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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26

Hop To This ‘Fest!

Nathan Raine
Published Thursday August 20, 06:16 pm
A bunch of beers, music and food, all outdoors in a park. ‘Nuff said!


Aug. 28-29

Rotary Park

Just a handful of years ago, drinking a different Saskatchewan-made beer from the one you were used to meant an audacious change-up from a Great Western Light to a Great Western Pil. Now clearly, there’s nothing wrong with G-Dub — but these days, there’s a lot more to Saskie beer. With seven (and counting) microbreweries in Saskatchewan, all producing their unique takes on craft beer, there's suddenly plenty of choice when you want to try something new and interesting.

For local beer lovers, these are exciting developments — so what better time to host a Saskatoon beer festival? Damn straight, and one’s happening very soon.

On Aug. 28th and 29th, Saskatoon will be treated to a congregation of some of the finest local beers from these lands (and a few faraway ones as well) at the inaugural YXE Beer Fest.

The event's organizer, Lindsay Ogresko of Congress Beer House, says that the idea came from realizing that, in contrast to many bigger cities in North America, Saskatoon lacks an event that really promotes and celebrates its local craft beers.

“The idea to do this came from seeing other beer fests. I went to one in Ontario, the Burlington Beer Fest, and thought that it was a really cool idea. But I wanted to do something bigger and better — an outdoor event,” says Ogresko.

The YXE Beer Fest will indeed be outdoors, at Rotary Park, and it will feature more than just your usual beer stock found in the SLGAs. But moving from idea to executing the actual festival hasn't been easy, says Ogresko.

“I started this process in January,” she says. “Filling out the correct form and getting approval from the City and SLGA took longer than I expected. But after being in the industry for five years, and making connections, I thought this summer would be a good time to plan this.”

The beer fest will showcase over 30 microbreweries. The selection is vast, but not necessarily bound to local brews; vendors in attendance range from local Saskatoon breweries like Nokomis and Prairie Sun, to Anchor Brewery based out of San Francisco, California.

“It's like Top of the Hops, but it’s a beer sampling event, and it's strictly focused on craft breweries. Most of the beer is from Saskatchewan, and some from Alberta. We even have some microbreweries from further away, but it was really important to me that we focused [on] and support largely the local stuff,” she says.

If you’ve ever wanted to dive into the world of craft beers but were daunted by the task of knowing where to start, this might be the perfect event for you. A $35 advance entry fee ($40 at the door) gets you a four-ounce mug, four free drink tickets, and access to over 100 different beers. Here’s betting the four-ounce glass is enough to sample a large variety of beers before you end up on your face.

Ogresko says that the she also wanted to put a major focus on being environmentally friendly. The mugs given out are glass, reusable, and act as a nifty souvenir that you can take home.

“Having the reusable mug is a good way to save on all the plastic and paper [that are typically used in these festivals]. Our wristbands are biodegradable too. It was a bit more expensive to do it this way, but we’re trying to do things as environmentally friendly as possible.”

In addition to the wealth of good beers to gulp down, the festival will feature both music and some excellent food tucks. The musical artists, all Saskatchewan-born and -bred, include Close Talker, We Were Lovers, Phoenix Lauren, The Wheats, and League of Wolves. The food trucks feature your usual excellent suspects, including Ace Burger and Scout Mex Hall, but also some new ones you may not have tried yet.

“Some of these food trucks are just starting off, so we thought it would be a good idea to support them as well.”

The YXE Beer Fest will also offer a VIP Lounge (sponsored by Congress) for those who want to splurge a little bit more.

“There will be oyster-shucking, barbecue provided by Congress, and your own private bar,” says Ogresko. “And you'll be hanging out with all the bands!”

But although the bands and food are a great perk, Ogresko says that the festival is all about the beer.

“Beer festivals have been successful in other cities, so I thought, 'Why not bring it here?'”, she says. “It's cool to encourage people to discover new beer. A lot of people haven't had the local stuff here or don’t even know that it exists. The beer culture is growing here, so that’s why I want to bring an event like this to Saskatoon.”  

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