beer column

here are my notes for yesterday's beer column on cbc radio one's on the coast with stephen quinn

Vancouver Craft Beer Week

This is the fourth annual VCBW, and runs this year from Friday, May 31st to Saturday June 8th. This year's theme is "All In", and when you see the line up of events, you are going to want to go all in!

VCBW is a jam-packed 9 day tour of all that is fabulous in the craft beer world here in Vancouver, including the craft beers we import from other places like the United States. Each day of the festival features a signature VCBW event. There are also 6 feature events and 6 walk up events.. The signature and feature events are ticketed, and you will need advance tickets to attend. Tickets are available through the website, and The walk-up events are just that, events that you show up to.

VCBW is like oktoberfest meets christmas meets cultural festival - there's beer, there's anticipation and there are events at venues all over town. It is my favourite week of the year, and I think most beer geeks feel the same way. People book off that week from work, clear their schedules and kiss the rest of their lives good-bye for those 9 glorious days. But the week is not just for the beer geek, it is for everyone who appreciates quality beer, delicious food, well-organized events and supporting their community.

The theme is a nod to all the new breweries opening up in the City - and how they're going all in despite the nay-sayers who tell them the City can't support another craft brewery, that the craft beer bubble is going to burst any day now. Sure, there will be a tipping point eventually, but the brewers don't believe it is here yet, and neither do the beer geeks and VCBW is just another way we show that the craft beer movement isn't slowing down any time soon.

Only a couple of the events are already sold out, but I would suggest getting your tickets to the remaining events soon! In particular I would suggest people get tickets to one of the festival days that close out VCBW, Friday June 7th and Saturday June 8th. The two day beer festival is being held outside Vancouver for the first time, but fear not, it will be easily accessible as it will be held in tents in the East parking lot of the River Rock Casino in Richmond - right on the Canada Line. What can you expect from this event? Lots of beer, of course, from more than 50 breweries from as near as East Van and as far as Belgium, and a dj spinning tunes to delight your ears and some of Vancouver’s best food carts on site to tempt your tastebuds. Events like these are a great introduction to craft beer as sample sizes are small, allowing for lots of tasting, and one-stop shopping with all the breweries together under one (tent) roof. (Friday 5- 10 p.m., or Saturday 2 - 7 p.m., tickets $35)

Also a great event for those of you not yet converted to craft beer is the 2nd annual Battle of the Bartender Beer Cocktail Competition at the Queen's Republic. At $25, this is the bargain of the festival! Bartenders create beer cocktails on the spot using a Driftwood Brewing limited release beer. You get to sample the cocktails, eat canapes, and down two driftwood pints - plus vote for your favourite cocktail. (Tuesday, June 4th from 6:00)

The other signature event I would suggest you get tickets to if you already know you are into craft beer and are a hop-head, is Brothers In Hop on Thursday, June 6th. Tickets are $75 which may sound a little steep, but let me tell you what you get for that $75: samples of beers from Ninkasi, Gigantic, Central City and Parallel 49; food to pair with those samples and a gift bag that includes giveaways from Dominion Barbers, which is valued at $75 - so there's no possible way for you to not get your money's worth. Additionally, the brewers from those four breweries will be on hand to talk about their hoppy brews. Since the other hoppy VCBW event, Hoppapalooza sells out in minutes every year, this is your chance to taste and discuss all things hoppy with other hop-heads. (at the Butcher & Bullock from 6-10 p.m.)

The Feature event I would recommend is the Portland Beer Week preview being held on Wednesday, June 5th at, appropriately enough, Portland Craft on Main Street. $49 gets you a taste of what Portland Beer Week has to offer, without having to travel to Portland. (5 - 10 p.m.)  As of yesterday, there were only 23 tickets left for this one, so get on it!

The walk-up event I would recommend is at the Yaletown Brewpub on Monday June 3rd from 7-9:30 p.m.. Called “Join the Revolution" it will feature the book launch of Joe Wiebe's "Craft Beer Revolution" about B.C.'s breweries, and revolution themed casks from brewmaster Iain Hill and friends. Joe's book will be available for purchase at the low price of $19.95, which price includes one beer ticket.

Besides checking out the website for a listing of all the events, there are two other things I'd like to mention. Firstly, there is a special collaboration brew every year to celebrate Craft Beer Week. This year it is based on an old recipe of James Walton of Storm Brewing - the Red Sky Alt. Brewed by all of the brewers in the province who were available to attend at Parallel 49 on brew day, it will launch at the opening of VCBW and be available around town during the 9 day festival, proceeds of which will be donated to A Better Life Foundation who will use the funds to support the Save On Meats Meal Token program.

And last, but not least, check out the 'Specials" section of the VCBW website for specials that are running throughout the festival at places such as Donnelly Group Pubs, Dockside Brewpub, Romer's Burgers and the Regal Beagle.


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