Chemainus beer festival debut selling fast

Chemainus will be home to the Cowichan Valley’s first ever festival focusing strictly on craft beer.

Craft beer lovers, take note.

Chemainus will be home to the Cowichan Valley’s first ever festival focusing strictly on craft beer.

Dubbed The Craft Beer & Food Festival, the event will take place in Waterwheel Park on Aug. 6 from noon to 4 p.m.

There are already events in the Valley where beer is included along with other products, but none in the area that focus just on beer, noted Krystal Adams, the event organizer and marketing coordinator for the Chemainus Business Improvement Association.

“We took a look at what the town was doing and what the Cowichan Valley is doing, and we wanted to do something different,” Adams said. “We took it to the board and they loved it and here we are.”

Organizers hand-picked the participating breweries, calling on some of the best from across Vancouver Island and beyond. A total of 18 breweries are participating, and between 55 and 60 beers will be offered.

Participating breweries will include Duncan’s own Red Arrow Brewing Company and Chemainus’s Riot Brewing — who may or may not have any product ready for the festival — as well as Longwood, White Sails and Wolf from Nanaimo, and Spinnakers, Moon, Axe & Barrel, Driftwood and Swans from Victoria. Bomber, Howe Sound, Fernie, Powell Street and Parallel 49 are among the off-Island breweries that will attend.

There will also be plenty of food to go with the beer. Several local vendors will be on hand, although the precise menu has yet to be confirmed. There will be “a little bit of everything,” Adams said, mostly pub-style food.

“It will be very good, either way,” she said.

The response from the beer-drinking public has been “amazing,” Adams said. Tickets were going so quickly, in fact, that they had to end the $19 pre-sale deal early. As of last week, there were about 100 tickets left at $25 apiece. Tickets include entry to the beer festival, six tasting tokens and a keepsake glass (while supplies last), as well as entry into the Velvet Rut music festival, also in Waterwheel Park on Aug. 6. Additional tasting tokens are $2 apiece. All ticket-holders will be entered into a draw for an iPad. For more information, visit craftbeerandfoodfest.com

Aly Tomlin of Riot Brewing, which is scheduled to open in Chemainus later this summer, is thrilled by the response to the festival.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” she said. “It’s shown that the demand for craft beer and events like this is high in the Cowichan Valley.”

Adams hopes that this is just the first of many annual beer festivals in Chemainus.

“Our intention is that we don’t want to be a small, local event,” she said. “We want to grow it year after year. You have to walk before you can run, and this is us walking.”