Is you hoppy? What to expect from N.L's 1st craft beer festival
If you've ever dreamed of getting the chance to taste a wider variety of craft beers on the Rock, you might just be in luck.
The St. John's BrewFest is coming to the city in June, and organizers are planning to pull out all the stops.
Over 50 different beers, from four different countries, will be on hand at the festival. Of those beers, 40 will be gracing the province for the very first time.
Tom Beckett, with the N.L. Artisanal & Craft Beer Club, said the festival is planning to cater to both diehard craft beer drinkers and casual fans alike.
This is our opportunity to bring in a whole bunch of beer and let the members tell us what they think.- Tom Beckett
"We're looking for people who want to sit down and actually talk with their friends about the beers they're savouring," he said.
A big part of the conversation will happen online, Beckett said, thanks to an app called Untapped.
Untapped is an iOS and Android app that allows craft beer fans to check in each time they try a new craft beer and write a review.
It serves as a way for users to discover new beers, through recommendations from friends and the craft beer-consuming wider community.
Beckett said the festival is a chance for users of that app and craft beer enthusiasts to try new brews.
"To bring beer into Newfoundland you've got to bring in 40 two-fours [a 24 bottle case of beer], otherwise the transportation cost will kill you," said Beckett.
"This is our opportunity to bring in a whole bunch of beer and let the members tell us what they think about it."
Craft beer drinkers who sign up for the festival's VIP package will get a lesson on how to properly taste craft beer.
"You look at the colour, you look at the appearance, you look at the head, the carbonation, using your eyes. Then you are going to take your sniff, and probably a number of sniffs to figure out the complexity of it," Beckett said.
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"You're going to want to feel it in your mouth, the creaminess, the heaviness, there is some tannin bite, there is some hop bite. These things take place."
Beckett said one important part of the tasting process is figuring out how long a flavour sticks with you.
"The longer the flavour, the better the beer, the longer that experience stays with you."
Craft beer differs from what Beckett calls industrial beer, which is made in bulk, by having distinct flavours and aromas.
In other words, he said craft beer doesn't exist just to be guzzled down — it's about the experience.
Growing craft beer market
Steve Martin, from N.L. Promotions, the beer club's partner in the event, said craft beer festivals are a growing and lucrative market.
"Brewfests are kind of trending right across North America right now," he said.
"St. John's — with its Irish background, I think, and it's eagerness to take part in quality nightlife events — we thought this brewfest would be good."
In Newfoundland and Labrador, craft breweries are a nascent market.
The Yellowbelly, Quidi Vidi and Storm Brewing are already serving the St. John's market, and Martin said a new Port Rexton microbrewery shows eagerness for new brews is expanding in other parts of the province.
A beer of the festival will be crowned after a fan vote and if all goes well, organizers said there might even be a chance it will be stocked at Newfoundland Liquor Corporation outlets.
The St. John's BrewFest takes place on June 17 and 18, and tickets will be available for three separate shows.
With files from Carolyn Stokes