BC Beer Awards: So I am super late to the game in writing up my review of this event, I mean everyone has probably seen multiple copies of the list of 2014 Award Winners posted on many great sites. In fact I even shared my favourite of the reviews by Mike’s Craft Beer on twitter already (it’s good, be sure to click that link and read it). However, I decided that I still had some things to say that were worth sharing and talking about because I think that this was a truly great event for craft beer fans. in fact I kind of consider the BC Beer Awards as a way for the brewers to say thanks to their primary source of income (a theme you will hear about through this review). I also attended two classes, Off Flavours and Hops prior to the festival which were a blast.
Overall Impression of the Festival & Classes: The reason I think that this event was for the fans is primarily because a lot of the brewers brought really good stuff, stuff that isn’t always for sale and beer that represents what they can do versus what they are selling every single day in the market. Perhaps there were some bragging rights involved too, especially with the brewers challenge, however it did not have that “please buy our beer” vibe that some events do. Casks were all over the place, beer aged in barrels was present, they had wet hopped beer, brewers challenge beers, and beers that would never make to the likes of say the VCBW large tasting event (not a jib,e just honesty). There weren’t scantily clad women selling tasters, many brewers were pouring their beer and were more than happy to chat with us and you never had to wait for beer from any brewer. This was not really a marketing event in my mind, rather it was more about the beer and local craft beer fans than anything. In short it was awesome and the tickets clearly sell out for a reason, so I plan on attending this annual event whenever I can. As an added bonus. they also put on 4 classes prior to the festival. First I attended Off Flavours, where they used an off flavour kit on a local lager to demonstrate 6 of the more common off flavours, what causes them and of course how they smell and taste. The second course was all about hops and Parallel 49 brewed the same beer with four different dry hop additions to showcase the different aroma’s and flavours of a specific hop and we also got to sample a wet hop beer as well to taste the difference wet hopping makes.
Cost of Event / Value For Money: Early bird tickets were $30 after taxes and fees which got you a taster glass and 4 tokens. Extra tokens were $1.25 each and most food options were 3-5 tokens for small meals or 1-2 for snacks (like bacon filled twist bread). I probably spent maybe $60 on the festival and got to try at least 25 different beers with a bit of food, can’t really argue with that. The classes I took were $10 for Off Flavours and $15 for Hops, both well worth the cost for the beer alone not to mention that the information given was great. Running with the for the fans theme here, compared to what you would pay for some of the quality beers in the market I would say we got a pretty darn good deal on this and it was well worth the cost and was priced for craft beer fans.
Best in Show: I had a tough time with this one, there were at least 5 beers in the upper echelon’s of quality and taste for my palate. I mean the Barrel Aged Thor’s Hammer pictured above was amazing (and something I will buy and cellar), the Four Winds Wet Hopped IPA was fantastic, the Granville Island Lost in the Barrels was great, Vancouver Island Brewery Hermannator on Cask was a treat, pretty much everything from Fuggles & Warlock was worth a shout out including their Three Dawgs Fresh Hop but finally I had to land on Townsite’s Cardena Belgian Quad as my favourite of the night with it’s fruity malty sweetness, high abv yet balanced flavour for the win. For food, I had a scotch egg pie so that really isn’t beatable in my books unless they wrapped it in bacon. It should be noted that Yellow Dog Brewing’s Shake a Paw Porter won the real Best in Show award, Four Winds Sovereign Saison won People’s Choice, this is my impression of the best there was to offer.
Other Highlights of the Event: Well they gave out awards, I wasn’t overly interested in that however you get a bit caught up in it when you are there. Based on some of the beers being entered (at least a few are no longer in production) I think the brewers are more going for bragging rights and trophies in their cases more than anything when they enter beers into this show versus wanting a little paper “gold Medal” tag to put on their beers. Probably the other highlight worth mentioning was the crowd, one of the things I absolutely love about craft beer fans is that they always seem to make a great friendly entertaining crowd at these events. Most of the local bar scene is well, how do I put this lightly, full of douches who want to cause trouble (or at least it seems that way). I mean I won’t go to Granville Street at night anymore, it’s too crazy there for me, however at an event like this at no point ever did I feel any bad vibes. It’s not a hook up crowd, it’s not a get mad and fight crowd, rather it’s simply a night of fun enjoyment of craft beer for the fans and the brewers alike. I also wanted to point out again that there was never a line up for beer, this is a huge plus for the organizers ans I say thank you for limiting the tickets and making this event awesome.
Dissapointments: All I’ve got here is basically more brewers, more categories for awards, and better adherence to those categories (for example, a Pilsner won gold in the Light Lager category, even though they had a dedicated Pilsner category in which go figure a Lager won bronze). I was surprised that places like Brassneck and Old Yale Brewing weren’t there yet some how Bowen Island was – and they won an award, don’t get me started there as there were a few beers that either had a miracle brew or didn’t belong in the medal rounds in my opinion. For the most par t otherwise the judging was decent because well it’s always subjective. The night itself was fantastic, the best overall event for BC Craft Beer fans.
Other Pictures From the Event: