This Coquitlam Craft Beer Festival recap is written by Van Pours photographer, Luke Mikler, and homebrewer extraordinaire and frequent guest writer for Van Pours, Casey Foster (check out @bestcasebrewing). Luke attended the Friday night (March 9) portion of the event with his wife, Brooke, while Casey checked out the Saturday afternoon (March 10) edition with his girlfriend, Erin. Enjoy!
DAY 1 RECAP – LUKE & BROOKE
On a crisp Friday night in March, my wife Brooke and I impatiently waited outside of the Coquitlam Center Skytrain station for a community shuttle to take us up into the hills. We prayed that we got our transit directions right. Our anticipation grew as our shuttle wound up the mansion-lined streets. Snow flanked the road as we finally pulled up to our destination; beautiful Westwood Plateau Golf and Country Club. What better way to spend an evening than sampling countless beers paired with delicious food from local restaurants, and all for charity?
The Coquitlam Craft Beer festival is run by West Coast Experiences, partnering with Team Taylor of The Ride to Conquer Cancer for this installment of the semi-annual event. Over 40 craft breweries poured samples, and around 10 local restaurants, grocery stores, and caterers offered appetizer pairings. A grand prize raffle, silent auction, and wine draw rounded out the charity event, with all proceeds benefiting the BC Cancer foundation, through Team Taylor. The team will ride over 200 kilometers this summer (as they have since 2012) in memory of Taylor Parsons, who tragically lost his battle with cancer in 2003 at only 17 years of age. Since Team Taylor was formed, they’ve raised over $240,000 for cancer research with Taylor’s father, Steve, in the role of captain.
Brooke and I were greeted by friendly staff and building buzzing with excitement as we walked into Westwood Plateau Golf and Country Club. We grabbed our plates and tasting glasses and headed upstairs to one of two vendor areas to get our night started.
Our first stop was Backcountry Brewing. A long time favourite, their Widowmaker IPA is top notch. With loads of juicy citrus fruit notes, a perfectly balanced bitterness, and a beautiful cloudy appearance, this IPA was a wicked way to start off our night.
After a quick pit stop at Cob’s bread for some delicious baked goods, we hurried over to Dageraad Brewing. I have a soft spot in my heart for Dageraad as I grew up in North Burnaby. It doesn’t hurt that they’re pumping out consistently wicked beer.
Dageraad’s Sri Lanka is another winner from the Burnaby team. A Belgian-style dubbel brewed with a variety of special ingredients, including tamarind and Sri Lankan Kithul Treacle (a palm extract used for sweetening). By introducing Belgian yeast and Czech hops, this cosmopolitan brew delivers a set of full bodied, sweet and tangy, herbal, other-worldly flavours.
While sipping on the Sri Lanka, something caught the corner of my eye. It was Dageraad’s delicious mainstay, Burnabarian, in its fancy new clothes –a tall can!
As we glanced around the room, our eyes landed on a flash of yellow. We approached the table like moths to a light and were pleased to see that we were headed for Strange Fellows. The yellow colour was a beautifully branded (as always) t-shirt with an illustration of the Tigertail Saison logo. Of course, this was the beer we had to try! Tigertail is an easy-drinking saison, perfect for the warming temperatures that Spring will (hopefully) bring. Brewed with sweet orange peel, star anise and lemongrass, this saison paired botanical complexity with a dry finish. A perfect match to a weekend afternoon in the sun or a spicy meal.
Onwards to Luppolo!
Hazy Pale Ale
We were greeted with a smile by Luppolo brewer, Tristan, who poured us two of their offerings; the Hazy Pale Ale for Brooke and a Dessert Sour for me.
The Hazy Pale Ale, as its name suggests, had a nice opacity with a bright orange colour. Flavours of citrus, apple and sage graced my taste buds on the way down. A perfect balance of bitterness makes this hazy pale a refreshing choice for any beer drinking occasion.
Whoa…that’s a tangy sour! A light but lip-puckering sour beer that packs in some delicious apple and grape notes.
As we exited the upstairs tasting hall we stop by the silent auction to place a couple of bids on some great swag provided by the breweries and other sponsors. still another floor to explore!
We headed downstairs and were greeted by another large space full of beer tasting. Around the first bend was an awesome new addition to the event: the Cask Corner. Small experimental casks from several breweries were lined up and ready to be sampled. As we approached the Cask Corner, someone hammered a spigot into an unmarked cask. We knew this was something to get excited about!
Strathcona Beer Company
Get Down On It IPA with Peach
One of my favourites from the event, this beer came pouring out of the spout like a milky, hazy, chocolate-oatmeal-witch’s potion that may have pushed a few away, but only drew me in closer.
