Apr 22, 2011

Countdown to VCBW

In the past, I used to just have one craft-beer related event to look forward to each year: the annual Fall launch of pumpkin beer (yep, I love me some gourd-flavoured brew). But ever since last spring, thanks to the Vancouver Craft Beer Week folks, I've got something else to get excited about - something much, much bigger (and the fact that it coincides with second-round NHL playoffs definitely doesn't dull the celebratory vibe).

In only its second year of existence, Vancouver Craft Beer Week is 9 glorious days of tastings, premieres, casks, food pairings and general celebration of everyone's favourite malty beverage (you can read more about what VCBW means to the craft beer community on BC Brews).

But now, onto the important part - the events.

There are two options for VCBW libations: events and specials.

Specials are exactly that - beer or food pairing specials at a number of pubs and restaurants around the city during that week. A great option if you're not ready to commit to a pricey event.

Events are the real highlight. Everything from craft beer pub crawls to four-course food pairings to a beer-themed Mother's Day brunch is on the menu, with each day playing host to multiple events.

The lineup this year is impressive - more food pairing, more unique options. My one complaint: almost none of the food pairing events offer a vegetarian option. Not cool for a city with so many of us running around. When I asked, VCBW informed me that they did ask everyone to offer an option, and that since not all the menus have been finalized yet, they're hoping to confirm more. Fingers crossed!

Here's what stands out for me in this year's lineup:

VCBW Mother's Day Brunch
Sunday, May 8
3 courses, 3 beers - one of which is Red Truck Cask Apple Pie. Yeah, it's apple pie... in a glass. With booze. OHGODYUM.

Cicerone vs. Sommelier
Monday, May 9
Although I probably won't go because the menu isn't veg-friendly, this is a fantastic idea. Let the beer snobs and the wine snobs face off, once and for all! And let the rest of us, who are partial to one but enjoy both, sip from the best of both worlds.

R&B Cask Night at r.tl
Tuesday, May 10
Mystery beers?! Sounds fun to me. Especially when there's mention of flavours of South America. 

How to Brew at the Railway
Tuesday, May 10
Home brewing is gaining popularity - fast. For $20 bucks you can get tips from a couple of pros - plus two pints. Now that's value.

An Evening with Lagunitas
Wednesday, May 11
I just discovered Lagunita's Wilco Tango Foxtrot strong ale this spring (thanks to St. Augustine's) and have become a huge fan. It's strong and dark, just the way I like it. I also dig the Hairy Eyeball brown ale. For $45, you get both of these, plus 2 others, and four paired courses. No word yet on what the food is.

Brewing up Cocktails with Ninkasi Brewing
Wednesday, May 11
Ever since I was introduced to the Lotusland, I've been intrigued by beer cocktails. The description doesn't give much of a hint about what's actually happening at this event, but at just $10 it's probably worth a try.

Driftwood Brewery vs. Thailand
Wednesday, May 11
I had to throw this one on here because it's one of only 2 events that list a vegetarian option. Plus, it's Driftwood, so you can't really go wrong.

Brewery Creek Beer Festival: BC
Saturday, May 14
I love events like this. Hundreds of beer lovers gathered in one place with dozens of breweries and a bunch of little taster cups just waiting to be filled. Can you think of a better way to spend the afternoon?

In reality, there isn't a single event I'd turn down tickets to. The variety this year (and the addition of US breweries) is awesome. Now if only I had an unlimited beer fund...

ps - and just in case you're thinking "why would I want to go hang out with a bunch of beer snobs?", watch this video and re-assess your point of view:

P INTO IT from Vancouver Craft Beer Week on Vimeo.

That's right. Party in your mouth. You know you want to...

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