The Okanagan Fest-of-Ale celebrated its 19th year in Penticton earlier this month. The two-day beer-focused festival was held at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre on Friday and Saturday, April 4-5, with 35 brewers, cideries and premium beer importers in attendance.
The Okanagan craft beer scene is strong in Penticton, which is home to two breweries—Cannery Brewing and Tin Whistle Brewing—and the Barley Mill Brewpub. A new operation, Bad Tattoo Brewing, is in the works right now, set to open just a few blocks from the beach later this spring.
Several thousand beer lovers attended the Fest-of-Ale this year, enjoying a range of beers from some of BC’s best breweries, as well as one American operation from just across the border south of Osoyoos—Oroville, Washington’s Alpine Brewing—which many residents consider a local operation given the flow of cross-border traffic.
I participated on the judging panel for the awards portion of the festival. Out of 45 beers submitted to the blind judging process, we selected the White Rye IPA from Delta’s Four Winds Brewing as Best in Show and Best in Class in the IPA category.
The other category winners included: Lager/Pilsner – Hoyner Pilsner, Hoyne Brewing (Victoria); Stout/Porter – Holy Smoke Stout, Firehall Brewery (Oliver); Wheat – Robson Street Hefeweizen, Granville Island Brewing (Vancouver); Fruit Beer – Stiegl Radler, McClelland Premium Imports (Austria); Ales – Naramata Nut Brown Ale, Cannery Brewing (Penticton); Ciders – Red Roof Cider, Orchard Hill Estate Cidery (Oliver); Pale Ale – Red Truck Ale, Red Truck Beer (Vancouver); Belgian – Sunkissed Tea Saison, Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers (North Vancouver). The People’s Choice Award for Best Beer, as voted by the guests at the event, went to Fernie Brewing for its brand new Project 9 Pils.
This year for the first time some breweries joined up with restaurants to create delicious food and beer pairings. Penticton’s Brodo Kitchen worked with Cannery Brewing to create some incredible corned beef sliders with fennelkraut and Baltic Porter Mayo, as well as bison/root vegetable chill made with Naramata Nut Brown Ale.
The Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is a not-for-profit society that raises funds that are donated to a variety of charitable causes, scholarship funds and its own legacy fund, which will continue giving even if the OFOA itself stops operating. As of September 2013, the society had donated $462,000 to charities since 1996.
Penticton’s annual beer festival follows on the heels of the successful first annual Victoria Beer Week (March 1-9, 2014) and will be followed by several more BC.craft beer festivals through the spring, summer and fall, including: Vancouver Craft Beer Week (May 30-June 7), the East Kootenay Beer Festival (June 14), Phillips’ HOPoxia (June 28), the Great Canadian Beer Festival (September 5-6), and BC Craft Beer Month (October).
Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries in BC
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