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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Fest-Of-Ale 2017 – Penticton


April has come again and one of my favourite beer festivals has come and passed.  This was the 22 annual Fest-Of-Ale in Penticton.  This years festival was held on April 7-8th 2017 (Friday and Saturday).  This festival is held at the Penticton Trade and Concention Centre and is comprised of a large indoor area and a small outdoor section.  Both areas have live music as well as food options.

This festival continues to grow every year.  This year had an extra 15 breweries bringing it up to 65 and and a total of 6 bringing it up to 71 cider and beer producers.

This year the list included:

4 Mile Brewing Co.
Bad Tattoo Brewing Co
Banff Ave Brewing Co.
Barley Mill Brew Pub
BC Brew Co. and Distilling  – New
BC Tree Fruits Cider
Beau’s All Natural Brewing
BNA Brewing Co
Bomber Brewing
Boundary Brewing Company  – New
Bridge Brewing
Britannia Brewing  – New
Cannery Brewing Co.
Canuck Empire Brewing
Category 12 Brewing
Coal Harbour Brewing
Coronado Brewing Company
Crannog Ales
CrossRoads Brewing  – New
Dead Frog
Detonate Brewing
Doan’s Craft Brewing Company  – New
Dominion Cider Co
Dogwood Brewing – New
Double Mountain
Fernie Brewing Co.
Field House Brewing Co.  New
Firehall Brewery
Foamers’ Folly Brewing Co.  New
Four Winds Brewing
Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks  – New
Glutenberg
Hearthstone Brewery
Highway 97 Brewing Company Ltd
Howe Sound Brewing
Howling Moon Craft Cider
Hoyne Brewing Co.
Kettle River Brewing Company  – New
Lighthouse Brewing Company
Longwood Brewery
Marten Brewing Co.
McClelland Premium Imports
Moody Ales
Moon Under Water
Mt Begbie Brewing Co.
Naramata Cider Co.  New
NOMAD Cider – New
Orchard Hill Estate Cidery Ltd.
Parallel 49 Brewing
Persephone Brewing Co.
Phillips Brewing & Malting Co
R&B Brewing Co
Ravens Brewing Company
Red Arrow Brewing Company  – New
Red Collar Brewing Co
Red Racer
Red Truck Beer Company
Spinnakers Brewpub
Steamworks Brewing
Steel & Oak Brewing Co.
Strange Fellows Brewing  – New
Summerland Heritage Cider Co.
The Parkside Brewery  – New
The Tin Whistle Brewery
Torchlight Brewing
Tree Brewing Co.
Twin Sails Brewing  – New
Twisted Hills Craft Cider
Victoria Caledonian Brewery  – New
Whistler Brewing
Yellow Dog Brewing

This year there were more than 175 craft beers being poured over the Friday and Saturday with over 5000 people in attendance.  Once again this was an amazing festival with great beer and lots of great people!  Here are some of the beer and food that I tried while at the fest.

This year I spent more time working on episodes of Pacific Beer Chat than I did taking photos for the blog.

Episode 12 Found us talking with Crannóg Ales out of Sorrento.   Website, Google Play Music, iTunes, Stitcher.

Episode 13 Part 1 found us talking with a selection of breweries as seen below.  Website, Google Play Music, iTunes, Stitcher.

Cannery Brewing, Detonate Brewing, Bomber Brewing, Steel & Oak Brewing, Untapped Craft Imports, BNA Brewing, Kettle River Brewing and Torchlight Brewing.

Episode 14 Part 2 found us talking with a selection of breweries as seen below.  Monday May 1, 2017

R&B Brewing, Crossroads Brewing, Tin Whistle Brewing, Marten Brewpub and Yellow Dog Brewing.

Like every year this was an amazing event.  There are a ton of people but you never have to wait in line long for a beer.  So many beer festivals get so crowded that you almost need two samples glasses to make it to the front of the line.  In the years that I have attended this has never been an issue.

This festival has become one of my absolute favorites every year.  Most of the best breweries come to this festival every year and the people really love that fact!  This year there were so many new beers to boot!  It may not have been requested but this year so many breweries brought out North East Style IPA’s the super cloudy and juicy beers.  These beers are all the rage right now and I am very happy that this is the case.

