Canoe Brewpub’s Eighth Annual Winterbrau Festival 2019

Beer brewers from across the island and the lower mainland gathered in the lofty wooden halls of Canoe Brewpub over November 9 and 10 for the eighth annual Winterbrau festival. Brewers brought their darkest wintery brews for this sold-out, epic two-day event.

“We saw a void in the market,” says Kyle York, Brewmaster at Canoe Brewpub. “Realizing that there were plenty of beer festivals during the summer, Canoe wanted to offer a similar experience in the colder months of the year. We have this great venue, and we’re a little quieter once the summer winds down, so we were excited to invite people in and see the space.”

This year, the event was held over two days with a different lineup of breweries filling the space each day. “We were able to facilitate double the amount of breweries by holding the event over two days like this,” says York. Almost 30 breweries in all were in attendance, spanning Vancouver Island and the lower mainland. Brewers came to show off their most wintery drafts — dark stouts, strong imperial ales, and even a pumpkin spice blond ale from Russell Brewing Co.

The food was inspired by German street food according to Chris Willis, General Manager at Canoe. Throughout the festival, the Canoe kitchen produced a steady stream of the small bites that were circulated throughout the venue. “Our food program over the past year has really shifted,” says Willis. “We’re very locally focused now. We source a lot of our food from local farms instead of somewhere like GFS or Sysco.”

On the menu were crispy pork schnitzel bites with brown butter, caper and lemon; curry-wurst pork sausages; spatzle (small noodle-like dumplings) with pearl onions, bacon and mustard; konigsberger klopse (veal meatballs) with lemon in a caper cream sauce; and obatzda (soft, warm potato bread with melted cambozola cheese).


“We normally pair our food with our beer, so we’re excited to invite breweries from across Vancouver Island and the mainland to celebrate for a couple of days,” says Willis.

While the ample amounts of beer and food warmed and satisfied the body, local band Bučan Bučan played both days of the festival to warm the spirit. Self-described as a Balkan brass marching band, the high energy and oom-pah-pah sound kept the event lively and upbeat up until the end.

Asking about the future of the event, York says he can’t see them stopping it as they have sold out nearly every year since its inception. “I wouldn’t even mind doing a spring festival as well, with a different theme,” says York. “The venue works so well, and there still aren’t that many beer festivals in the spring.”

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