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Leapbeer Field Trip – Great Canadian Beer Festival 2012

Great Canadian Beer Festival

With a name like that it has to be good right? While this year was the 20th iteration of GCBF, this was my first. It was also not likely my last. I had tonnes of fun sampling beers here, and the brewers came out to impress at almost every booth.

Learning from lessons of Hopoxia I started the day right, my sister and I had a plan. I avoided drinking anything other than water with the intention of getting my body super hydrated before the event. We went to Spinnakers and had some heavy food to sit in our stomach and help stabilize us for the days frivolities. I had the pulled pork nachos and she had the poutine. All loaded up with a nice heavy meal we hopped in a cab and made our way to the Royal Athletic Park for GCBF.

First thing I noticed, was the gigantic line up to get inside. It was not one, not two, but three blocks long. What I really should have done is register the blog for reporter access because they were allowed in an hour early. Oh well, live and learn I guess.

Welcome to GCBF, Prepare to wait

Another note about entering the event, is that we had our water bottles confiscated, which was a real bummer. One of my plans was to remain hydrated during the event so as no need to quaff the beer so fast. I wanted to enjoy the frothy goodness. The security at the event told me that this was due to people using their bottles for the beer instead of the designated drinking glasses. They did have some water available to drink, but because it was a really hot day and the water coolers weren’t plugged in it was all piss warm by the time I went to drink it. I was able to retrieve my bottle on our way out of the venue so it wasn’t all bad.

As you check in, they scan your ticket, take your water bottle, look through your backpack, give you a map and a 4oz drinking glass. Finally through security and then where do you head? For tokens of course. Drink tokens were 1.25$ a piece, the most you could grab is a bag of 16 for $20. My sister and I both grabbed one of them and set off to the brews.

First stop, Lighthouse Brewing. You may ask yourself why I would go to a local brewery when there were fifty four other breweries to see? Because I’m trying to be a Vancouver Island craft beer completist. They had a cask offering of a Sazerac Saison.

Sazerac Saison by Lighthouse Brewing

Next stop was Great Lakes Brewing for their Karma Citra IPA. (no pic) I liked it, but more for the scent of it. It had such a lovely floral hop smell but the taste was mostly bland. I took it to the dry hopped nature, which just adds scent to a beer.

Next up was our stop at the Noble Pig Brewery from Kamloops, BC. My first from them was their Georges ESB cask.

Then we got their Mocha Porter and Belgium Pepper Saison

I took a pic of their booth because we were so impressed with their beers. I went so far as to say their Peppered Belgian Saison was my favorite of the day. I was bummed out to hear that they were only available on site from the brewpub, but that just gave me one more place to plan and go see. For more info about Noble Pig, check out their website.

Noble Pig Booth

After Noble Pig, we began to shoot across the park, from booth to booth, trying to check off the list the beers we wanted to try. I don’t have a the order, but I made sure I hit them all up in untappd while we were there. At the bottom of this post is a complete list of new beers I tried that day. I did end up getting a couple of others that I’d had before as well. Here’s a couple of pics of beer from the event.

Mt Begbie’s (Revelstoke, BC)High Country Kolsch

 Wellington (Guelph, ON) Russian Imperial Stout

A few lessons I learned from this experience was; 1) Try to get there early if possible 2) Have a plan of attack (IE Get tokens, and map your route through the booths as logically as possible) 3) Proper eating (and drinking water) before, during and after helps out. I was totally fine driving home the next day at 6am in the morning. Something I could say others who went didn’t. I was told horror stories of 2 day long hangovers after GCBF.

My list of GCBF Beers, I’m going to do this alphabetically by brewery as opposed to how they were consumed. All told I added 24 new beers to the Leapbeer List.

Canoe Brewpub (Victoria, BC) – Southern Cross IPA
Crannog Ales (Sorrento, BC) – Back Hand of God Stout & Seasonal Fruit (cherry) Ale
Gigantic Brewing (Portland, OR) – Axes of Evil Pale Ale & The City Never Sleeps Black Saison
Great Lakes Brewing (Toronto, ON) – Karma Citra IPA
Lighthouse Brewing (Victoria, BC) – Sazerac Saison
Mt Begbie Brewing (Revelstoke, BC) – High Country Kolsch & Nasty Habit IPA
Noble Pig Brewery (Kamloops, BC) – Belgian Pepper Saison, Twig and Berries, Mocha Porter & Georges ESB
Paddock Wood (Saskatoon, SK) – Loki Double IPA & London Porter
Salt Spring Island Ales (Saltspring Island, BC) – Golden Ale
Spinnakers Brewery (Victoria, BC) – Peach Hefeweizen
Tofino Brewery (Tofino, BC) – Fogust Wheat Ale
Townsite Brewery (Powell River, BC) – Blackberry FestivAle
Trou du Diable (Shawinigan, QC) – La Saison du Tracteur
Vancouver Island Brewery (Victoria, BC) – Harvest Marzen & Blueberry Wheat Ale
Wellington Brewery (Guelph, ON) – Imperial Stout
Yukon Brewing (Whitehorse, NWT) – Red Amber Ale & Lead Dog Ale

I do plan on covering a few of these in more detail in the future as I have a couple of them in the leapbeer fridge.

One of the surprising things I didn’t expect to see was Cosplay. There was some very interesting outfits seen at GCBF. Some that obviously took a lot of thought. My personal favorite to Duffman.

Here’s a sweet video someone made from their 1400 pictures from Beerfest. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_zuzv4vhRk

Here’s a map from the event, with a nice list of all the beers that were available too. http://authorizedamy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/GCBF-2012_LU.pdf

For more information about GCBF, and where the info will be available for next years event. Visit their official website at http://www.gcbf.com/

All told I had a lot of fun. I would have liked to have gone for the Saturday as well, I wanted to try Lighthouse’s Blackberry Saison. Next year maybe.

Thanks for Reading.

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One thought on “Leapbeer Field Trip – Great Canadian Beer Festival 2012

  1. Pingback: Leapbeer Reviews #286-288 Salt Spring Flight Part 1 « leapbeer

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