The sun shone, a gentle breeze blew off the Salish Sea and a wealth of world-class wild ales and saisons were savoured at Farmhouse Fest 2017.
Upward of 1,200 people gathered at the UBC Farm on Saturday for the third annual rendition of what is arguably the most distinctive beer festival in the province.
Set beside the farm’s orchards, where attendees can wander, sit or nap, Farmhouse Fest certainly boasts an idyllic setting.
The near-perfect weather this year helped, with temperatures in the low to mid-20s, light cloud cover and that soft breeze offering a pleasant reminder that the Pacific is less than half a kilometre west.
The setting is a draw, but the beer selection is what really pulls Vancouverites and visitors out west to the University of BC’s campus.
Almost 200 beers and ciders were being served on the day, within the rough style parameters of farmhouse, saison or wild ales.
Essentially, fermentation flavours and aromas produced by yeast and bacteria were the order of the day. That translates into any mix of fruity, spicy, peppery, funky and quite often tart or sour.
While these styles are becoming increasingly popular in the province, a fact showcased by the 19 BC breweries in attendance, the festival organizers did an incredible job of attracting some of the world’s premier names in this field.
They included Brasserie Cantillon from Belgium, which was represented by three of its sought-after ales; respected names from the US like Almanac, Cascade, The Commons, Holy Mountain and Jolly Pumpkin; and Quebec masters such as Brasserie Dunham, Dieu du Ciel!, Les Trois Mousquetaires and Le Trou du Diable.
Impressively, BC breweries held their own against these heavyweights of wild ale, with excellent brews on offer from the likes of Dageraad (Burnaby), Luppolo, Strange Fellows (both Vancouver), Steel & Oak (New Westminster), Yellow Dog (Port Moody) and Four Winds (Delta), whose Bloom cherry blossom farmhouse ale was brewed as the festival’s official beer.
While there’s a lot to try — including several Vancouver food trucks that were on hand for solid sustenance — there’s never a feeling of being rushed at Farmhouse Fest.
This is one of the more relaxed beer festivals out there, with drinkers encouraged to savour these ales. That’s made easier by the beautiful souvenir tulip glasses handed out to each attendee, which allow for greater appreciation of aroma and development of flavours as the beer warms.
With the sheer range and diversity of great beer, it’s nigh impossible to set a plan of attack for what you want to try. It’s better just to sip and wander, seeing what might catch your eye next.
The grounds never seem busy, either. Even though 1,200 might sound like a lot, it’s a comfortable cap for attendance that allows easy mingling — and an uninterrupted nap in the orchard, if needs be.
With its stellar lineup and laid-back vibe, Farmhouse Fest is sure to attract a significantly wider audience next year. It’s a great event around which to plan a visit to Vancouver and BC.