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The Great Canadian Beerfest!

The lineup

Every year, in September, the world of hops, malted barley, filtered and unfiltered water and yes, even fruit, descends upon the small city of Victoria, BC. Don’t know what I’m talking about yet? Beer silly.

The Great Canadian Beer Festival is held every year on the first weekend after Labour Day. It has been running since 1993 (17 years!), making it the longest running beer festival in Canada. It is also Canada’s only craft-beer only major festival. This was my 7th year attending. (I even attended the year I was pregnant, but I didn’t imbibe).

It’s become a customary stop in what is a busy season for food and alcohol here on Vancouver Island. There are quite a few festivals having something to do with food, wine, beer or all three during the end of summer/beginning of fall season.

Every year it is sold out within days of tickets going on sale. This is a happening place to be and no one wants to miss the opportunity to indulge in craft ales from all over the province, country and even the globe. Most of the beer and cider being sold at this festival is not available in local retailers, and so attracts a mish mash crowd of party animals and true beer connoisseurs. At $1.25 a token (some beers costing two tokens) it’s not the cheapest way to get your drunk on. It is on the other hand, the best way to try new and exciting beers you might never have had the opportunity to try otherwise.

The lineup

Patience is key at the festival, as line ups are standard at the entrance, ATM machine, token booths, beer and food kiosks.

The lineup

Even the Eastern sea board is getting in on the action.

The lineup

There is fresh hops everywhere you go here, and some booths offer a place to loiter while you sip your 4 oz sample.

The lineup

Huh huh huh…

The lineup

A little entertainment. They get better as the afternoon rolls on, I swear.

The lineup

And here is my favourite part of the Festival. Yes I know, it is the Beer Fest. But I always come back to my first love, food. This booth has special meaning to me. Besides being the best damn pulled pork sandwich this side of the Mississipi. I used to work for this guy. Well, he was my leader, anyway. One of the best chefs I have ever worked with, he inspired me with his love for local food. Working with him led me to have my own little love affair with this city’s many local farms.

We worked together at Spinnaker’s Gastro Brewpub. He fired me. I won’t go into details. It was a good thing that happened though, as it led me to another job catering for a local company with the other best chef I’ve other worked for at this place.

The lineup

Every year I attend the festival, I can barely wait until I’ve tasted my first beer to get over to this booth and order up a pulled pork sandwich. The first year he was there, I went too late and they were sold out of pork. I’m not saying the beef brisket was bad, quite the opposite. I just wanted that pork sandwich people. If you’d ever had one, you’d know why.  It’s simply gourmet in it’s simplicity. House smoked, no preservatives or additives and the sauce is made from scratch too. If I lived anywhere near the restaurant, I’d never fit back into my skinny jeans.

The lineup
The lineup

Mmmmm, meat. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Nothing goes with beer, quite like BBQ’d Meat.

The lineup

Thanks for posing guys.
The lineup

It’s the kind of atmosphere where you meet a lot of people. People you may not have spoken to outside of festival grounds. Like these guys, or this guy:

The lineup

Dude, are you old enough to be here?

The lineup

It’s not a beer drinking festival without cops. Hey guys! Thanks for keeping me safe.

The lineup

Like I said, there are a lot of line ups.

The lineup

Especially, here.

The lineup

But, not if you’re a guy. Then you get to use one of these….lucky.

The lineup

Oh, and what was my favourite beer this year? As in years past, it has remained the same. Steamworks Great Pumpkin Ale. Oh how I love you, and miss you, and wish that you were available in my local beer store. Alas, I will have to travel to Vancouver to have you again. Better make it quick…that stuff sells out fast!

The lineup

So until next year, Beer Festival. I’ll be thinking about you.

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