Back in 2011, October was officially proclaimed BC Craft Beer Month… and there was much rejoicing!
That’s mostly because, ever since, the 10th month of the year has become stuffed with premium beer events across the province. These can range from kitschy Oktoberfest-style celebrations to full-blown beer events.
BC Beer Awards
The big kahuna is the BC Beer Awards & Festival, which returns to the Croatian Cultural Centre for its eighth year. This event has grown yet again, with at least 65 breweries set to pour their beer at the festival, while awards have been added for brewery of the year and innovator of the year, along with a raft of creative industry awards for packaging and design.
In a change from past years, the awards ceremony will be held in the first hour, allowing plenty of time to celebrate afterwards. Awards are handed out in 30 style categories; this year almost 900 entries were submitted, yet another record for the awards. Will Steamworks‘ Flagship IPA hold on to its crown as beer of the year?
The event is now sold out, but we’ll have all the results on the BC Ale Trail blog.
BC Craft Brewers Conference
Making its debut just a day before the awards, at the same venue, is the BC Craft Brewers Conference & Trade Show, which features a full day of seminars, a trade show and an abundance of networking opportunities.
Seminar topics range from growing a sales team and good HR practices to an in-depth look at dry-hopping and barrel-aging techniques. Tickets include access to all seminars, lunch, five drinks and entry to the official afterparty.
North Shore Beer Week
Another new event in this year’s BC Craft Beer Month is Vancouver’s North Shore Beer Week, which celebrates the burgeoning beer scene across the Burrard Inlet from the big city with a packed itinerary of events Oct. 6-13.
Highlights include an Oktoberfest at the Shipyards, a guided crawl of the North Shore’s breweries (which will soon number seven), a “brewery battle” at Tap & Barrel, a ribfest at Black Kettle Brewing and a brewmaster’s dinner at Deep Cove Brewers & Distillers. Cask nights, special food menus and special prices on North Shore beers feature throughout the week.
BC Hop Fest
It’s just missing out on BC Craft Beer Month by a day, but BC Hop Fest on Sept. 30 deserves a mention. It’s another event that’s become stronger every year since its debut in 2015.
The festival gathers more than 35 BC breweries at the BC Hop Co. farm on Abbotsford’s Sumas Prairie to showcase their fresh-hop creations amid the towering bines. Food vendors and live music are also promised for the event, which goes ahead rain or shine.
Harrison Beer Festival
Staying in the Fraser Valley, the Harrison Beer Festival is set for a sixth successful year. A cask night, beer festival and Oktoberfest dance take place over two days, which is another great excuse to visit this beautiful part of the province.
‘Tis the season for steins, wurst and lederhosen, as numerous Oktoberfest-themed events take place across the province. Your best bet is in Victoria, where Stein & Dine promises quality beer, Germanic food, and live, kitschy Schlagermusik at the Public Market on Oct. 20.
But a huge amount of communities around BC are dusting down their dirndls. Take your pick from Mill Bay (Sept. 30), Victoria again (Oct. 1), Kamloops (Oct. 1), Vancouver (Alpen Club, Oct. 6-7, 13-14, 20-21; Harvest Haus, Oct. 5-7, 13-14), Qualicum Beach (Oct. 13) and Nanaimo (Oct. 21).
There are certainly many more. Prosit!