IT takes a brave soul…
It’s nearly impossible to nab every release that comes out these days. Grabbing special releases from one of BC’s over 200 breweries, big-hitting European Legends, or one of the hyped brews from our American neighbours is a very tall order. Even if you could teleport yourself to every release, very few of us have the cash to drop on a $50-$70 dollar bottle more than once a year. If you’re like me, you don’t even have enough special occasions in your life to pop open the special brews you have already splurged on!
Beer festivals used to be a great place to catch up on the brews that fell through the cracks, but now, thanks to the rapidly growing industry and tight margins, those many coveted brews don’t show their face for the sampling very often. Luckily, also thanks to that growth, consumers are becoming more educated beer drinkers. Their tastes are more refined and they have a better understanding of what they want. To the delight of beer enthusiasts, nerds, and fanatics alike, we now have a festival that rises above the introductory lagers and ales and delves deeper into the rare and daunting beer; Weathered Beer.
In the words of founder, Johnathan Evans: “Weathered is a curated craft beer tasting and brewery art event. Celebrating Stouts, Barley Wines, Hazy Hops, Wild Ales, and Lambics!”
Developing The Recipe
Before developing Weathered, Johnathan “Jonny” Evans organized an annual private bottle sharing event. At the bottle share, enthusiasts would share their special bottles and chat about their favourite topic – beer! Wanting to bring this experience to the public, Jonny and his team have recreated this friendly and relaxed vibe for Weathered. Even as an organized and ticketed event, the experience feels more like a gathering of friends drinking some special bottles and (still) bonding over their favourite topic – beer. No one gets too rowdy, no loud music or activities fill the room with noise, it’s just a passionate group of buds drinking beer and enjoying each other’s company.
This year followed the same successful recipe as last year, with a few tweaks. The most significant of the changes being the addition of an artwork silent auction. Since label art has become such a big part of the industry, attendees had the option to bid on framed prints of some of the fantastic labels. 100% of the auction proceeds were donated to Mind The Bar Canada – a mental health resource, information and support system, and a community hub designed for the hospitality industry, focusing on major issues like depression, anxiety, addiction, and workplace harassment.
I Finally Got to Go to Weathered!
Not being able to attend last year, I was overjoyed to be able to make it this year. If you haven’t been, the hype does not oversell it. Weathered is the kind of beer festival that I wish there were more of. It’s intimate, respectful, and interesting. Walking into the room, you feel like a kid walking into your favourite toy store. There are no fancy booths set up by marketing teams. Only sections of the best beer to be found. I think Tristan Stewart, the mad scientist behind Temporal Artisan Ales put it best:
“Weathered brings unique access to incredible import beers, as well as a platform for local breweries to showcase some special offerings. It’s a fest for beer enthusiasts with a curated list of the absolute best-of-the-best beers that can be obtained.” – Tristan Stewart
As soon as you burst through the front doors, there are tables upon tables lining the walls. On each one, various bottles of beer sit waiting for you. There’s no need for frills and gimmicks here, it’s all about the beer. Upon closer inspection, you realize these are no ordinary bottles of beer… these bottles are the brews you have dreamed about your whole life or, at the very least, a long, long time.
BC Came Out To Play…
Starting with the special bottles and magnums (those are the big bottles), my eyes grew wide as I fawned over the mouth-puckering wizardry of Temporal Artisan Ales, then over to the industry veteran, Four Winds Brewing Co., and back over to the funky and experimental newcomer – House of Funk. I honestly didn’t know where to start and I did not want to finish. Even the legendary “Staff Only” 5th Anniversary Flanders Red from Field House made a brief (one bottle), but mighty appearance. Some out-of-towners were mixed in there, but I was trying to stay local as much as I could. That is, until I turned around and couldn’t believe my eyes…
Gueuzes and Other Boozes
A whole table of Gueuze! Although I preach “drink local” and do everything I can to support to local industry, it’s not very often that you get to fill your glass with beer from Jester King, Cantillon, Hanssens, Tilquin, and 3 Fonteinen (and more!) all in one place. That section alone probably had about $1000 worth in different bottles to try… and try I did. It was worth turning my face inside out over and over again from the sourness. I did have to take a break from the sours at one point to trek across the room to the “Haze Locke” to give my palate a rest. Thanks to juicy and refreshing concoctions from Boom Box Brewing and Superflux Beer Company, I had it in me to jump right back into the game and finish the lineup of Gueuze.
Fading to Black
After having my fill at Gueuze & Friends, I made my way to my biggest challenge yet, the aptly named “Murder Bar” – named for a murder of crows… no one died here. The Murder Bar contained all the stouts, Imperials (beer, not storm troopers), and Barley Wines you could handle. This section was not for the weak. I would venture there were more than 50 different beers there, each one darker than the last. With an average ABV of 10.75%, this was not a bar that I would get through. Luckily, the amazing and knowledgeable volunteers were there to guide me.
What an Event!
I’m happy to tip my hat to our local BC breweries. When compared side-by-side with various dark beer from all over the world, they stand loud and proud. I honestly couldn’t pick a favourite. There was some stand out beer at these tables, as well as some very hard to find imports that only the brave dare seek out. Now, I’m even more convinced that our local industry can go toe-to-toe with the best of them.
If I were to pick only one festival to visit throughout the year, Weathered would definitely be a strong contender. It’s an amazing event with a relaxed vibe where you taste unbelievable beer and discuss each one with a passionate stranger. It’s the one event that puts BC’s best up against international contenders in a way that you won’t find anywhere else. It also reminds you how amazing BC’s craft beer industry is. Thanks to Weathered, I’ve been once again reminded that you don’t need to travel miles and miles for great beer. Some of the very best stuff is right here in our back yard.