AUG/SEP 2005 | REGIONAL | INTERNATIONAL
Okanagan Fest-of-Ale Celebrates 10th Anniversary
By Abram Goldman-Armstrong
To cross the Cascades in April isn’t always easy, so
there’d better be a damn good reason for it. The Okanagan
Fest-of-Ale in Penticton, British Columbia, is just that reason.
Held in the scenic lakeside town of Penticton, the festival
celebrated its 10th anniversary April 8–9. The fest
drew 6,700 people and featured 22 brewery and beverage participants,
local food vendors and live music. This year, the Lang Creek
Brewery from Montana joined Fish and Winthrop from Washington
as brewers from below the 49th parallel to attend the fest.
The event has grown in popularity over the years, and many
attendees traveled from Alberta and Washington as well as
from throughout B.C.
“Friday night was awfully busy. It felt about 30 percent
fuller,” said Stephen Brown, who has served on the fest’s
board of directors for four years. “Responsibility-wise,
it’s a greater burden. I make sure volunteers are having
fun. It shouldn’t be too much like work.”
For the second year in a row, a panel of brewers awarded
an Industry Choice award. This year it was broken into micro
and macro categories. Certified-organic Crannóg Ales
of Sorrento, B.C., received the micro award for its Hell’s
Kitchen, an Irish red ale, which has a soft, apple-like caramel-malt
aroma, big caramel malt flavor and lightness of body from
the addition of potatoes. Germany’s Warsteiner Brauerei
received the macro award for Koenig Ludwig Weissbier, a straw-colored
traditional Bavarian wheat beer.
The fest drew 6,700 people
and featured 22 brewery and beverage participants, local
food vendors and live music.
The People’s Choice award went to Bushman’s Lager,
an Australian import with a pleasant noble hop character.
The Double Chocolate Porter from Phillips Brewing Company
of Vancouver Island was also quite popular with the crowd.
Brewer Matt Phillips wanted to stay away from milk products
and used cocoa powder, giving the beer a distinctive cocoa
and chocolate malt aroma and a tart baker’s chocolate
flavor note. Sasquatch Stout, just released by Chilliwack’s
Old Yale Brewing, was also well received with its massive
black patent and chocolate malt flavor and aroma.
Clever beer T-shirts, such as Phillips’ “The
liver is evil. It must be punished” and Tree’s
“Drink real ale, ’cause Bud’s just for smoking,”
are a mainstay of the Okanagan Fest. Penticton’s Cannery
Brewing Company has replaced its Anarchist Amber’s photo
of its namesake mountain with a punky Circle A on bricks,
which was the most popular shirt this year.
The local food booths were a major hit, with small portions
of gourmet dishes available for only one or two tokens. Highlights
included Salty’s Beach House Black Pearl Oyster Bar
serving up fresh oysters on the half shell. Other food ran
the gamut from British meat pies to Peruvian paella to Greek
sausage rolls to fish and chips. There were plenty of options
to pair with beer — and plenty of beer styles for the
Abram Goldman-Armstrong lives in Portland,
Ore., and has made the trek to Penticton for the Fest-of-Ale
three years in a row.