Fredericton Craft Beer Festival 2013
The inaugural Fredericton Craft Beer Festival took place this past weekend (March 9th, 2013) at the Delta Fredericton. The event was well attended and thoroughly enjoyable with an impressive selection of great beers. Where some beer festivals have a number of international lagers that we've all had before, Fredericton Craft Beer Festival was a tribute to craft beers and had none of these "filler beers".
I was very pleased to be able to try beers by Bushwakker, based in Regina, Saskatchewan and by Shiretown out of Dalhousie New Brunswick. I'm not normally able to get my hands on these brews so that was interesting.
Also Picaroons had a cask version of their Yippee IPA that was just amazing. The most surprising beer of the festival had to be Moosehead Cask, it was flavourful and really interesting - not what I expected from Moosehead to be honest.
As fun as the festival was I feel like I could have had a better time if the event had done a better job of getting information to us. When I arrived I was handed a roll of tickets without explanation. None of the volunteers inside the venue that I asked knew what the tickets were for. I eventually went back out to the gate, asked the staff there and found out that the tickets were for the "Garrison Beer Education Room" but with no indication as to what the "Garrison Beer Education Room" was.
I eventually made my way to the Beer Education Room and, to my utter astonishment, found what seemed like more than a dozen more ales, barley wines and bock beers to sample by Unibroue, Brooklyn brewery and plenty of other breweries that had not been advertised in the lead up to the event and were not even included in the beer checklist pamphlet I received when I arrived!
... Except, the Garrison [District Ale House] Beer Education Room closed an hour before the end of the main event and precisely ten minutes after I discovered it, bummer. However, I still got to try Brooklyn Brewing's Monster Barley Wine and their Local 2, so I'm grateful for that.
Edit: The organizers of the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival contacted me after this post went up to explain why the Garrison Beer Education Room worked the way it did. According to them the Beer Education Room had to be treated as a separate event due for licensing reasons as a result they weren't able to promote in the same way as the main event. This explains a lot and I am grateful to the organizers for reaching out to me to explain this.
All in all, I am very glad I went. The venue was very nice, it was a great opportunity to meet some brewers and fellow beer geeks and to try a wide variety of really excellent beers. The VIP ticket was definitely worth it as the pass got me admitted to the event a half hour early and gave me access to the Bushwakker beers for only $10 more. Also the free chips and popcorn was a nice touch and the water jugs at glass rinsing station were always kept full. Next time (and I'll happily go again) I won't leave the Beer Education to the last few minutes. Also, it would be nice to be able to buy a few bottles to take home though I'm sure that would be another regulatory nightmare for the organizers.