Craft beer enthusiasts rejoice - on Oct. 5 from 7 to 9:30 p.m., O'Hare's GastroPub will host the first annual Steveston Beer Fest at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, with net proceeds going towards the Richmond Christmas Fund.
Grant Bryan, event organizer and operator at O'Hare's, said residents in Steveston have been talking about starting something up for years - and for a couple of good reasons.
"One, we wanted to arrange a fun event in the village for people with a passion for craft beer," said Bryan.
The other factor was that their establishment recently joined the Christmas Fund Roundtable, a group of 50 community and business members working to drum up support for the cause.
Family-owned and run for 26 years, O'Hare's has slightly shifted its attention towards offering the latest and greatest craft beers from around the world.
"In the last five years, we have seen an increasing focus on craft beer. The craft beer market in B.C. has been growing exponentially, and we've been driving that agenda for the last few years."
Pop into almost any liquor store in Richmond and you will find the usual beer staples, such as Molson Canadian and Coors Light. But thanks to the explosion of smaller brewing operations all over the province and beyond, there is a good chance that there will also be interestingly-named offerings lining the shelves like the Epic Hop Zombie, an IPA from New Zealand, and Fat Tire Amber Ale from Belgium.
Visitors to the sold-out festival held at the cannery will be able to sample brands like the above and many more from the 30 beer vendors, 10 of which will be local. There
will also be food booths set up by Steveston businesses such as the Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant, Mandalay Lounge & Steakhouse and Pajo's Fish and Chips.
"This is designed to engage beer aficionados, and people already in the craft beer circuit," said Bryan.
"But it is also designed to engage noncraft beer drinkers and Stevestonites who will be exposed to so many different beers in one room. When you taste beer side-by-side you get a feel for which ones you like and which you don't."
Upon entering the historic site, participants will be given a brochure and souvenir tasting glass, and they can wander from table to table throughout the main room.
Each booth will have three to five types of beer to try, and Bryan said the people pouring the drinks will be very knowledgeable and can answer any questions that may arise.
"There will also be a pumpkin beer competition, which will be determined by taster's choice. Tokens are available and anyone can vote on their favorite one between nine or 10 different kinds."
Bryan said he was surprised and elated that all 450 tickets were snatched up weeks before the event.
"I think local Steveston people are embracing the craft beer movement and are excited to have an event that's not downtown but in the 'burbs. We have over 100 beer club members on the liquor store side and I expect almost all of them will have bought a ticket, and regular customers from the pub will be there."
Although the festival is sold out, Bryan said customers can find more than 350 different kinds of beer in their store, and 17 varieties on tap in the pub. They open a keg of something "new and interesting" every Friday, with a recent favourite being the Hilliard's Chrome Satan California Common beer from Seattle. He also welcomes new members to join the O'Hare's Beer Club that, in addition to discounts and invites to exclusive tasting nights, includes a box of beer every second month containing 10 different types.
O'Hares is open seven days a week and is located at the corner of Steveston Highway and Railway Avenue. For more information about Beer Fest, including a complete list of vendors, go to the website at www.ohares.ca/beerfest.
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