Local Brewers Vye for People’s Choice Award at Fest of Ale Spring Sessional

Vancouverites swarmed Main Street's London Pub to sample 18 spring sessional ales from 17 local brewers.

Credit: Simon Kear


People lined up bright and early for entry to London Pub on Main Street for the April 16 CAMRA Spring Sessional tasting. The $10 tickets got you entry in, a tasting glass and drink ticket. Subsequent drink tokens were $2.50 a piece.

Credit: Simon Kear


More than 200 beer lovers mingled and tippled at the Fest of Ale beer event.

Credit: Simon Kear


There is nothing more appealing to a beer drinker than a wall of casks. Seventeen local breweries entered 18 different beers for the brewer’s challenge. CAMRA volunteers worked quickly to keep the tasting line moving all day.

Credit: Simon Kear


CAMRA volunteer Rebecca pours a taste of Cannery Brewing’s No Justice Pale Ale from the Wall of Casks.

Credit: Simon Kear


A taste of Moon Under Water’s Best Bitter, the winner of the Brewer’s Challenge Award.

Credit: Simon Kear


Tasting booklets and notes at the Fest of Ale Spring Sessional. Ballots were filled out for the People’s Choice Award, presented to Tariq Kahn of Big Ridge Brewing Company.

Credit: Simon Kear


The winner of the People’s Choice Award received a temporary guest tap at London Pub. Head down there while the kegs are still full!

Credit: Simon Kear


A number of tipplers signed up for CAMRA memberships during the event. Singles cost $25, couples/family cost $40. A CAMRA membership gets you discounts at a selection of local beer establishments, including Firefly Fine Wines & Ales, Granville Island Brewing, Viti Wine and Lager, The Whip and Legacy Liquor Store.

Credit: Simon Kear


Sarah and Tim (left) accepting the Brewer’s Challenge Award on behalf of Ron and Don Bradley from Moon Under Water Brew Pub, from Vancouver CAMRA’s vice president Amanda Barry (right).

A few sips of the sessional ales at CAMRA brewer’s challenge make Vancouver’s slow-out-of-the-gates spring season feel more tolerable


More than 200 folks cheersed to good craft beer and great weather at the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) Vancouver Fest of Ale Spring Sessional, which took place at Main Street’s London Pub on Saturday, April 16, 2011.


The all-day event—part tasting, part brewer’s challenge—saw 17 local breweries enter 18 beers into a contest judged by a panel of “certified” beer tasting judges. A people’s choice award was also handed out, determined by ballots distributed to “the people” upon entry to the pub, with the winner getting a temporary guest tap at London Pub.


People started lining up outside before 11 a.m. to sample the “sessional” ales from the wall of casks—a pyramid of beer kegs stacked against a wall—and stayed through sundown. (I learned from event organizers that the term “sessional” is British for drinking a large quantity of beer during a social gathering without becoming intoxicated.)


Brewer’s Challenge at Fest of Ale Spring Sessional 

To participate in the event, brewers were asked to brew a beer big in taste and low in alcohol by volume (abv), with a maximum abv content of 3.5 percent. To put this in some kind of perspective, a regular beer averages about 5 percent.


With no style limitations, the resulting brews ranged from mild ales and pale bitters to wheat ale and even a stout. 


The drinking list was as follows:


Damon’s Mild Ale Barley Station Brew Pub, brewed by Damon Robson

Tariq’s Pale Bitter Big Ridge Brewing Company, brewed by Tariq Kahn

Claire’s Northern English Brown Ale Big River Brew Pub, brewed by Claire Connolly (who, I might add, knocked my socks off with a delicious coconut concoction at CAMRA’s Winterfest event in December)

Dave’s Berliner WeisseBrewhouse at Whistler, brewed by Dave Woodward

Terry’s No Justice Pale Ale Cannery Brewing Company, brewed by Terry Schoffer

Daniel’s Saison Coal Harbour Brewing Company, brewed by Daniel Knibbs

Vern’s Ordinary BeerGranville Island Brewing, brewed by Vern Lambourne

Dean’s Light American Wheat Ale Lighthouse Brewing Company, brewed by Dean McLeod

Ron & Don’s Best BitterMoon Under Water Brew Pub, brewed by Ron and Don Bradley

David’s Honey Badger Pale Ale Noble Pig Brew Pub, brewed by David Beardsel

Brent’s Blood Orange Berliner Weisse R&B Brewing, brewed by Brent Mills

Gary‘s Eat Your Breakfast Stout Red Racer Beer, brewed by Gary Lohin

Anders & Jack’s Ordinary BitterRussel Brewing Company, brewed by Jack Bensley and Anders McKinnon

Anders & Jack’s Sessional Brett Pale AleRussel Brewing Company, brewed by Jack Bensley and Anders McKinnon

Conrad’s Ginger Beer Steamworks Brewing Company, brewed by Conrad Gmoser

Dave’s Two Lions Pale Ale Taylor’s Crossing Brewery, brewed by Dave Varga

Jeff’s Peach Cream Ale Tin Whistle Brewing Co., brewed by Jeff Todd

Iain’s Dry Hopped Pale Ale Yaletown Brewing Company, brewed by Iain Hill


Spring Sessional awards go to…

CAMRA judges presented the Brewer’s Challenge Award to Ron and Don Bradley of Moon Under Water Brew Pub for their much talked about Ron & Don’s Best Bitter. Along with a little prestige, the brewers were presented with a copy of Yeast by Chris White and Jamil Zainasheff, $100 cash and a coveted pair of tickets to a Vancouver Whitecaps FC match.


The People’s Choice Award was given to Tariq Kahn of Big Ridge Brewing Company for his pale bitter—a fitting way to celebrate his birthday, which was the day before. As part of the prize, Kahn’s beer will be on exclusive guest tap at London Pub with four kegs in rotation. Get over there in the near future to sample some of the winner’s brew.


Gary’s Eat Your Breakfast Stout from Red Racer Beer was a close second, with a three-way tie for third that consisted of Noble Pig Brew Pub’s Honey Badger Pale Ale, Lighthouse’s Light American Wheat Ale and Moon Under Water’s Best Bitter. 


Campaign for Real Ale promotes quality ale and pubs

These advocates for traditional beer are volunteers dedicated to promoting good-quality real ale and pubs. CAMRA chapters around the world work toward proper quality, value and choice; support the community of public ale houses; call for improved licensing and the general appreciation of good pints as a part of our culture and heritage.


Just a thought, but I think Roger’s Arena could use their help…


Next up, Vancouver Craft Beer Week – May 6–14, 2011

If you are kicking yourself for not attending the spring sessional, don’t fear! Vancouver Craft Beer Week is coming up from May 6–14, 2011.


With nine days of thirst-quenching events, tastings and workshops, there are plenty of opportunities to get in on the hops.


Just a warning, in case you are someone that likes to mull things over, tickets are getting downed like hotcakes, with a few events already sold out. My personal recommendation is the Dead Famous Pub Crawl, a day-long brewpub-crawl through Yaletown and across to Granville Island. Prizes for the best dead people.