A full-bodied beer with milkshake-like characters, tropical fruit notes, a medium level of bitterness, and an earthy yet fruity nose won me over. I re-visited this cask a few more times before the night was over.
Parklife Passion Fruit Ale (with Mango and Coconut)
The next cask was Bomber’s tweak on their solid Park Life Passion Fruit Ale. This time with added mango and coconut. Passion fruit flavours mixed with the juiciest mango and a coconut finish. A great flavour trio for a super refreshing and juicy beer.
Howe Sound Brewing
Diamond Head Stout With Sour Cherries
For all the cherry lovers out there, this is your beer. It features flavours of cherries and an earthy aroma. This stout feels light on the pallet and is easy-drinking with a smooth finish.
We then visited our friends from Andina for a final taste before the event winded down.
Mapalé Milk Stout
I opted for a taster of Andina’s delicious Mapalé Milk Stout. Oh man, this beer is a beauty! It sported a deep, dark colour with aromas of coffee and chocolate, the flavour of a delicious milkshake, and a semi-dry finish. Comforting like a glass of warm milk before bed, this was a great way to end our night.
We made a quick stop at the pretzel stand to grab one (or maybe five) pretzels for the road and hopped into the shuttle to take us back down the hill.
DAY 2 RECAP – CASEY & ERIN
This year’s Coquitlam Craft Beer Festival happened to land on the first beautiful weekend in 2018. Spirits were high upon arrival due to the beautiful weather, the amazing lineup of BC craft beer and local food, and the picturesque West Coast setting at the Westwood Plateau Golf and Country Club.
We were greeted at the venue by members of ‘Team Taylor’ from the Ride to Conquer Cancer. They were impossible to miss in their bright bike jerseys and even brighter smiles and attitudes as ambassadors for the amazing charity that this beer festival was supporting. After receiving beer glasses and plates for food, we were let loose into the grand clubhouse that spanned three separate rooms over two stories.
Oumuamua Milk Stout
For being a ‘milk stout’ I expected this beer to be cloyingly sweet, and I was happily surprised to be wrong. It had a perfect balance between notes of roast, toast, and creamy sweet. A very well rounded beer that I’m excited to revisit soon in Driftwood’s signature bomber!
With so many hazy IPAs, imperial stouts, and aged sours around lately, it was literally refreshing to try Mariner Brewing’s Berliner Weisse. A great example of this classic German style, this low ABV crusher was lightly tart, with bready notes in the background, and a clean finish!
Strathcona Beer Company
Clover All Over
I was lucky enough to have my Clover All Over Stout poured by the head brewer, Michael “Fezz” Nazarec, from Strathcona. He told me all about this beautiful dry Irish stout which included the addition of Sassparilla root. This classic root beer ingredient added hints of tasty soda alongside a well crafted stout. It was a treat to have a couple weeks ahead of St. Patrick’s Day!
After running the gamut of styles in my tasting glass, i was pleased to try two craft lager offerings that are each set to blow up in popularity as our industry’s palates grow tired of the hazy IPAs, strong ales, and sours of the past year.
Chris recently had the opportunity to sample and write about a few beers from Collective Arts, who’ve recently expanded to the BC market. Since reading his take, I’ve been seeking Collective Arts out to try, and was happy to see them at this festival! Among others, I tried the Gose and was very impressed. Tartness gave way to a refreshing body and finish featuring salt as we’ve come to expect from this historic style.
Strange Fellows never ceases to amaze with their limited releases, and their Tigertail Saison follows suit. This saison brings more character to the table than I’ve tasted elsewhere in the style recently. Brewed with orange peel, lemongrass, star anise, and a classic Belgian yeast, this beer was the first at the festival I went back for seconds of!
While crushing, I was pleased to find out that Coal Harbour’s award winning Helles lager was available in 8-packs in their wickedly redesigned new cans! This malty lager was crisp and balanced. Coal Harbour is definitely impressing me lately
New to Bomber Brewing’s lineup is their Skyline Lager in tall cans. This Helles was clean and beautiful. This is definitely a beer that I can’t wait to take to the beach or park!
Bomber Brewing also produced my favorite cask of the event, coming out of the new Cask Corner at the Coquitlam Beer Fest. Among other great and interesting offerings, including a 100% wheat beer, heavily cask hopped IPA’s, and a sour cherry stout, Bomber took the cake by taking their juicy Park Life Passionfruit Ale and adding mango and coconut to the cask! It was absolutely delicious, as Luke also mentioned above.
A big thanks to all of the vendors and event organizers for putting on such a great event. The Coquitlam Craft Beer Festival was a blast, and we’re already looking forward to their fall rendition of the event which land on November 2 & 3. Keep your eyes peeled to their website for tickets, available this summer for purchase.
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