Stephanie Bertrand, left, and Jerome Snit pour beer at the Marten Brewpub booth during the Great Okanagan Beer Festival, May 13 at Waterfront Park, Kelowna. (Carli Berry/Black Press)

Say cheers to the summer

Beer is more than just a beverage — it brings people together

Beer is more than just a beverage — it’s a catalyst that brings people together.

Sounds of laughter and merriment filled Kelowna’s Waterfront Park as patrons gathered to say pröst to their favourite Okanagan craft breweries for the third annual Great Okanagan Beer Festival, May 13.

“It went really well,” said Joe Strickland, brewmaster of Marten Brewpub in Vernon. “Lots of people kept coming back to try the beer.”

For the festival, Marten Brewpub brought down their staple brew, Lunkhead lager, and a strawberry basil hefeweizen to appease the palates of the beer connoisseurs.

“Everyone came by and wanted to try (the hefeweizen),” said Strickland.

Director of the Great Okanagan Beer Festival Katt Frew said she hoped to see between 2,500 to 3,000 people at the event to try beer from 60 different breweries, categorized by region: Okanagan, Greater Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Port Moody, Across B.C., Out of Province, and Ciderville.

The festival is originally based out of Whistler and continues to grow each year. This year had double the food trucks, four sets of live music, 20 more breweries, and the new cider section for cider lovers.

“We have a passion for taking the show on the road and we have a soft spot for Kelowna,” said Frew.

“I think community festivals are so vital to showcase local talent as it is. There are so many foodies and craft and cider enthusiasts in the area, everyone loves to be together outside… (Kelowna) makes for an incredible setting.”

The beer festival wasn’t affected by the flooding evacuations and concerns, and was host to overall sunny weather.

Through the festival, local brewers such as Marten Brewpub garnered new fans in the Okanagan craft beer market, as well as treating what owner Pearl Marten refers to as the loyal locals.

“A lot of people from Vernon came by saying we love what you do,” said Strickland.

After the festival, Strickland came back to Vernon to install the brewpub’s new canning line, which will be releasing product early next week.

With files from Carli Berry, Black Press.