Craft beer and cider enthusiasts from B.C. and beyond gathered in Penticton to celebrate this past weekend at the 23rd annual Okanagan Fest of Ale, which organizers are calling the best event to date.
“It’s a really awesome beer festival, everyone’s super nice,” said Ryan Parfitt, head brewer at Luppolo Brewery, whose Tart Wild Ale with Plum won the award for Best in Show. “People are always willing to try new beers, which is super fun, we love coming here.”
Some 66 craft brewers were on hand this weekend to showcase more than 200 craft beers and ciders to over 5,000 guests. The sold-out event also included plenty of food with a notable increase in food and beer pairings.
“We are always very fortunate to attract some of the best brewers and cideries to the event as well as guests with a keen interest in craft beers and ciders,” said John Cruickshank, Okanagan Fest of Ale Society President. “That combination has a really positive impact on the overall atmosphere. It’s great to see people trying new things and enjoying themselves at the festival. In addition, with net proceeds from the event going to charity, everyone benefits.”
The People’s Choice voting was managed by the crew from Canadian Craft Tours with awards for Best Beer, Best Cider, Best Food, and Best Label Design as voted on by attendees. The Judges’ Choice Awards were divided into twelve categories.
Bad Tattoo Brewing, located here in Penticton, took home the award for Best in Class of Pilsner, Lager or Kölsch.
“Penticton’s our home town, and you gotta love it when you win something in your home town,” said Robert Theroux, of Bad Tattoo. “It’s a real honour to have won. It feels great.”
The task of determining top honours for the Judges’ Choice awards fell upon a panel of nine industry experts. Joe Wiebe, beer writer, Craft Beer Revolution; Jan Zeschky, beer writer; Jason van Rassel, Original Levity and Avenue Edmonton; Wade Dhooge, Cask and Barrel; Jim Martin, Metro Liquor; Rebecca Whyman, Beernesday.com; Monica Frost, B.C. Ale Trail and B.C. Craft Brewers Guild; Lundy Dale, Pink Pints and B.C. Craft Beer Month; and Tim LaHay, Craft Beer Tourist.
“We were thrilled to once again have such an esteemed panel of judges here with us at the festival,” says Warren Everton, Okanagan Fest of Ale judging chair. “They had a difficult job tasting and evaluating 122 different beers and ciders to determine the best entries in 12 different categories and then to agree on the overall Best in Show award. The winners represent an amazing collection of the best beer and ciders around. These are well worth keeping an eye out for at your local liquor store, restaurant or tap room.”
Handcrafted awards, created by local artisan Tim Tweed, were distributed to the winners.
Judges’ Choice Award Winners
Best in Show: Tart Wild Ale with Plum – Luppolo Brewing Company, Vancouver B.C.
Best in Class
Best Amber/Dark Ale: Cinders Red Rye – CrossRoads Brewing, Prince George B.C.
Best Cider: Dad Bod – B.C. Tree Fruits Cider, Kelowna B.C.
Best Fruit Beer: Park Life Passion Fruit Ale – Bomber Brewing, Vancouver B.C.
Best IPA: Humans IPA – The Parkside Brewery, Port Moody B.C.
Best Pale Ale: Fashionably Late – Moon Under Water Brewery, Victoria B.C.
Best Pilsner/Lager/Kölsch: Los Muertos Cerveza Negra – Bad Tattoo Brewing, Penticton B.C.
Best Saison: Pamela – BNA Brewing Co, Kelowna B.C.
Best Sour: Tart Wild Ale with Plum – Luppolo Brewing company, Vancouver B.C.
Best Specialty Beer: Nightwatch Coffee Lager – Lighthouse Brewing Company, Victoria B.C.
Best Specialty IPA: Hit the Deck Hazy IPA – Fernie Brewing Company, Fernie B.C.
Best Stout/Porter: Péché Mortel Imperial Espresso Stout – Brasserie Dieu du Ciel, Montreal, QC
Best Wheat Ale: Sublime Pineapple Hefeweizen – Moody Ales, Port Moody B.C.
People’s Choice Award Winners
Best Beer: Blueberry Blast Kettle Sour – Dead Frog Brewery, Aldergrove B.C.
Best Cider: Broken Ladder Pears & Peaches Sparkling Cider – B.C. Tree Fruits Cider, Kelowna, B.C.
Best Food: Brodo Kitchen, Penticton, B.C.
Best Label Design: Moscow Mule – Dead Frog Brewery, Aldergrove B.C.
Best Label Design Runner Up: Los Muertos Cerveza Negra – Bad Tattoo Brewing, Penticton B.C.
Not only does the festival host a venue for beer enthusiasts, but it also generates money for local Penticton charities. Since 1996 the Okanagan Fest of Ale Society has gifted over $637,000 in net proceeds back to the community. 2018 Charitable grant applications will be made available online June 1 to 30, 2018.