Brew fest back with wine and spirits

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The countdown is on for the second annual Olds Beer Festival, which will not only be serving up local brew samples, but will also feature wines and spirits at this year’s edition.

Vendors, volunteers and representatives of presenting sponsor Boston Pizza were on hand at a media launch last Monday (April 24), exactly 60 days out from the rural craft beer festival, which will take place on June 24 at the Cow Palace.

The Olds College Brewery has partnered as a featured vendor, also developing a custom label for its popular Hay City beer. In addition, Coulee Brew from Lethbridge, King of Springs Brewery out of Didsbury, and Calgary’s iconic Wild Rose Brewery have committed to the event.

David Claveau, manager of the Olds College Brewery, will be manning its booth this year, along with the brewmaster and students. He said they will offer three or four beers, and while they typically pour one of their more popular beers like the Hay City, they also try to offer rarer or unusual brews.

ìIt’s a good opportunity for us to give the opportunity for people to try different stuff,î he said, noting that they want to help people discover different types beer, and figure out what they like.

Claveau said the beer fest is a good occasion for a brewery to introduce new products, as well as to give students hands-on experience in bringing their products to market, from developing their recipe and brewing it, to labelling and connecting with consumers.

ìIt’s becoming a really great project for them to understand the whole process,î said Claveau.

Tracy Gardner, events manager for the Olds Regional Exhibition, is heading up the organizing committee. She said she is hoping for as many as 10 vendors to display their wares at the brew fest.

Not all, however, will be bringing brewskys ñ this year, the festival will also be featuring local wines and spirits, including mead from Fallentimber Meadery in Water Valley and vodka from Innisfail’s Stone Heart Distillery.

ìSpirits was obviously a really great fit, knowing that there’s great entrepreneurs in our area doing great things,î said Gardner.

Stone Heart’s owner Ian Scott, who farms west of Innisfail, will be offering samples of his ìseed-to-sipî of vodka, the first batch ever, made from last year’s wheat harvest.

ìI plant it, I harvest it, I roll the grain, I mash it, I ferment it,î he said of his one-man operation, which produces about 750 bottles a month.

After hitting up the Red Deer County Food and Spirits festival on Thursday, April 20, he said he’s learned that people want to hear his product’s story.

ìPeople want to see local stuff,î he said, ìbecause following the trail of money, when you buy a bottle of absolute or Smirnoff or whatever, the money is not staying in Alberta, it’s not staying in Canada.î

ìSo it’s a beautiful thing to, you know, keep it at home.î

The one-day Olds Beer Festival will take place at the Cow Palace on June 24. More information will be available on social media, both on twitter and Facebook. Follow them at @OldsBeerFest.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to give the opportunity for people to try different stuff.”DAVID CLAVEAUMANAGER OLDS COLLEGE BREWERY

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