Excitement is brewing in Penticton as one of the longest running and largest festivals dedicated to craft beer starts today.
Organizers are encouraging people to buy their tickets ahead of time or they just might not get in.
“We still do have tickets, but we’re pacing well ahead of where we were last year so we don’t know how many we might have at the door. We’re the first big event of the spring. It’s a great way to welcome spring, craft beer, craft cider and delicious food,” Ginger Budinski, event co-ordinator for Okanagan Fest of Ale said.
This is year 23 for Fest of Ale in Penticton taking place Friday, April 13 from 4-9 p.m. and Saturday, April 14 from noon-6 p.m. at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.
Sixty-nine craft brewers/cideries have committed and festival goers will get a chance to taste over 200 different beers including new releases, experimental brews and cask ales.
Budinski’s advice for first timers is to download the Untappd app for their phone to ensure they get to every beer they wanted and keep track of their favourites.
“You can look at the beer list and make your own list. Really plan their attack.”
Budinski recommends festival goers really pour over the lists so they get a chance to taste beers that they can’t find in stores or that are new releases.
“Also make sure to hydrate and make sure to eat,” she said with a laugh.
Ten new breweries will be at Fest of Ale this year including Backroads, Boneyard Brewing, Dageraad Brewing, Dieu du Ciel,Elevation 57 Brewing Co, Hathi Brewing Company Inc., Luppolo Brewing Company, Mariner Brewing Trading Post Brewing, Two Wolves Brewing, Whitetooth Brewing Company Ltd.
New this year will be a Fest of Ale Best Team Tee on Friday night. Staff from Travel Penticton will be judging.
For the foodies a number of breweries have teamed up with area restaurants to offer delicious craft beer, cider pairings.
One of the pairings is Howling Moon Cider House and Craft Corner Kitchen who is serving up sticky beef ribs in a sauce made with cider, topped with peanuts and cilantro, plus warm apple cider stuffed donuts.
Additional pairings include Cannery Brewing paired with Brodo Kitchen, Tin Whistle Brewing paired with Nest & Nectar, Eurowennie paired with Four Winds Brewing and Tree Brewing paired with Surf Side California Street Food.
In addition to the beer and the food, there’s also entertainment throughout the weekend including Aidan and Mandy, Brian Highley, DJ Shakes, Great White North, Hot Ticket, Josh and Bex, Justin Koshman, Marshall Potts, Mason Burns, The Thursday Night Jazz Band and more.
There’s also a brewing education station put on by Trellis and Vine Craft House and there will be information about the local and provincial craft beer scene at the CAMRA/BC Ale Trail booth.
Cast your vote for People’s Choice Best Beer, Best Cider, Best Food & Best Label with the folks from Canadian Craft Tours. People’s choice winners will be announced Saturday at 5 p.m. Judges’ Choice winners announced at 3 p.m. Saturday. Stop by the onsite Pop Up Liquor Store to shop for your favourite festival finds with the crew from Clancy’s Liquor Store.
Tickets to the event are available online at www.ValleyFirstTix.com or can be picked up in person at the Valley First Box Office at the SOEC. Single day admission is $29 or a two-day weekend pass is $49.