Christmas Craft Beer Show 2017 Review

Note: Going through my records, I noticed a glaring omission from my event reviews, and have decided to correct it, and remind people of what they can look forward to in 2018.

The first edition of the Christmas Craft Beer Show was an excellent first attempt, but as I’ve stated, there was room to grow. Certain things could be improved, certain tweaks could be put in place, and this was a common theme across much of the press and discussion for the event.

Well, after attending the 2nd Annual event, it’s clear that they listened to those criticisms and it made for an event that was significantly improved over the 1st year. With that being said, what did the event look like, and why was it so much better?

Layout:

This might have been the biggest improvement. By moving the stage to just off-center in the middle of the floor, and providing seating directly in front of it, there was much better flow to the space. It allowed enough room for dancing, created more space to relax that wasn’t forced out onto the concourse, and spread the beer lines out over the entire floor. The corners can still get a little tight, but there was plenty of elbow room compared to Year 1.

Beers:

The beer list was definitely a better mix of approachable core beers as well as big limited release options and one-off options. Compared to 2016, this was nice in allowing people to not get over-indulgent in their beer choices, but still enticed many of the beer geeks with some of the more sought-after beers.

The list could have been made publicly available a little earlier, an issue which was still not addressed from the first year, although they were much more open with media regarding the list, allowing some awareness of what to expect. It’s always going to be a balance of creating mystique and trying to draw in guests with the beer list.

Some of the real standouts were relatively unknown breweries to Island guests, such as Britannia Brewing, Faculty Brewing, and Smuggler’s Trail Caskworks. Then there were the usual greats, like Driftwood Brewing bringing their Singularity and Old Cellar Dweller, and newcomers like Sooke Brewing, who had only just opened a little over a month before the event, yet poured a delightful IPA.

Ambiance:

This year, even more so than last, there were plenty of festive sweaters, scarves, hats and more. This just makes it so much more fun, as it just adds to the character of the festival. Between that and the amazing musical vibes from SuperSauce, it really makes it for what has become one of my favourite events of the year, and based on the smiles on people’s faces throughout the event, I’m not alone in that sentiment.

Overall:

With the stress of the holiday season bearing down on us, the timing is right, the mood is great, and it’s a nice little distraction to be able to spend an afternoon or evening with friends enjoying great beer and cider. Compared to 2016, 2017 was out of the park, and while there’s always going to be a little room for improvement, it’s definitely trending upwards, so I can only look forward to 2018.

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Thoughts, comments, new beer to try? Let me know.

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