By Tim Collins
While, to the uninitiated, it may sound like seven days of bacchanalian excess, Victoria Beer Week is actually a nine-day series of events designed to celebrate the broad range of B.C. craft breweries.
According to Joe Wiebe, the co-founder and co-producer of the event, craft beer production is a phenomenon that just keeps growing.
“When I first started writing about craft beers in 2012 there were about 50 craft brewers in B.C.,” said Wiebe. “In the past four years that number has more than doubled.”
Wiebe said he started Beer Week to celebrate the wide variety of beers that are now available in B.C. and to expose people who haven’t had much experience with craft beers to an exciting range of products that are now available.
“We aim to educate and create a host of ‘beer ambassadors’ for the industry. There’s something for everyone,” said Wiebe.
Beer Week is a series of events spread around Victoria. They have names like like ‘Beer School’ (a primer for up and coming brewers), ‘Pucker Up’ (a celebration of ‘sour beers’), and ‘The Definitive Victoria Brewery Crawl’ (a self explanatory event). In total there are a wide range of events that are designed to appeal to both seasoned ‘beer geeks’ and craft beer newcomers alike.
“There’s also an educational component to the event,” said Wiebe. “We have sessions on the history of brewing on the Island and some of the interesting characters who, in the past, have been involved in the industry.”
One example of a modern day ‘character’ is Michael Kuzyk, a home brewer for 20 years who left a career as a scientist to pursue a career as the founder of Category 12 Brewers. “He’s our mad scientist,” said Wiebe. “And he’ll be sharing some of that unique approach to brewing with others during a fun and informative event.”
And in case you still think Beer Week is only about imbibing in tasty beverages, Wiebe is quick to emphasize that the event is very closely tied to the full range of food that is available on the island.
“We’ve got events that couple beer with everything from local cheeses to pizza to seafood,” said Wiebe. “The idea is to increase business for all facets of the B.C. craft beer industry, including not only breweries and home brew supply stores but also a whole range of pubs and restaurants where those brews can be enjoyed in conjunction with some really fantastic food.
Beer Week runs March 4 to 12. For more information visit victoriabeerweek.com.