The first day of the festival I really explored the beers that the festival had to offer as I usually do.  This year though the weather was very bad on the way to Penticton and you could pick out the people like me that took the Coquihalla Highway and the Okanagan Connector as were were still stressed out and drank a bit to much because of it.  On Day 2 I was once again one of the as they put it Industry Expert judges for the best beers of the festival.  After Juding beer from 10am on Saturday I decided like normal that the second day of the festival was far more about the food than the beer.  Luckily for me the food was amazing!

If I remember correctly on Saturday around 3pm all of the judges made their way to the Main Stage for the awards ceremony.  Here are the winners from this years festival.

The Awards were distributed as follows:
Best in Show, Judges’ Choice Award:
High Five Hazy IPA – Yellow Dog Brewing, Port Moody, BC

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

When it comes right down to it if you can only make it to one beer festival in British Columbia in a year then the Okagnagan Fest-Of-Ale is that one festival.  They also have an amazing pop up liquor store to boot!

Murderers Row Cask Event 2016 – Pentiction


Every year the Fest-Of-Ale seems to get better just like this year.  With being a one of the beer judges for three years straight now Murderers Row ends up being my favourite event of the weekend.  With the prospect of judging beer starting at 10am Saturday we have to take Friday’s festival and after parties easy.  With the judging done and lots of food sampled on Saturday the Murderers Row Cask event is when we can let loose.  Like every year the Cask event was held at the Kettle Valley Station Pub in Penticton right after the festival but took a separate ticket than the event and is hard to come by.  With every brewery that has a cask on tap having a few people at the cask event and many other breweries staff hanging out you are guaranteed to meet people in the beer industry at this party.

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In the past the ticket included a branded glass but this year they changed things up.  Everyone in attendance this year got a T-shirt with the event logos.  We also got our first pint of beer free.  With the change of glassware this year though there was a new option added.  You could either buy a pint of one of the casks or a flight making it much easier to test out all 14 casks!  A task that would be fool hardy if they only poured pints.

Cask Line up 2016
Bad Tattoo Brewing – The Early Scotch
Steamworks Brewing – Farmhouse Wheast Ale with Pink Peppercorns
Crannog Ales – Death of a Sales-Rep ESB
Tin Whistle Brewing – Back, Beast!  Peach and Apricot ESB
Red Collar Brewing – Dry Hopped Cherry Sour
Red Truck Beer Co – Blood Orange Lager
Parallel 49 Brewing – Tangerine Hefe Dream
Tree Brewing – Sm-Oaked IPA
Central City Brewers & Distillers – Superstellar with Strawberry
Cannery Brewing – Kiek in de Kok Baltic Porter
Powell Street Craft Brewery – Belgian Wit with Hibiscus
Fernie Brewing – Saisons in the Abyss
Firehall Brewery – Noteworthy Gin & Tonic Cocktail Cask
Phillips Brewing – Space Goat Dry Hopped Oat Pale Ale

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Like every year I tried to sample every cask and I was so close this year only missing one cask.  My big mistake was that I missed the same bloody cask two years in a row.  I need to try out Firehall Brewery’s Gin and Tonic beer!

This continues to be one of my favourite cask events every year!  The only cask event that comes close is held in Surrey twice a year.  with great beer, great people and a great live musician it makes for an amazing night!

Full sized photos

Fest-Of-Ale Beer Judging 2016 – Penticton


For the third year in a row I was invited to be a judge for the Okanagan Fest-Of-Ale.  Like the last two years the judging took place on day 2 of the festival.  Last year we had 10 Categories to judge from but this year it was up to 14.  The categories were as follows Pilsner/Golden Lager, Pale Ale, Wheat Ale, Belgian Golden/Saison, Amber/Dark Ale, IPA, Dark IPA, Dark Lager, Belgian Strong, Stout/Porter, Blender, Sour, Ciders, Fruit Beer.  With the increase in number of beers being judged this year the organizers of the Fest-Of-Ale invested a few new judges and broke us into three groups.  Each group of judges tasted a third of the beers put in for judging.  Each group picked their top beers beer of each category.  From those they were asked to pick their top two.  These two from each group were brought together to make 6 top beers to choose Best In Show.  From this we sat and sampled each of the six and discussed what one should be the winner.  The following photos of the Judges come from Kim of DogLeg marketing.

