Cloudy skies couldn’t chase Cloverdale’s craft beer fans away, as more than 2,500 people came to the Bill Reid Millennium Amphitheatre for the first ever Clover Valley Beer Festival.
The festival, which took place on Saturday, Aug. 11, saw 40 different breweries fill the amphitheatre grounds. Many of these were smaller companies trying their hand at local festivals.
“We just wanted to keep it local,” Matt Glazier, owner of 3 Dogs Brewing in White Rock, said. He started his brewery nine months ago, and this festival was his second of the summer.
“We did the Fort Langley Beer Festival and really enjoyed that … We’re planning to amp it up quite a bit more next year.”
Like the breweries, local residents also saw the festival as a chance to try something new. Brett Celsie and Chris Andrus were not normally craft beer drinkers (“I usually stick to Stella and Budweiser,” Celsie said), but thought they would experiment after hearing about the festival earlier in the summer.
“It’s a lot of interesting flavours, that’s the biggest thing,” Andrus said about the festival. “You get to see the uniqueness of what these breweries are trying to do.
“Sometimes you wonder, ‘How are they in business?’,” he continued. “And other ones you’re like, ‘Hey, this is why they’re in business.’”
The festival featured a People’s Choice award for the best brewery: that award went to the up-and-coming 3 Dogs Brewing, which had many people trying their fruity Radler. As a prize, 3 Dogs Brewing will be available on draught at the Hawthorne Beer Market and Bistro in Cloverdale. The heavyweight champion by the number of tokens redeemed was Yellow Dog Brewing in Port Moody — they will be available at Sammy J’s Grill and Bar in Langley.
Although the festival was primarily about beer, there were also some other activities and beverages. Whistler’s Forged provided an enclosed area for attendees to try their hand at axe throwing, while less adventurous folks could play ladder ball a ways away. Live music played for a portion of the day, and food trucks were on site for those with the munchies.
Non-beer drinkers also had the option to try something different: kombucha.
“There’s a lot of people that come to a beer festival that don’t drink, which is kind of weird,” Natasha Paulinyi, director of sales at Bucha Brew, said at the festival. “There’s also a lot of people that come to a beer festival that don’t like beer.”
At the Cloverdale festival, Paulinyi found a lot of people who were unfamiliar with kombucha, a fermented black or green tea, trying the drink.
“People are really inquisitive, for sure,” she said.
The Clover Valley Beer Festival was put on by Gibbons Whistler, a Whistler-based company that has also put on beer festivals in Kelowna and Whistler Village. This year’s sell-out event has inspired the company to expand the venue for next year, to bring in more breweries and food trucks, events manager Tara Myers said.
Although it was the first time Gibbons had brought a festival to Cloverdale, it wasn’t the first beer festival for the community. Cloverfest, a craft beer and wine event in support of the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce, was held at Shannon Hall last fall. It is returning again this year.
The local real estate brothers Chris and Jamie Ruscheinski also supported the Clover Valley Beer Festival through promotions and a Property Twins VIP lounge (available to everyone). In return, a portion of the proceeds from the event went to the pair’s charity: Twins Cancer Fundraising.