The Great Canadian Beer Festival returns to Victoria’s Royal Athletic Park on Sept. 7 and 8 with more than 75 breweries taking part. Obviously, you’re not going to be able to visit all the booths—nor should you try—so we’re here to tell you which ones should be at the top of your hit list. Aren’t we helpful?
This rustic farmhouse brewery in Quebec’s Eastern Townships is responsible for some of the most creative and sublime beers coming out of La Belle Province right now. Don’t be surprised if there’s a line.
New at GCBF this year will be the Alberta Brewers’ booth, showcasing the fine beers of our neighbours to the right. Taking part is Blind Enthusiasm Brewing (Edmonton), Dandy Brewing Company (Calgary) and Town Square Brewing (Edmonton), who are all wonderful and make wonderful beer. Just don’t mention the pipeline.
So hot right now. Between their barrel-aged releases and their latest cutting-edge craft creations, Dave Bowkett and his crew have been coming out with a new beer every couple of weeks so far this year, and they’re all pretty much phenomenal. See what all the fuss is about if you haven’t already.
B.C. Ale Trail-er
Since space is limited at GCBF, the B.C. Ale Trail-er is a great way for the breweries not lucky enough to snag a booth to get their beers into the festival. There will be 10 beers on offer from Field House, Strange Fellows, Yellow Dog, Backcountry, Kettle River, Whistler, Twin City, Gibsons Tapworks, Beach Fire and Cumberland, so no one would blame you if you just hung out at this booth all day.
Wheelhouse Brewing and Smithers Brewing
One of the best things about GCBF is the many remote craft breweries that come down from the middle of nowhere to share their beer. Smithers Brewing and Prince Rupert’s Wheelhouse travelled all the way from Northern B.C. and chances are, this will be the only chance you’ll have to try their beers this year. Which is a shame, really, because both of these breweries make excellent beer.
Speaking of remote breweries, the Winterlong folks are coming all the way down from Whitehorse, Yukon. I’ve never tried their beer, but I’ve heard good things, so let’s give them a warm welcome, OK?
Four Winds Brewing Co.
I mean, c’mon. Obviously.
Tod Creek Cidery
You always have to try at least one cider—it’s a GCBF rule (that I just made up). Victoria’s own Tod Creek is producing just about every kind of cider imaginable: dry, sweet, Spanish-style, dry-hopped, you name it. You’re sure to find something you like here.
Belgian-style ales brewed by an actual Belgian—not too many Canadian breweries can boast that, but Powell River’s Townsite can. The brewery’s recently expanded barrel-aging program is producing some fantastic stuff
• The 26th annual Great Canadian Beer Festival takes place Sept. 7 and 8 at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria. More than 75 breweries and cideries will be on hand, pouring 300-plus tasty adult beverages, along with live music and food trucks. Visit GCBF.com for more info and tickets.