20th Annual Okanagan Fest-of-Ale a huge success!



Well over 4,000 people attended the two day celebration of the hop at the 20th Annual Okanagan Fest-of-Ale beer tasting event held in Penticton April 10th and 11th. Craft beer and cider lovers had the opportunity to enjoy tastings of great beers and ciders from 47 breweries and cideries.


Randy Kirkoski, Chair of the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale Society explained, “We are absolutely thrilled to announce that the 20th Annual Okanagan Fest-of-Ale was a tremendous success! We made a lot of changes this year, both to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the festival and also to reflect the changing desires of our event attendees. Based on the growing interest in craft beer, we had significantly more breweries interested in attending. So this year, for the first time ever, we set up an outdoor venue. This new outdoor section, which added a cool, new vibe to the event, was a great addition. It featured 7 brewers, 5 food truck vendors and an additional entertainment stage.”


Because of recent liquor licensing regulations, Okanagan Fest-of-Ale also featured a pop-up on site liquor store. Each brewery offered a selection of their beer for sale in this special store. Kirkoski explained, “Many of the beers featured at the festival are not available for sale at our local liquor stores in Penticton, so this gave Fest-of-Ale attendees a unique opportunity to purchase their favourite beverages to take home!”


Kirkoski continued, “To add some additional fun for our guests we had Moments Under Frame Photography set up a photo booth. Guests were able to put on some crazy props and create a special memory of the 20th Annual Okanagan Fest-of-Ale with a fun photo.” All photos are available for download on the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale Facebook page.


Earlier this year, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale Society announced a new partnership and financial support from the Penticton Hospitality Association. Kirkoski announced, “This year, many out-of-town guests attended the event from all around the Okanagan, the lower mainland, Prince George and even from Alberta and Saskatchewan. We met one couple who came from Brazil for the event! We were very pleased to hear that virtually every hotel room in Penticton was booked this weekend, which is a testament to the fact that people are willing to travel to Penticton to celebrate great beer!”


Each of the 47 participating breweries put forward their best brews and ciders for judging.  2015 awards were determined by industry experts Joe Wiebe, Craft Beer Revolution; Jim Martin, Metro Liquor; Mike Garson, Mike’s Craft Beer; Alan Moen, NorthWest Brewing News; Jan Zeschky, beer writer with The Province, Jason van Rassel, beer writer with The Calgary Herald; Josh Oakes, RateBeer.com and Sunshine Kessler, LoveAndBarley.com.  Warren Everton, Director of Judging for the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale Society explained, “We were thrilled to have such an esteemed panel of judges this year. They judged the largest number of beers and ciders ever submitted to our festival. They had a difficult job tasting and evaluating 83 different beers and ciders to determine the best entries in 10 different categories and then to agree on the overall Best of Show beer. The winners represent an amazing collection of the best that BC has to offer. Make sure you visit your local liquor stores and try out these winners.” The awards were distributed as follows:


Best of Show, Judges Choice Awards:  

Smoke and Mirrors – Coal Harbour Brewing; Vancouver, BC


Best in Class, Judges Choice Awards:

Lager/Pilsner: 1516 Bavarian Lager – Okanagan Spring Brewery; Vernon, BC

Pale Ale:           Coast Trail Pale Ale – Canuck Empire Brewing; Aldergrove, BC

IPA:            Double IPA – Powell Street Craft Brewery; Vancouver, BC

Hefeweizen: Hey Day Hefeweizen – Granville Island Brewing; Vancouver, BC

Ales:               Rum Runner – Persephone Brewing Company; Gibsons, BC

Stout/Porter:         Smoke and Mirrors – Coal Harbour Brewing; Vancouver, BC

Belgian:           White Bark Witbier – Driftwood Brewery; Victoria, BC

Fruit Beer:          Berried Alive – Longwood Brewery; Nanaimo, BC

Other: Super G – Longwood Brewery; Nanaimo, BC

Ciders:              Kingston’s Twist – Twisted Hills Craft Cider; Keremeos, BC


The Peoples’ Choice Awards, voted for by the guests at the event:

Best Beer:       Naramata Nut Brown Ale – Cannery Brewing; Penticton, BC

Best Booth:      Crannóg Ales; Sorrento, BC

Best Food:        Burger 55; Penticton, BC

Best Band:       Roland Allen Trio; Penticton, BC


Penticton resident Tom Riddler, who has attended every single Fest-of-Ale event for 20 years said, “Hands down, this was the best Fest-of-Ale ever. I’ve attended for 20 years straight and this was the best one yet! Thank you to all the organizers and all the awesome volunteers for pulling this festival together. You guys knocked it out of the park this year. Once again, a huge success. Thank you!”


Another group that has attended every single Fest-of-Ale event for 20 years is the Thursday Night Jazz Band. After their 20th annual performance on Saturday, the well-known local band was presented with an award recognizing them for their outstanding ongoing contributions to the festival.


Kirkoski summarized, “On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale Society, we would like to extend thanks to all vendors, sponsors, supporters, volunteers, bands, judges, media and attendees for making this event an incredible success year over year. Thanks to the great work from the team at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre and to Erick Thompson from ET2media for being the MC for the event. We are also very thankful to Get Home Safe for their support, to our local taxi operators and to The Coconut Express for shuttling our guests home safely.”

Not only does the festival host a venue for beer enthusiasts, but it also generates money for local Penticton charities.  In its twenty-year history, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale Society has gifted over $500,000 in net proceeds back to the community. For more information on the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale, visit www.FestOfAle.ca or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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