Phil Atkinson (from left), Gerry Hieter, Claudia McNeil and John Rowling were among the longtime Great Canadian Beer Festival board members whose retirement from the event led to the request for Victoria Beer Week Society to take over management of the 26-year-old Beer Fest. Contributed photo

New organization to host Great Canadian Beer Festival starting in 2019

Longtime beer festival board pours their last pint, hands reins to Victoria Beer Week Society

Two of Greater Victoria’s biggest promoters of craft beer are joining forces.

On Tuesday the Victoria Beer Week Society announced it is taking over management of the Great Canadian Beer Festival in 2019 and for the foreseeable future, while the non-profit that operates the Beer Fest in September will dissolve.

The move was prompted by the retirement, following this year’s 26th annual Great Canadian Beer Festival of society directors Gerry Hieter, Phil Atkinson, Claudia McNeil, John Rowling and Petra Trafford. They formally asked if the non-profit society that operates Beer Week in March would take the event on.

“Over the past five years, Glen Stusek, Ryan Malcolm, Joe Wiebe, Chris Nohr and the many alumni of the Victoria Beer Week Society have demonstrated a commitment to craft beer and a quality in their events that we believe will reflect the values of the Great Canadian Beer Festival,” Hieter, one of its co-founders, said in a release. “Under their stewardship, we look forward to enjoying future [festivals] and having a beer with you all on the field.”

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The Great Canadian Beer Festival dates back to 1993 and since 2003 has been held at Royal Athletic Park the second weekend of September. It sees breweries and cideries from B.C. and elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest showcase their products over a two-day festival.

Wiebe said the Beer Week Society board was pleasantly surprised by the offer to manage and operate the longstanding festival.

“We are honoured to be given this opportunity to sustain and build upon the legacy created by Gerry Hieter, John Rowling and the other key organizers of GCBF,” he said, speaking for the society. “We are very excited about what the future holds.”

The two festivals have different formats. Beer Week, the sixth edition of which happens March 1 to 9, hosts craft beer-related events at various venues around the region.

The coming weeks and months will see members of the Victoria Beer Week Society work with the Beer Fest team to ensure a smooth transition and planning heading into the fall 2019 edition of the festival.

editor@mondaymag.com

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