A New Beer Society in Town

Victoria Beer Week launched its sixth annual festival earlier this month, which ran from March 1-9. In addition to the festival returning for another year, the Victoria Beer Week team had exciting news. At a media launch event held in Spinnakers Pub, Victoria Beer Week Director Joe Wiebe announced that the Victoria Beer Week is re-branding as the Victoria Beer Society, as well as merging with the Great Canadian Beer Festival. In addition to providing year-round events, beer education opportunities, and pop-ups, the newly formed society includes an expanded membership program and will be running the Great Canadian Beer Festival held in summer.

John Rowling and Gerry Hieter co-founded the Great Canadian Beer Festival back in the early 90s. Now thinking about retirement, they approached Wiebe last fall to talk about handing over the reins of their festival. “They’ve been talking about it internally for a year or two,” says Wiebe, “but they didn’t know how to handle their retirement. They saw in us an opportunity for someone to take it over.” After their fifth year, Wiebe and his team had been planning to expand to year-round events regardless. “Whenever you reach a milestone [of five years], you step back and think, ‘what have we accomplished? What do we want to do better,'” says Weibe.

With a focus on beer education and increased events, the newfound Victoria Beer Society’s membership program will include discounts to regular happenings and exclusive member-only events. “We wanted to expand our footprint and achieve a bigger profile as a year-round entity,” says Wiebe. “The Victoria Beer Society reflects that.”

In addition to their big reveal, Wieb was also excited about new events that were happening at Beer Week. The festival returned this year with an ambitious schedule of 21 events over nine days. More than 100 different beers from 50 breweries across BC participated this year, with old favourite events—such as All About the Wood, Pucker Up, and Taco Tuesday—as well as some new and exciting happenings.

This year, the event, Drink your Hops and Eat ‘Em Too, allowed participants to explore more than just the liquid side of hops. “It’s a real experimental idea,” says Wiebe. “It’s a bit of a risk, but the chefs at the Victoria Public Market have really embraced the idea and worked hard to come up with unique dishes that incorporate hops into their cooking and recipes.” A selection of hoppy beer was paired with food samples from Indecent Risotto, The Very Good Butchers, Roast Meat & Sandwich Shop, and many more.

Additionally, Victoria Beer Week partnered up with Jones Bar-B-Que to present Jones Beer-B-Que. The outdoor, family-friendly event paired delicious barbecue with craft beers—so what’s not to love?

All Photos by Adrian Paradis

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