Well over 4,000 people attended the two-day celebration of the hop at the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale beer tasting event.
“Hands down, this was the best Fest-of-Ale ever. I’ve attended for 20 years straight and this was the best one yet,” said Penticton resident Tom Riddler. “Thank you to all the organizers and all the awesome volunteers for pulling this festival together. You guys knocked it out of the park this year. Once again, a huge success.”
Okanagan Fest-of-Ale Society chair Randy Kirkoski said the event was a tremendous success and the changes they made reflected the changing desires of event attendees.
“Based on the growing interest in craft beer, we had significantly more breweries interested in attending. So this year, for the first time ever, we set up an outdoor venue. This new outdoor section, which added a cool, new vibe to the event, was a great addition. It featured seven brewers, five food truck vendors and an additional entertainment stage,” said Kirkoski.
Because of recent liquor licensing regulations, Okanagan Fest-of-Ale also featured a pop-up on-site liquor store. Each brewery offered a selection of their beer for sale in this special store.
“Many of the beers featured at the festival are not available for sale at our local liquor stores in Penticton, so this gave Fest-of-Ale attendees a unique opportunity to purchase their favourite beverages to take home,” said Kirkoski.
The event was a mixing of old and new with the Thursday Night Jazz Band performing for their 20th year and receiving an award recognizing them for their outstanding contributions to the festival. The other end of the convention centre floor was a flurry of activity with the latest addition to the festival, a photo booth from Moments Under Frame. This gave attendees a chance to use crazy props and create a special memory with a fun photo. All photos are available for download on the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale Facebook page.
Not only does the festival host a venue for beer enthusiasts, but it also generates money for local Penticton charities. In its 20-year history, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale Society has gifted over $500,000 in net proceeds back to the community.
Earlier this year, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale Society announced a new partnership and financial support from the Penticton Hospitality Association.
The event also bolsters tourism in Penticton during the shoulder season.
“This year, many out-of-town guests attended the event from all around the Okanagan, the Lower Mainland, Prince George and even from Alberta and Saskatchewan. We met one couple who came from Brazil for the event,” said Kirkoski. “ We were very pleased to hear that virtually every hotel room in Penticton was booked this weekend, which is a testament to the fact that people are willing to travel to Penticton to celebrate great beer.”
On Saturday, a panel of judges handed out awards in 10 different categories.
“They had a difficult job tasting and evaluating 83 different beers and ciders to determine the best entries in 10 different categories and then to agree on the overall Best of Show beer. The winners represent an amazing collection of the best that B.C. has to offer. Make sure you visit your local liquor stores and try out these winners,” said Warren Everton, director of judging for the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale.
The awards were distributed as follows:
Best of Show, Judges Choice Awards:
Smoke and Mirrors – Coal Harbour Brewing; Vancouver, BC
Best in Class, Judges Choice Awards:
Lager/Pilsner: 1516 Bavarian Lager – Okanagan Spring Brewery; Vernon.
Pale Ale: Coast Trail Pale Ale – Canuck Empire Brewing; Aldergrove.
IPA: Double IPA – Powell Street Craft Brewery; Vancouver.
Hefeweizen: Hey Day Hefeweizen – Granville Island Brewing; Vancouver.
Ales: Rum Runner – Persephone Brewing Company; Gibsons.
Stout/Porter: Smoke and Mirrors – Coal Harbour Brewing; Vancouver.
Belgian: White Bark Witbier – Driftwood Brewery; Victoria.
Fruit Beer: Berried Alive – Longwood Brewery; Nanaimo.
Other: Super G – Longwood Brewery; Nanaimo.
Ciders: Kingston’s Twist – Twisted Hills Craft Cider; Keremeos.
The Peoples’ Choice Awards, voted for by the guests at the event:
Best Beer:Naramata Nut Brown Ale – Cannery Brewing; Penticton.
Best Booth:Crannóg Ales; Sorrento, BC
Best Food:Burger 55; Penticton.
Best Band: Roland Allen Trio; Penticton.