Cheers to beers at festival

Dustin Godfrey

Sample-sized cups of craft beer permeated a convention centre brimming with merry crowds Friday evening, which can only mean one thing.

Fest of Ale has hit the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre once again, and organizer Martin Lewis says Friday night was as busy as ever.

“We increased the number of breweries, we made the main stage a little smaller, we’ve got busker stations in more places,” Lewis said. “We have more cideries this year. It’s just a bigger and better festival overall.”

In its 22nd year Lewis says Fest of Ale is the second oldest beer festival in Canada.

“Only Victoria’s a year ahead of us,” he said. “So, we were early adopters of the craft beer movement, and we’ve seen it go from about 16 breweries to, now, 65 with a waiting list, so it’s crazy.”

While it’s known for its wine, Lewis says Penticton has been a pioneer of craft beer in the province.

“The big guys were kind of dabbling in craft beer, and there was really a small community, but Penticton had two craft breweries at the time, and so we were way ahead of the curve,” he said. “Now Vancouver’s surpassed us, and you know, they’re going crazy, but we have five craft breweries in Penticton.”

That, he says, is pretty good for a city the size of Penticton.

The festival is set to continue at the convention centre on Saturday.

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