together burger’s with the fixings of your choice from a selection of proteins (Beef, Chicken & Veggie), buns, condiments and toppings. This area will also include a poutine section where you will be able to choose your fries and garnish with a selection of toppings to make your own poutine. There will be a token for each item so you can get them at the same time or at separate times. There will be tables throughout the event space for you to then take your food to sit down and enjoy with your cask beer.”

This years event takes place at Executive Plaza Hotel & Conference Centre at 405 North Road, Coquitlam.

To purchase tickets follow this link – Universe Tickets

I will have a pair of tickets to give away in a contest next week!

CanCity (All Craft, All Canned) – Vancouver


CanCity is the latest annual craft beer festival happening in Vancouver.  CanCity is put on by WetApe and West Coast Canning and is a 100% canned craft beer festival held in the  Queen Elizabeth Theater  Plaza.  The tickets cost $25 presale and $30 at the door.

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With canned beer being all the rage these days it only made sense that canned craft beer would get its own festival.  The Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza made for a great location for a beer fest in the heart of downtown near transit and again in the middle of the forest of towers.

The breweries and cideries in attendance were as follows:  Barkerville Brewing (Quesnel), BC Tree Fruits Cider (Kelowna), Bomber Brewing (East Vancouver), Category 12 Brewing (Victoria), Deep Cove Brewers & Distillers (North Vancouver), Dogwood Brewing (Vancouver), FieldHouse Brewing (Abbotsford), Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks (Richmond), Granville Island Brewing (Vancouver), Hearthstone Brewing (North Vancouver), Howe Sound Brewing (Squamish), Lonetree Cider (Okanagan Valley), Moody Ales (Port Moody), Old Yale Brewing (Chilliwack), Postmark (Vancouver), Red Truck Beer (Vancouver), Steel & Oak (New Westminster), Twin Sails Brewing (Port Moody) and Whistler Brewing Co. (Whistler).

Trying to help the environment the festival decided to use plastic cups made of compostable material unlike the other beer fests that have non-recyclable glassware.  Just like the glassware here the can locally is much more environmentally friendly as it is far easier to recycle than glass.  It is especially true as most glass bottles locally in British Columbia are crushed each time they are used to be melted down and remade into bottles.

This festival was a ton of fun especially on this hot sunny summer day (one that seems to be rare this year).  I look forward to what this beer festival brings next year as they will have one more year to plan and learn from this year.

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Here are some full sized photos.