Hey Folks. I had hoped to be able to post this earlier but, I had a Ph.D course begin immediately after the festival, and, we had some family matters that required our attention.
While this in but an excuse, it did truly prevent me from spending the time I wanted to be able to write about the beer festival.
I had the opportunity to attend the second annual Winnipeg Beer Festival at Fort Gibraltar last weekend. This festival highlights the local craft beer scene by providing an opportunity to local breweries to attend and bring beers they wish to put on display. Being completely focused on local breweries, it’s an opportunity for a patron to sample beers those breweries wish to highlight.
The venue for this event, Fort Gibraltor, is a wonderful environment made more so by the presence of voyageur staff and the voyageur games. The “nail-game” is a favorite, especially as people consume more beer and become less accurate at hitting the nail. It’s rather entertaining to watch and even more entertaining to attempt. Shockingly, the blacksmith was active and giving demonstrations even though it was ~30 degrees in the shade. Kudos to that guy for being awesome.
Besides the spectacular venue, while Flatlander’s provides an opportunity for patrons to explore a significant number of beers from all over the world, the laser focus on local is really what makes the Winnipeg Beer Festival special. With so many breweries producing, there was a lot to try. It made for an excellent evening, especially given how darn hot it was.
I’ve said before how I love sours and how I wish there were more. Well, this event was a dream come true. There were a number of sours from Half-Pints, Trans Canada, Kilter, One Great City and Brazen Hall. These complemented the excellent English Bitter from Stone Angel, the Rye IPA Callahan from Torque, and a fantastic redux of Juicii from Kilter. Winnipeg Brew Werks was there showing off their Pilsner and it was my first opportunity to give it a try. It was a solid German pilsner and I look forward to trying it again in a more focused setting.
Another aspect of the Winnipeg Beer Festival that cannot be overlooked is the all you can eat poutine bar. While the fries go quick, the poutine was excellent and made even more spectacular by the toppings provided. From bacon, to blue cheese, to pulled pork, there was a fantastic array of poutine related accouterments to really help replenish the salt lost from the heat.
On the food topic, Mr. Biltong, a South African jerky producer, was present with some really fantastic jerky. What makes it different from typical jerky is that it is air-dried, more like a prosciutto, rather than being cooked until dried out. It was really tasty and if you have a chance to try some, I’d pick some up.
The event this year differed slightly from last years where there were tokens and a “winner” at the end of the night. This year the competition aspect was removed and it allowed for patrons to focus on the beer and the poutine. Overall, I had an excellent time at this event and I really enjoyed seeing some new beers as well as some favorites. This event is becoming a nice local balance with Flatlander’s. With the new Prost! event coming this fall from the Manitoba Brewers’ Association I am really excited about the opportunities for local breweries to highlight what they’ve got to those that might not always buy it in the store.