In the beginning, Vancouver Craft Beer Week was a modest affair.
Just 100 people took part in the inaugural 2010 event — it wasn’t a “week” but rather a one-day festival back then — held inside the Heritage Hall on Main Street. Beer lovers threw back offerings from 20 local craft brewers.
“We were just a bunch people sitting around drinking craft beer and talking about how much we love craft beer,” said festival co-founder and events manager Leah Heneghan. “We were seeing the influx of more craft people and more craft beer being appreciated in B.C. It sort of seemed like the perfect time to start celebrating what we were doing here.”
Vancouver Craft Beer Week has got so big that it can no longer be contained to just one week. This year’s festival is 10 days long (May 26 to June 4) with 10 different events — culminating with the two-day VCBW festival at the PNE grounds (June 3-4) — that Heneghan expects will attract 15,000 people.
Here are five reasons why you should take part in Vancouver Craft Beer Week:
Vancouver’s Big Rock Urban Brewery (310 W 4th Avenue) will host a collaboration tap takeover, noon to 5 p.m., on May 27 that will highlight the community spirit that exists within B.C.’s craft industry.
“In the craft beer community it seems like people are challenging each other to do better and taking advice from each other and seeking advice from each other,” Heneghan said. “It’s a great spirit of working together to help make the whole industry better.”
Some of B.C.’s top craft brewers — Ravens, Bridge, Four Winds, Steel & Oak, Bomber, Red Racer, Powell Street, Twin Sails, Field House, Callister and Dogwood — worked together to produce an array of collaboration beers. One of the most interesting is joint effort between Gibsons’ Persephone Brewing and Vancouver coffee company Ethical Bean who will unveil a fair-trade coffee-infused IPA. Tickets at $49.
IT WILL BE A HAZY AFFAIR
After 10 days of celebrating craft beer you may start to feel hazy … which is in keeping with this year’s theme of hazy, unfiltered beers. Every year, the VCBW commissions a collaboration beer co-produced by two or more local brewers. The 2017 collaboration beer is the Hazy Pale infused passion fruit and guava from the four breweries (Moody Ales, Parkside, Yellow Dog and Twin Sails) of Brewers Row in Port Moody.
“Beer doesn’t have to be clear. The haziness is a celebration of the yeast and other ingredients,” said Heneghan. “You don’t have to be afraid of cloudy beer.”
The Brewers Row will host a Block Party in the Parkside Brewery parking lot (2731 Murray St, Port Moody) on May 28, noon to 5 p.m. Tickets are $25.
Meanwhile, The Donnelly Group will celebrate unfiltered goodness with their IP-Hazy Whole Hog Cookout and Crawfish Boil, June 1 at the Lamplighter Pub in Gastown. They’ll be spinning a full pig on the patio (save me the snout!) and serving up spicy crawfish while pouring the haziest selection of IPAs available. Tickets are $49.
FEATS OF STRENGTH
Vancouver’s colourful Cobalt Cabaret (917 Main Street) will be the site of the Copper & Theory Feats of Strength, from 4 — 10 p.m. on May 28, the week’s silliest event in which both brewers and beer lovers take part in strongman/strongwoman displays including keg stacking and a pushup competition.
“It’s a hilarious event with a fantastic selection of beer,” said Heneghan.
BEERS AND MURALS, TOGETHER AT LAST
The Vancouver Craft Beer Week and the Vancouver Mural Festival will celebrate the merging of art and beer at their co-headquarters (877 E Hastings Street) on June 2, 7 — 11 p.m.
“We’ll have a live mural, so people can see the process and watch art being created … all while drinking great craft beer,” said Heneghan, whose group plans to operate a beer garden during the 2017 mural festival, June 24 — Aug. 12.