This year’s Vancouver Craft Beer Week aims to artfully mix culture and brews.

Vancouver Craft Beer Week 2017 begins May 26 and promises a raft events around the city over 10 days. Now in its eighth year, the festival is rising to the challenge faced by any annual event: to remain fresh and relevant.

“What we’re trying to build is the festival that we actually want to go to,” says VCBW events director Leah Heneghan.

“Craft beer can be intimidating, so we wanted to create events that were accessible to both beer nerds and beer newbies.”

Vancouver Craft Beer Week Festival Crowd
Last year’s festival at the PNE fairgrounds.

Events pair beer with food, music and art

Just looking at the schedule makes it apparent that Heneghan and her fellow organizers have succeeded in their goal.

With events showcasing everything from fruit beers to mural painting, as well as the grand outdoor festival finale at the PNE, there’s something for everyone regardless of the extent of their knowledge of craft beer.

Trusty events returning again this year include the Biercraft Belgian Showcase and the Rose City Rampage, which brings Portland’s A-game breweries to Vancouver. New events include a crawfish boil and whole hog cookout paired with hazy IPAs, a Brewers Row block party featuring the four neighbourly breweries of Port Moody, and a mixer with the Vancouver Mural Festival.

Vancouver Craft Beer Week Woman in Sprinkler
Photo courtesy of Vancouver Craft Beer Week

“Food, beer, and music all go well together, so this year we wanted to include art in the mix,” Heneghan says about this year’s schedule.

“This year we partnered with the Vancouver Mural Festival for a splash of colour.”

Expect to find live mural painting and the opportunity for guests to participate in some live art events.

Vancouver Craft Beer Week Band On Stage
Photo courtesy of Vancouver Craft Beer Week

The evolution of VCBW

The growth of the festival in many ways mirrors the growth of craft beer in BC.

The first VCBW event drew 100 people to the Heritage Hall in 2010.  Compare that to 2016, when more than 19,000 people attended events throughout the week.

The end-of-week festival at the Pacific National Exhibition fairgrounds is now the largest craft beer festival in Western Canada. More than 100 breweries and cideries are expected to be pouring on June 3-4 this year.

Vancouver Craft Beer Week Group Selfie
Photo courtesy of Vancouver Craft Beer Week

Growing craft by growing craft’s audience

Another of VCBW’s goals is to increase craft beer’s visibility, particularly at a local level.

By getting more people interested and aware of what is produced in Vancouver and BC, VCBW is hoping to increase the audience for local beer.

“We really want to get everyone to drink craft beer,” Heneghan says, who adds that it’s a great scene to be part of. Even newbies find a common understanding and shared vocabulary.

“There’s an instant sense of community,” Leah says, “Everyone can talk about beer and be happy about it, regardless of their level of knowledge.”

Vancouver Craft Beer Week Pinball Tournament
Photo courtesy of Vancouver Craft Beer Week

“What is great is that people now feel they can get great beer locally,” Heneghan adds.

“We recognize that we’ve got excellent products right here in Vancouver, people don’t need to go across the border to get good beer.”

The push toward buying local and knowing who produces your food and drink has definitely helped shape and grow the brewing industry in the city.

Vancouver Craft Beer Week Festival Glass Close-up

Check out the full list of events online and join other craft beer enthusiasts who will be enjoying the colourful canvas of Vancouver’s beer scene.

Also, make sure to check out the BC Ale Trail booth at the VCBW festival June 3-4.

Vancouver Craft Beer Week Banner

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