Quesnel’s Cariboo Craft Beer Festival introduces afternoon session this year

While the evening session sold out, tickets are still available for the 2 p.m. session March 16

This year’s Cariboo Craft Beer Festival has expanded to two sessions. The evening session has already sold out, but tickets are still available for the afternoon session. Photo submitted

There has been so much interest in the Cariboo Craft Beer Festival that the Rotary Club of Quesnel has added a second session this year.

The 2019 Cariboo Craft Beer Festival, which takes place Saturday, March 16 at the Quesnel and District Seniors Centre, features an afternoon session for the first time, as well as an evening session.

The evening session is sold out, but there are still tickets available for the afternoon session, which begins at 2 p.m.

“The demand has been there for a couple of years,” said Rotary president-elect Simon Turner. “Ticket demand has been such that the idea of having two different sessions was a natural extension. From a volunteer point of view, that next step was more logical to us than doing two different nights or a bigger event.”

During the Cariboo Craft Beer Festival’s two sessions, patrons are able to vote for the Best Brew. Turner says most years, and certainly last year, every single beer gets at least one vote.

“It gives you an idea of the range of people’s tastes,” he said.

This is the fourth year for the festival in its current form as a craft beer festival.

Turner says the Rotary Club did run a beer festival before for about 10 years, and it was popular, but it had run its course, so they took a few years off before starting the Cariboo Craft Beer Festival.

“It was Barkerville Brewing opening and the way craft beer grew that inspired us,” he said.

This year’s participating breweries are Barkerville Brewing Co. from Quesnel, Three Ranges Brewing from Valemount, CrossRoads Brewing from Prince George, Smithers Brewing from Smithers, Trench Brewing and Distilling from Prince George and Jackson’s Social Club and Brewhouse from 100 Mile House. As well, Left Field Cider from Logan Lake will be sampling ciders, and Phillips Brewing is bringing craft soda as a non-alcoholic alternative.

The breweries are all from the Interior and the north.

“When we did the reincarnation of the beer festival, that was definitely a priority of ours that we wanted to showcase the breweries of the north, from 100 Mile House up,” said Turner. “A lot of them aren’t big enough to have the personnel to go to a bigger festival, so Prince George, us and Williams Lake give them a chance to showcase.”

Of the breweries that are coming to Quesnel, three have never been here before: Jackson’s Social Club and Brewhouse, Smithers Brewing and Trench Brewing.

Several of the breweries that will be at the Cariboo Craft Beer Festival are part of the B.C. Ale Trail.

Turner finds the northern B.C. breweries really support each other.

“It’s very much a community,” he said. “They are very collaborative. I think that’s the reason why you have 100 Mile, some in the works in Williams Lake, Quesnel, Prince George, and then bit by bit, you are getting a brewery along the highway. The interest is there. Every community seems to be able to support a brewery. It’s very much a community thing. People identify with it and say ‘that’s the beer from our town.’”

Tickets for the Cariboo Craft Beer Festival are $25 each and include a souvenir five-ounce pilsner beer glass, two sample coupons, snacks, prizes and a burger from Craig’s Table. Additional samples can be purchased for $2 each.

Tickets are available at K-Max, Westside Liquor Store and South Quesnel Liquor Store.

Turner says the evening session sold out quite quickly.

“The event has been an evening festival, so I think people are used to the evening,” he said. “The way we looked at it, people would come in and enjoy a beer in the afternoon and will stay and grab dinner or do something else here. And there are people who don’t like to drive at night.”

Turner says Community Futures North Cariboo purchased tickets to use as giveaway prizes, and they will be doing that this week.

“The community support has always been quite strong for what we do,” said Turner.

Turner says many local businesses have gotten behind the event and become sponsors.

Turner thinks there are several reasons the beer festival has been so successful.

“There is the idea that it’s a community event, and you have lots of people who like to support events, no matter what it is,” he said.

As well, Turner believes growing interest in craft beer throughout the province has resulted in increased interest in the beer festival.

“People want to try something different,” he said. “It’s not that mainstream beers are bad, but people like something that takes a bit of a left turn. Certainly, Barkerville Brewing Co.’s success translates into people coming to our event.”

The Cariboo Craft Beer Festival is a fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Quesnel, and Turner says the money raised will go into local community projects and will support groups that have requested assistance from the club.


Lindsay Chung
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