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Jun 2

Quick to start and quick to grow: Edmonton’s 2015 craft beer festival booms with interest

Posted on Jun 2 By: Cullen Bird

The Edmonton Craft Beer Festival has a problem. There’s a waiting list of vendors and the existing 110,000 square feet booked at the Edmonton Expo Centre isn’t enough to accommodate them.

Alberta Beer Festivals (ABF) president Bill Robinson is looking for an additional 58,000 square feet to fit the late vendors in.

It’s a problem, but a great problem to have, Robinson said.

The Edmonton Craft Beer Festival started in 2013, after popular demand for a beer festival in the province’s capital became clear.

“We had a demand from both the beer community and the brewers themselves saying ‘we want to be represented in the other huge market in Alberta, can we do one there?’” Robinson said.

Festival attendees can sample more than 400 different beers from across Canada and around the world, as well as 20 local restaurants’ best finger foods.

Edmonton’s two-day beer festival starts Friday, June 5. It’s half the size of the Calgary International Beer Festival, but is quickly making up the difference.

“It’s taken us 10 or 11 years to get to this point in Calgary, but in Edmonton, three years and we’re bursting at the seams already,” said Trevor Bacon, ABF communications director.

Like Calgary, new this year will be “Beer University” where participants can go through a series of booths explaining the beer-making process from grain to glass, and come out with a ‘Masters of Beer Appreciation.’

Other event features include two live music stages and the ‘Brewmaster’ and ‘Cooking with Beer’ seminars. ABF is currently working to bring in local artists and performers to supplement this, Bacon said.

The early success of the Edmonton Craft Beer Festival has grown out of the foundation laid by the Calgary International Beer Festival.

“When we started it was just my buddy Mark (Kondrat) and I, and a small group of very dedicated volunteers,” Robinson said.

Robinson and Kondrat were then the operators of Get A Life Events. Now, 10 years later, all kinds of beer drinkers come out to the Calgary beer festival, Bacon said.

The Edmonton show hasn’t yet reached that point, but may do so soon. “I think the difference between Calgary and Edmonton is we probably have more of the beer geeks coming out in the Edmonton show,” Bacon said.

“We’re still trying to get that atmosphere and increase everyone’s beer knowledge of the great local brews we have in Alberta.”

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