Meet The Judges

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Joe Wiebe – Author, Chelsea – Brewtiful BC, Jeremy – Craft Beer Vancouver

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Jason Van Rassel – Daily Beer, Stephen – The Growler, Jim Martin

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Me, Brady Strachan – CBC Radio, Jan Zeschky – Beer writer with The Province

This was a blind tasting like every beer competition.  We used a very simplified score card to decide which beer we though best fit the style and tasted best.  Once again Warren Everton was the Director of Judging.  Each group of three judges tasted their samples individually then came together to discuss their personal favourites.  When we came to a consensus of our top beer in each category the group decided what their top two beers overall were.  For my group there was not a ton of deliberation as we all were fairly similar in or opinions.  When all three groups came together after a short break to taste the top 6 beers and decide what one would be chosen as the Best In Show it actually went pretty well this year.  This year there was much less animosity about what beer should be the winner.  The only real hard discussion we had was should the winning beer be very approachable or should it be our overall favourite. When it came down to it I think we ended up picking the beer that was both our favourite as well as a very approachable beer.  The juding this year started at 10am like normal but it seemed to go a bit quicker than previous years.

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 – 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

After all the judging was done we had a few group shots taken by Kim of DogLeg Marketing.

After all the judging was finished we were left to our own devices with what was left of the Saturday portion of the Fest-Of-Ale.  The only thing we had to do was be at the main stage for 3pm so that we could be on the stage for the announcement of the winners.  The following photos are taken again by Kim of DogLeg Marketing.

Fest-Of-Ale Beer Judging 2015.

Fest-Of-Ale Beer Judging 2014.

Full sized photos

Murderers Row Cask Event 2015 – Pentiction


Once again the Fest-Of-Ale in Penticton was a massive success this year!  Just like last year the entire festival wrapped up with a huge cask festival at the Kettle Valley Station Pub called Murderer’s Row on April 11th, 2015.  This is a small event with tickets being highly sought after.  A large portion of the tickets go to breweries so if you get tickets you are guaranteed to be rubbing elbows with brewing royalty in BC.

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There were 11 casks on offer and the beer were poured into 12oz glasses.

Cask Line Up 2015
Phillips Brewing – Flamingopher
Crannog Ales – Hand Truck Porter
Steamworks – Cucumber Blond Ale
Lighthouse Brewing – Hoppy Belgian Wheat Ale
Rider Cider – Spiced Rum infused Cider
Tree Brewing – Dry Hopped Cascadian Dark Ale
Central City Brewing – Oaked Double Dry Hopped IPA
Red Truck Beer – Belgian Triple with Papaya and Pineapple
Firehall Brewing – Gin and Tonic Cocktail Cask featuring Stevely’s Gin
Cannery Brewing – Maibock with Tangelo Rind/juice and Mayers Rum
Bad Tattoo Brewing – Root Beer Stout with Sarsaparilla Root, Burdock Root and Winter Mint

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I was able to try a bunch of the casks including the following ones (only because I went back to my hotel for a nap before this event).

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Cannery Brewing – Maibock with Tangelo Rind/juice and Mayers Rum

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Phillips Brewing – Flamingopher

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Firehall Brewing – Gin and Tonic Cocktail Cask featuring Stevely’s Gin

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Central City Brewing – Oaked Double Dry Hopped IPA

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Tree Brewing – Dry Hopped Cascadian Dark Ale

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Red Truck Beer – Belgian Triple with Papaya and Pineapple

Murderersrowpen-030Crannog Ales – Hand Truck Porter

Of course every good beer fest needs great food and this pub has good food in spades.

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With all the beer being consumed I went for a very healthy option but they have a full pub menu with pizza and burgers and the likes.

If you have ever wondered what 11 casks look like all stacked together it is quite the site to see.  It is a rare chance to see so many casks to tightly packed.

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The following are some more photos of the event.  There was a great musician on stage also that played some of the best classic rock.  As the night went on people got to singing along with the musician and some even danced.

Full sized photos can be found here
If you would like to see a different look at the event check out Beermebc.com‘s post on the event.