The annual Great Canadian Beer Festival is returning to Victoria for the 25th time Sept. 8-9, 2017.

Canada’s longest running craft beer festival was first held indoors at the Victoria Conference Centre in 1993, with 2,000 people attending.

After 10 years, organizers moved it outdoors to Royal Athletic Park, which plays host to 9,000 thirsty beer lovers over two days.

This year’s poster celebrates the festival’s 25th anniversary.

This year, the Great Canadian Beer Festival will feature 66 breweries and two cideries – mostly from British Columbia, but also from elsewhere in Canada – pouring more than 240 individual beers and ciders.

Also, for the first time, the Drake Eatery Cask Tent will host eight additional breweries serving unique cask beers. Several local vendors will also be on festival grounds offering a variety of food options.

The festival includes a variety of live entertainment, including Victoria’s famous gypsy marching band, Bučan Bučan (see above).

Additional entertainment is provided by attendees themselves, many of whom show up wearing creative costumes.

It’s a great event for groups of friends or colleagues to enjoy together, and it also makes for an ideal date night or weekend getaway for beer lovers from elsewhere. You’re sure to make new friends while discussing the hop profile of that amazing IPA at Booth 28.

Photo courtesy of GCBF.

Bucket-list event for beer lovers

There is no better opportunity to explore BC’s incredible craft beer scene. Of course, it’s impossible to visit all the booths (don’t even try!).

But, picking some regions randomly, you could taste beers from Prince Rupert (Wheelhouse Brewing), Port Moody (Moody Ales, Twin Sails Brewing, or Yellow Dog Brewing), and the Sunshine Coast (Persephone Brewing or Townsite Brewing), for example.

Vancouver’s Faculty Brewing at GCBF 2016.

Most of the breweries work hard to decorate their booths, and quite often the person pouring your beer is the brewer who made it, so it’s the perfect opportunity to ask them a question or just chat about their brewery.

Four Winds Brewing Co.’s brewmaster Brent Mills serves a beer at GCBF 2015.

Check the breweries page on the GCBF website to plan your strategy in advance. Maybe you want to visit all the breweries that are new to the event this year, including A-Frame BrewingBackroads BrewingMt. Arrowsmith Brewing, Riot Brewing, Twin Sails Brewing, and White Sails Brewing.

Celebrating 25 years of attendance since Year One are Swans Brewery, Spinnakers Brewpub, Vancouver Island Brewing and Granville Island Brewing.

Photo courtesy of GCBF.

GCBF runs on Friday, Sept. 8, 4-9 p.m., and Saturday, Sept. 9, noon-5 p.m. Tickets are available online as supplies last.

Photo courtesy of GCBF.

And if you’re concerned about the weather, remember: “It’s always sunny for BeerFest… even when it rains!”

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