Vancouver Craft Beer Week goes all in
Vancouver Craft Beer Week is back, wearing a poker theme this year and taking one of its signature events to the River Rock Casino in Richmond.
The festival’s opening night at the Roundhouse features beers made by men taking the big gamble, opening small breweries hoping for a big payday, or at least an honest living. Brassneck, Main Street, 33 Acres and Bomber are all due to open this year in Vancouver, joining about 90 craft breweries already spread across B.C.
The craft beer market has been growing in double digits in B.C. for years now, so opening a new neighbourhood brewery may be less of a gamble than it’s made out to be, as long as you have a good brewer on board. Time will tell.
The nine-day festival features offerings from 60 breweries, parties at 30 venues in Vancouver and Richmond. The two-day wrap-up party at the end of the week draws 2,400 people.
Food and drink are all provided in the price of admission at the VCBW Opening Night Gala. Food is by the new Craft Beer Market, now open in the historic Salt Building with possibly the biggest set of taps (100+) in the city. Beers will be presented by the aforementioned new and just opening breweries as well as Four Winds, Powell Street, Bridge and Central City Brewing among others.
“We want to showcase the new wave on the brewing scene,” said festival organizer Chris Bjerrisgaard.
The gala begins with the ritual tapping of the VCBW collaboration beer, a recreation of craft brewing pioneer Storm Brewing’s Red Sky Alt. Storm brewer James Walton’s Johnny Rotten facade belies a near-medieval approach to brewing and his beers made a big impression on those brewers who would come after him, Bjerrisgaard.
“When we approached Graham With at Parallel 49 he wanted to do an homage to James and one of the first craft beers he had ever drank,” he said. “It’s going to be very old school.”
Proceeds from the sale of the collaboration beer will go to restrateur Mark Brand’s Better Life Foundation to purchase Save On Meats meal tokens to be given to people in need.
If you were hoping to go to one of the two Hoppapalooza festival nights at the Alibi Room – a VCBW legend – you can forget it. All 240 tickets sold out in one hour.
“It was crazy,” said Bjerrisgaard. “We doubled the number of tickets for Hoppapalooza and they were just gone, 260 tickets. Portland Craft’s tasting event (June 5) is half sold out after 24 hours.”
Festival organizers trimmed the number of events this year and focussed on making sure every event is just that, an event. On average events are bigger, so there are actually more tickets – about 6,000 – available for the entire week’s schedule, “so you’re really going to know you’re at a party,” said Bjerrigaard.
3 p.m. June 1
Pekinpah supplies the Carolina-style meats and fixins, two beers are on the house then $4. Music by Warren Murfitt and the Lonesome Curve Band.
Biercraft Belgian Showcase
6:30 pm., June 3
Pouring 50 Belgian and Belgian-style beers all night long. The all-inclusive price includes all your beer and plenty of food including poutine, frikandel and croquettes.
Cicerone vs Sommelier
7 p.m., June 5
Legacy Liquor Store
Cicerone Don Farion of Biercraft competes against sommelier Kurtis Kolt in a food and drink matching battle for the ages. Four courses from Chef Nick Gonzales and the giests vote for the best pairing.
VCBW Beer Festival
5 p.m., June 7 and 8
River Rock Casino
The VCBW Beer Festival features beers from 50 breweries hailing from East Van to Belgium. You get a taster glass when you walk in the door and three tokens. Refills are $1.25. SkyTrain is seconds away.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST
In this exciting episode, host Randy Shore, Mike Bell craft brewer Conrad Gmoser and Alibi Room owner Nigel Springthorpe talk all things beer.
We explore Vancouver’s burgeoning craft brewing scene, the best taprooms in the city and home brewing hints from the experts. Craft beer walking tours, rare delights from Portland and barley-based religion.