Something pretty special happens when around a thousand of Vancouver’s most committed lovers of wild ales brave the rain and gather to share some of the best and rarest beer available in the province.
The second instalment of Farmhouse Fest took place on June 18th out at UBC Farm, and with ample wellington boots and rain coats in evidence, the shared experience of drinking amazing beer under a heavy sky managed to foster a real sense of togetherness and some pretty high spirits there amongst the apple trees and hop vines. (The fact that the event was held in the type of pastoral setting that can temporarily make you forget you’re just a short Car2go ride from home was also pretty amazing).
Driven by the same kind of passion that propels so many in our local craft beer industry to create the kind of brewery they think our fair city needs and deserves, the good people behind Farmhouse Fest managed to once again put on a unique, meticulously curated celebration of good beer that, in my humble opinion, is unrivalled in Canada. There was food by Tacofino White Lightning, Via Tevere, and Pressure Box, plus a three-piece folk outfit performing on a couple hay barrels under one of several spacious tents. And then, of course, there was all that phenomenal beer.
Select local breweries provided a handful of on-style offerings (many brewed specifically for the event), and having a Strange Fellows Reynard or a Brassneck Raspberry Changeling alongside rarer finds offered by import agencies like Copper & Theory, Beerthirst and UnTapped was outstanding, really highlighting how far our local brewing scene has come in recent years. Personal top picks included the legendary Geuze by Brussels Brasserie Cantillon – a gorgeous, spontaneously-fermented beer created by blending differently aged Lambics that go through a second fermentation in the bottle, and three phenomenal Belgian-style ales from la belle province: ‘Dulcis Succubus’, a barrel-aged wild ale from Shawnigan’s Trou De Diable; ‘Sanctuaire Brett’, a red wine barrel-aged brett trippel from Regaud’s Microbrasserie Le Castor; and ‘Assemblage No. 6’, a barrel-aged blended Raspberry/Cherry ale from Dunham’s Brasserie Dunham.
There are undoubtedly bigger beer festivals in BC that can offer more styles and feature more breweries, but to compare them to Farmhouse Fest is to miss the point. As a firm believer that good beer can be as complex and rewarding as the best Bordeaux and Islay Malt (rather than something to just ‘crush’; or ‘put back’), Farmhouse Fest is my kind of beer festival. Don’t get me wrong, enjoying the carnival atmosphere at one of BC’s bigger beer fests with a group of friends can be pretty awesome, but sampling rare Belgian Lambics (in proper glassware, I might add) that would set you back $30+ a bottle in a spacious, natural setting is a whole other story.
Hat tip to Jonathan Evans for the awesome event photos!