Edmonton Craft Beer Festival celebrates 'burgeoning' local breweries and distilleries

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If you are a fan of craft beer and local distilleries, this is your weekend.

The Edmonton Craft Beer Festival takes place this Friday and Saturday at the Edmonton Expo Centre. More than 500 beers from 170 breweries will be featured at the event alongside ciders, meads, and other alcoholic spirits.

In addition to tastings, the event will have seminars exploring how to cook with beer or how to pair it with different foods.

Bill Robinson, Alberta Beer Festivals president, told CTV News Edmonton the popularity of craft breweries has skyrocketed in the city in recent years.

“There’s a wide range of things people can come and try,” Robinson said. “Edmonton has a burgeoning craft beer scene and craft distillery scene.”

Interest was not impacted by the COVID-19, Robinson shared, as during the pandemic more than 20 craft breweries and 12 craft distilleries opened throughout the province.

This weekend’s festivities will mark the first time the event has been celebrated since 2019 after COVID-19 postponed the event. Robinson said small-scale and craft breweries rely on events like this in order to survive.

“The larger companies can get by with increasing their marketing budget,” Robinson said. “But the smaller guys, the local guys, they really need to be able to get out in the community to talk to people, to share their passion and stories.

“It’s something we are all missing,” he added. “We’re doing everything we can to make it as safe as possible.”

The event will be using the Restrictions Exemption Program, meaning all attendees need to demonstrate proof of at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot, a negative test result within 72 hours of the event, or a doctor’s exemption letter.

Masks will need to be worn at the event except when seated or standing at a table and when actively sampling a beverage or food.

“Come celebrate community,” Robinson said. “It’s brewed here, it’s drank here, the money stays here and it goes right back into the agriculture.”