Brewers and craft beer lovers across Canada came together for the Great Canadian Beer Festival on September 8th and 9th, 2017. This marked the 25th occurrence of the fest, and as usual, it was a smashing success. Hosted outdoors at the Royal Athletic Park in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, GCBF is a staple yearly event for beer lovers near and far.

This long-running festival opens to the public for two days, with an evening session on Friday followed by an afternoon session on Saturday. This year, 66 breweries and two cideries were in attendance, with more than 260 different beers and ciders flowing. In addition to the brewery specific booths, The Drake Eatery hosted a cask tent featuring 8 unique casks each day.

This year, Hoyne Brewing and Driftwood Brewing hosted a very well-attended Brewers Reception. Hours of labor from the staff at Jonkman Equipment, Cellar Tek, Canada Malting, and Container World provided fresh made BBQ chicken dinners for the 400+ exhibitors who attended.

The first Great Canadian Beer Festival was put on in 1993. At that time, B.C. was the home to many breweries whose names are still familiar today – Vancouver Island Brewing, Storm Brewing, Granville Island Brewing, Shaftebury Brewing, Swans Brewpub, Whistler Brewing, and Nelson Brewing, to name a few. The brewing scene in BC has overall developed a little quicker than the other provinces in Western Canada, with the number of B.C. breweries growing to more than 130.

The city of Victoria on Vancouver Island has played an active role in the scene for many years. It is the proud home to Canada’s first brewpub, Spinnakers, which opened in 1984. Prior to this, Canadian excise laws would not allow the beer to be brewed and consumed in the same location. The lobbying efforts of the Spinnakers team were successful and opened the door for brewpubs across Canada.

Beer festivals such as GCBF used to be few and far between, but have become more common through the past few years. As the industry has grown, it has given an opportunity for events to be held in smaller communities across the nation, attracting local crowds to partake in the wares of their neighborhood breweries and cideries. In fact, here are a few other festivals in B.C. that took place earlier in the year or are still to come in 2017 are:

Festivals earlier in the year:

  • Victoria Beer Week – March

  • Fest of Ale – Penticton, BC – April

  • Great Okanagan Beer Festival – Kelowna, BC – May

  • Vancouver Craft Beer Festival – Vancouver, BC – June

  • Tri-Cities Cask Fest – Port Moody, BC – June

  • Farmhouse Fest – Vancouver, BC – July

  • Whistler Beer Festival – Whistler, BC – Sept 16th-17th


Upcoming Festivals:

  • Fraser Valley Culture & Craft Beer Festival – Chilliwack, BC – Sept 23rd

  • BC Hop Fest – Abbotsford, BC – Sept 30th

  • BC Beer Awards and Festival – Vancouver, BC – October 21st