Vancouver Craft Beer Week is all-inclusive imbibing

By Kristi Alexandra

There’s a myth swirling around that the Vancouver craft beer scene is bro dominated. It’s one that should be crushed as quickly as an empty can of Kokanee on a frat boy’s forehead – and if Vancouver Craft Beer Week has anything to show, it’s that there’s a bevy of different people enjoying all that the week-long fete has to offer.

This year’s nine-day festival kicked off on May 26, tapping into some craft draft care of several Vancouver-based (and just beyond) breweries, hosted by local eateries around the city. Now in its eighth year, VCBW has a little bit of everything and a little something for everyone, evidenced by its first-ever Brewer’s Row Block Party in Port Moody to its Forbidden Fruit event on the outskirts of Gastown at Devil’s Elbow.

As a seasoned wine-drinker, I was partial to the latter. By nature, I’m more inclined to grab a glass of the grape than a pint of brew – but VCBW had me hooked on the 2017 Forbidden Fruit tap list including Howe’s Sound’s Jam Session Raspberry Cream Ale and Parkside’s Fuzzy Wuzzy Peach IPA.

“The Forbidden Fruit event, for me, that’s a big cross-over event for a lot of people. If you don’t think you like beer, this is for you,” says co-founder and events director Leah Heneghan.

“[Last year], we [started] celebrating fruit and sour beers, which in the beginning there wasn’t really a scene here that could support that.”

Heneghan, the only female of four key directors of VCBW, contends that craft beer isn’t all about the bros, either – so don’t expect a Zac Efron-style beer-crushing montage a la Neighbours to take place at any of the events.

“In the beginning, we used to have an event called ‘Women in Beer’ because we were trying to reach out to women in the beer industry, and trying to get more women drinking beer, but now it doesn’t seem required,” she says. “We decided we don’t need an event like that because there’s so many women that are into craft beer and so many women who are working in the industry now, so I don’t see it as a bro scene at all. I see it as this incredible growth of the female population at our events and who are into beer.”

By my own unscientific observations, the ratio of men to women seemed to be equal at the Forbidden Fruit event, as is the case anytime I step into my local watering hole.

“I think big beer is more male dominated, but small beer is something that definitely speaks to a female palate in a lot of ways,” Heneghan says.

Vancouver Craft Beer Week Festival takes place at the PNE Fairgrounds on Saturday, June 3 and Sunday, June 4 from 1 to 6 p.m. In addition to the biggest selection of craft beer and cider in one place, the VCBW Festival also features art installations, live music, deejays, food trucks, market stalls, brewing demonstrations, and a games area with pinball and foos ball, a pop up barber shop and more! $39.99 gets you two drink tokens and a 4oz souvenir taster mug – more beer can be purchased at $1.50 a pop. 

Kristi Alexandra is an unabashed wino and wannabe musician. Her talents include drinking an entire bottle of cabernet sauvignon, singing in the bathtub, and falling asleep.