I have cool friends.
My cool friends do some pretty cool shit… like organizing a local craft beer fest for charity (and raising $14000+ for the Canadian Diabetes Association while giving Frederictonians a fun event to attend during this winter that just won’t end). And in an effort to blog about more than just travelling around the world, I’m giving blogging about travelling 20 minutes from my house into town to check out year two of this super fun event a go.
Beer Fest had a location swap this year from the Delta to the still fairly shiny and new Convention Center. I loved the new location since it was closer to the downtown and made it easier to continue on with the festivities once the event wrapped up, if one so desired. We had VIP tix since Greg isn’t a huge fan of crowds and it’s nice to get an idea of what’s available before the masses appear. And there were a lot more masses this year – but not to the point that it was ever too crowded to fill our mini beer mugs.
This is the part where I had to go back and actually look at the little booklet they gave out (researching for the blog is totally not me)… there were at least 30 breweries/vendors, each having at least a couple different types you could sample. I think the final count of sampling options was well over a hundred. Some options came from near, like Grimross, Picaroons, and Red Rover. Other options came from far, like Bushwakker from Saskatchewan and offerings from Nova Scotia and Quebec. Some of the bigger names in Canadian beer were sampling some of their staples (which we ignored) and some brands you wouldn’t know they were associated with – think Molson, Moosehead, and Keiths.
In addition to beer, there were some eats… our market vendor friends from Magzy’s Kettle Korn were there with delicious samples for all to put into their beer-filled bellies. We’re market vendors too, so we know Saturday night events make for a very long day when you get up in the wee hours of Saturday morning for market. Thanks for taking care of us Mike!
This year there were some non-beer offerings as well – a great variety of ciders from Red Rover and Magners, and mead from Sunset Heights Meadery – a fun and unexpected treat!
Between Greg and I, we managed to sample over 50 different beers, ciders, and meads. Don’t judge! The cup was very small and sometimes the sample was only a sip or two! The highlight of the show for Greg was Big Spruce Brewing from Cape Breton and their Bitter Get’er India Black IPA. With Bad Apple Brewhouse, also from Nova Scotia, coming in a close second (with their American Pale Ale).
I don’t really like to drink beer I can see through, so I was thrilled with the selection of stouts and porters available for my sampling pleasure…like Big Spruce’s Cereal Killer Oatmeal stout, Uncle Leo’s Smoked porter, Garrison’s Martello stout, Pump House’s Muddy River stout, Big Tide’s Whistlepig stout, Le Naufrageur’s St. Barnabe stout, St. Ambroise’s Oatmeal stout, Lake of Bays Brewing’s Old North Mocha porter, and my almost always favourite Fullers Londen porter (insert shout out to the awesome guy from Churchill Cellars who filled my wee mug to the top each and every time with my favourite Fullers porter on more than one occasion, sometimes without me having to ask… and who we voted as the best rep last year). One of the Creemore Springs guys was also great fun – though their Warm Up to Winter beer that was strongly recommended to me (sorry Brenda and Julie) was terrible, despite smelling lovely.
Occasionally I like a fruity beer or cider – not for a long night of drinking with friends, but for sipping – and I enjoyed the pear cider from Magners, the Raspberry Kiwi mead, and the strawberry and grapefruit beers from McClelland Premium Imports. Admittedly, I did keep my cider sampling to a minimum to spare my guts some pain and suffering from all the mixing.
Of course the highlight wasn’t just the beer! So many friends and acquaintances were out and about for the beer sampling and it was a lot of fun to see some of my former work colleagues and spend the night with close friends. Post beer fest, we popped across the road to the James Joyce pub for a bite to eat and some always enjoyable socializing time with Asian # 1 (previously known as Alice) and Bill.
And a blog from me just wouldn’t be complete without a paragraph at the end full of random musings that I didn’t find a home for anywhere else in the blog… A clever touch from the event – the photographer with the frame made of a collage of coasters from all the vendors wandering around shooting candids all night. Things I might consider changing – I didn’t like the cup with the handle on it, even though it was cute. I don’t have little fingers, so I couldn’t really use the handle like I would expect to, and the vendors seemed to find it a bit awkward. If the little booklet had a list of all the beers at the end so it was all in one place, it would be much easier to check things off. We opted to not bother trying at the event since it was too much work to turn the pages. And to the volunteer “bouncer” who was incredibly rude to us as we were leaving and just waiting on someone to return from the bathroom – there’s no need of that and get off the juice. I realize it was a room full of drunk people and they wanted their turn to drink beer, but come on man… There’s no need to let the power of volunteering at Beer Fest go to your head like that! I don’t have a lot of patience for assholes. I also don’t have much of a filter between my brain and my mouth 🙂
So no deal breakers here for sure. We had a great night out and we’ll definitely be back for year three.
If you dig beer and missed it this year, stay tuned here for next year! It’s sold out both years.