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Victoria Beer Society delights patrons with back-to-back weekend events

In-person tastings invited locals to try a range of lager and fresh-hopped beers
An assortment of fresh-hopped beers were on tap at the Fresh to Death event hosted by the Victoria Beer Society last weekend in the city’s brewery district. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)

A pitcher-perfect slate of beer celebrations delighted Victoria residents last weekend.

The back-to-back events staged by the Victoria Beer Society Oct. 8 and 9 marked a triumphant, if not altered, return to in-person tastings after the pandemic put them on hold. Saturday saw Lager than Life take over the 600 block of David Street, and the sold-out Fresh to Death event followed in the same spot Sunday.

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Patrons gathered outside each night under a white tent, chatting and sipping a wide variety of beers. Tasty bites were even available from food vendors Bird & Basket, Dumpling Drop and MaiiZ Nixtamal. The weekend’s atmosphere felt lively, or, as Victoria Beer Society executive director Ryan Malcolm described it, like “block party vibes.”

Black Press Media spoke with Malcolm during Saturday’s Lager than Life event, which celebrated the best of the popular cold–fermented beer.

While the society’s events have typically been hosted inside, Malcolm said holding new gatherings outdoors in the city’s unofficial brewery district in the Rock Bay neighbourhood makes sense under current restrictions.

“It’s very fitting to host beer events where the beer is made,” he said, gesturing in the general direction of nearby craft brewers like Hoyne, Driftwood and Moon Under Water.

He added patrons didn’t bat an eye at the event’s slightly chilly outdoor setting – or its proof of vaccine requirements – and breweries were equally thrilled to participate.

“Our vendors have been so supportive and excited to see beer festivals come back,” Malcolm said.

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The second night of festivities saw vendors present hoppy beer at the Fresh to Death event, which included a VIP guided tasting led by certified cicerone Rob Mangelsdorf.

Those attending the tasting were treated to fresh-hopped beer, a largely unknown and misunderstood kind of brew. This type of beer, Mangelsdorf explained to a couple dozen enthusiasts, relies on hops collected within 24 hours of the brew’s creation.

He had attendees roll the small artichoke-like hops between their fingers and smell the fine yellow powder, or lupulin, inside. Asked what it smelled like, people called out “mint,” “cheese,” “garlic” and “cayenne.”

It’s the lupulin, Mangelsdorf said, that gives fresh-hopped beers such fresh flavours and a distinct tingling sensation on the tongue. Armed with their new knowledge, the VIP attendees sipped four of these special creations before enjoying the rest of the event.

Event coordinator Rebecca Craig said this week that attendees and vendors alike thoroughly enjoyed the revival of in-person events.

“It was very special to see everyone having such a great time and enjoying the awesome selection of beer we had,” she wrote in an email.

Holding the events outside also let organizers test how future programming could run. The Victoria Beer Society is already planning for next year, with Victoria Beer Week and the Great Canadian Beer Festival set to return.

You can learn more about the society and its events at

with files from Jane Skrypnek

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The Victoria Beer Society’s Lager than Life and Fresh to Death marked the return of popular beer-tasting events to the city. (Courtesy of Victoria Beer Society)