The fourth annual Fredericton Craft Beer Festival (FCBF) will take place on Saturday, March 12th, 2016. While this is the fourth consecutive year for the event, this will be the first time for the Fredericton Craft Beer Week, a six day celebration of craft beer in the city, from March 8th-13th. Lloyd Chambers started the original festival back in 2013, and has continued to offer many different beer-related events in Fredericton (and beyond) in the years since, including the Fredericton Poutine Festival, Fredericton Beer Run, Fredericton Cider Festival, Burgers n’ Beer, and the upcoming Christmas Beer Garden on December 20th. With tickets for the 2016 FCBF going on sale this Friday at 11 am, we decided to sit down with Lloyd and discuss what he has planned for the festivities next March…
Can you give us a little background on how you first decided to create the FCBF?
The idea for the event first came about over the sharing of several beers with Doug Williams (owner of the King Street Ale House). After talking about what we’d like to see in a beer festival, I went home and immediately created a Facebook page. It took off like crazy, with the event selling out before we even had our first brewery confirmed! Things have definitely changed since then, as we now have a full slate of breweries confirmed to be attending, before the actual ticket launch.
Can you give us an idea about what to expect from this year’s festival? What has changed, what has stayed the same, etc.
As in past years, the festival will continue to strongly focus on craft beer brewed in Atlantic Canada. We hope to have all 20 breweries from New Brunswick attending, plus at least 9 more from PEI and Nova Scotia; as you can see, the majority of breweries present will be from our region. For the third straight year, the event will be held at the Fredericton Convention Centre, which is a perfect fit for us. It really is the best venue in the city, in terms of both size and service.
A lot has changed, however. This is the first year that we will be holding an afternoon session on Saturday, along with the evening session. With about 1000 tickets for each session, more people will be able to attend overall, with slightly less in the evening than previous years. And while we’ll have about 45 different breweries attending (similar to last year’s event), there will be slightly fewer beers, ciders and meads overall (~170 vs. 200 last year); we’re looking for quality over quantity, which will mean more local craft products, as opposed to the big brands.
What are the options for tickets for both festival sessions?
The afternoon session will take place from 2:00 – 4:30 pm, and will include a custom tasting glass and unlimited 4 oz samples. The regular admission for the evening session includes the same, and takes place from 7:00 – 9:30 pm. As usual, there will also be a limited number – 200 – of VIP tickets for sale, for the evening session only. These allow early admission at 6:00 pm, and include a different tasting glass. Regular tickets are $55 + fee, while VIP tickets are $65 + fee. We will also be offering a Designated Driver option, where admission is $15 + fee (must be purchased with a regular or VIP ticket) and includes unlimited non-alcoholic beverages.
Tell us what you have planned for the days leading up to the festival.
Starting Tuesday, March 8th, there will be several different “mini beer events” held each day at different venues in Fredericton. Depending on the event, there will either be a charge to attend, or simply pay-as-you-drink. We’re still confirming the total list of what we’ll be putting on, but here’s a sneak preview of some of the events you can expect to see:
• March 8th (Tuesday) will kick off the week with a Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament at the KSAH; this one will be pay-as-you-drink, with a $5 winner-takes-all entry into the tournament. There will also be several cask ales from Garrison Brewing available.
• On Wednesday, the Crowne Plaza will be putting on their “Offaly Good Evening of Food and Craft Beer” from 7:00 – 10:00 pm, which will feature five courses of “lesser known cuts” from various all-New Brunswick-raised produce. Each course will be served with a different 12-oz craft beer; tickets are $70 + tax and gratuity.
• A tap-takeover from Garrison Brewing at the King Street Ale House will happen on Thursday night. No charge to attend (just pay-as-you-drink); with up to 24 different beers pouring, this could possibly be the largest-ever tap takeover in the province.
• There will be a couple of private events for brewers only, as a “thank you” for attending the festival and other events through the week. Right now we’re looking at a meet-and-greet Friday night, followed by a Brewers Brunch at the KSAH Saturday morning before the festival sessions begin.
• On Sunday morning, we’ll be holding “Down the Keg”, a short 3 km run, leaving from the KSAH, to help burn off the calories put on over the preceding days! Following this, there will be a Brewers Jazz Brunch (open to the public) at the KSAH (to add some calories back on).
More events will be announced as we confirm them, including something in the works at Grimross Brewing, and a special event hosted by Andrew Estabrooks. We’re hoping to have everything basically set in stone by the beginning of the New Year. We also plan on offering a Beer Passport for the week, which will act as basically an event guide. You’ll earn stamps for each event that you attend, which you can collect to enter into draws to win some cool prizes.
Do you currently have any sponsors lined up?
We’re putting some extra energy in attracting sponsors this year, with a “sponsor structure” that goes through different levels, from “growler”, to “keg”, to “barrel”. Founding sponsors King Street Ale House and Massive Graphics are returning this year, and Investors Group is a barrel sponsor. We should be announcing a presenting sponsor sometime in the near future. Also, the Crowne Plaza is the official hotel of the festival; they offer reduced rates for festival-goers every year.
Sounds like everything is shaping up nicely! Anything you’d like to add?
As always, the focus of this festival (and all of the events surrounding it) can be brought back to our tagline: “It’s all about the beer. Pure. Simple.”
We’re already looking forward to March! Thanks to Lloyd for answering our questions and giving us a taste of what’s to come. Keep following FCBF on social media for more updates, as well as this blog, as we’ll be sure to post more on the fest as the dates get closer. Remember that tickets to the festival go on sale tomorrow at 11 am; be sure to get yours early, as they sold out quite quickly last year!