Last night was the 4th annual Fredericton Craft Beer festival grand tasting in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Each year the number of brewers and participants has grown and this year an afternoon session was added to accommodate the interest and to try to limit the congestion of just one session. Also a number of events were held during the week at various local establishments to celebrate the event. I had to work for part of the week so in the end I only attended the tasting.
As per the norm I attended the event with my partner Nicola and my friend Jason; this year our friends Joanna and Rod joined us. We started out with dinner at Vault 29, which was hosting an after party for the the afternoon session and had a warm-up beer to get us in the mood 🙂 There was a live rock-a-billy band playing called the Hypochondriacs who were really good and we left in good spirits for the show.
The convention centre where we attended the event was a short walk away, we had to wait in line for a few minutes to get our tasting glasses and VIP lanyard, then again to access the room but the lines moved quickly and two of our friends were manning the check-in desk…needless to say everyone was in good spirits.
Ahead of the event, an app had been released cataloging the brewers and their location on the floor so I had flagged some beers that I had wanted to try and a few breweries that we normally can’t access at the start. As usual we had all acquired VIP access which allowed us to start sampling an hour ahead of everyone else and gave us a bigger sampling glass…this year a Belgian inspired design.
I started at Barnone, a brewery from PEI because they are still quite small and we can’t get their beers here. I started out with their award winning Milk Stout and the night went on from there 🙂 Next up were two breweries from Cape Breton; Breton brewing and Big Spruce. I’m a big fan of each and Big Spruce had a special collaboration beer that they made with a local cider company and samples of their recently bottled Imperial Stout aged in old Whisky barrels. I loved the nose but the beer needs some integration to really shine.
Continuing my Stout tour I tried a Milk Stout from North Brewing in Halifax then ran into the best beers of the night from Hammond River which is located about 11/2 hours from Fredericton. Their IPA was excellent but I loved their White Stout…it was flavourful and perfectly balanced. Their Vanilla Porter has also won awards in the past.
Honestly the rest of the night was a mixture of stouts, IPA’s and lagers. Sadly I only had one or two red ales which has seemed to fall to the side of the beer craze. One good sign was that there were a number of sour/Brett/Gose type beers present. Sometimes the latest trends take their time to get to this part of the world so it’s good to see some breweries taking a chance on these types of beers. The most unusual beer that I tried was a purple Maise corn beer from Big Axe (a favourite brewery of mine), which was based on the Peruvian Purple Corn Beer. I have visited Peru and have had their version of the beer and while this version was different it had some of the qualities, I salute them for taking a chance on making something different.
Overall, in my opinion the event was a success, the number of brewers have grown and with two sessions it appears that the demand is there. I sampled 20 different beers over the course of 31/2 hours so some semblance of variety was present. I do lament the lack of any real food options aside from potato chips, there is a lot of beer involved so maybe some finger food would be a smart idea…but of course this takes away from vendor space and probably their are some rules/by-laws/laws to be considered.
Next year I hope to attend a few other events during the week but for now I’m always happy to support this event by attending the grand tasting.
On a happy side note I won a tankard as being the most active person on the events new app which of course will only encourage me to taste a few more suds.
Until next year!