In just about three weeks, I'll be making the Northeasterly trek to the 23rd annual Okanagan Fest of Ale alongside gonzo musicians Matt Carter and Myc Sharrat.
This'll be the second year in a row for our band of merrily-plastered marauders. So you better believe that by this point, we've pretty much got it figured out.
You're welcome because we're about to tell you how to crush the Okanagan Fest of Ale just like Quint crushes a Naragansett on the deck of the Orca. And just like Jaws; everybody wins, and nobody does.
Fair warning—this is an unrated experience; not suitable for most audiences. There will be smells you can't explain, spans of time you won't remember. Follow our lead, and there may be a moment where you wake up in a ditch next to a pile of beer-soaked Ernie heads.
Hundy-per worth it. Just look at how much fun we had last year. LOOK AT IT!
Thursday, April 12th.
Walking into the OFOA stone-cold sober is a rookie move, as is walking in shit-face drunk. You want to be comfortably hovering somewhere around post-hangover and "coming up to zero." The best way to do that is to head up on Thursday for some pre-drinking at Bad Tattoo Brewing Co.
It's our first stop after arriving in Penticton, also known as the Peach City, but more aptly "A Place to Stay Forever." Forever, because by about 3 am on Sunday morning, we've lost our keys and phones and just can't find our way back to the hotel in time to catch our ride home.
Last time we were at Bad Tattoo, we had the joy of drinking a dangerously delicious DIPA that blew our socks off. Paired with a couple of their amazing pizzas, the only thing we regret about that night is that we didn't stay and drink more DIPAs.
Fun fact: Bad Tattoo sells about 50,000 pizzas a year.
It's also worth noting that friend of Matt Drinks Beer Joe Wiebe will be presenting A History of Beer … in 59 Minutes! at Bad Tattoo that same night at 7 pm. Well worth the $25 for anyone interested in learning more about BC's brewing history.
After Bad Tattoo, there's only one place to go. It's where the beer's cold, the food's delicious, and where I lost my phone last year. Craft Corner Kitchen is a community-driven Gastropub with a delicious craft lineup, long tables, and amazing, locally-sourced food.
Last year, the chef brought us some hop salt he'd crafted and cooked us up an experimental (that is, off-menu), deep-fried hamburger. If there's anything better than that to have while you're drinking, I don't know what it is.
Long story short-I destroyed the hell out of that hamburger (Hasselhoff woulda been proud), spilled a beer, and lost my phone (thanks to the owner of CCK for helping me out there). All in all, a pretty damn good time.
Did I mention the donuts?
Friday, April 13th (day 2), AKA (Holy hell, I just realized that the OFOA starts on Friday the 13th)
Something horrible happened in Carter's room last year. Like, he secretly stumbled on the Necronomicon sometime after Craft Corner and summoned an unspeakable (but eternally smellable), savage evil that he bludgeoned to death with his saxophone and stuffed under the couch. Anyway, we're up and ready to rally, and in Penticton nothing says "rally" like the breakfast bowls at Terry's Comfort Food with Attitude.
Open daily from 5:30 am to 2 pm, Terry and Nancy Folkestead serve up some seriously heaping handfuls of hangover-curing comfort food. It's all good, but the breakfast bowls are legendary.
Forgo the full-size bowls and go for the half size, because the half size is fully full size for anyone except a starved Takeru Kobayashi. I talked about the Big Easy out loud last year, and everybody laughed at me.
Well, burn in hell doubters. This year, I'm going hard on the easy, and then you tell me who's laughing.
Seriously, tell me. I'll probably be meat blind, so you'll have to let me know.
Ever see a photo of those pythons that swallow a pig whole? That's what it's like after Terry's. Since it's probably only 10 am at this point, take a minute or three to unbuckle your pants and ride out the breakfast sweats, then get to pre-planning your drinking strategy at the Fest of Ale on Untappd.
The OFoA is a licensed Untappd venue, which makes it easy to pre-plan (and pre-judge) your festival brews. At the time of writing this post, they'd already announced a triple IPA from Twin Sails, Double Juxtapose, a saison named Pamela from BNA, and a fine selection from Luppolo.
We tend to start with the casks, as they're best drank just after tapping. After that, it's anyone's game.
Anyway, don't let us tell you what to do: check out the Okanagan Fest of Ale on Untappd.
You could pre-drink at this point (you animal, it's only 11 am), but be prepared to rally through to the wee hours. Gonzo as I am, I'm an old man, so unless there's something spectacular in front of me, I'll probably take this moment to rock a nap.
Carter suggests at this point, heading to the beach for, "getting fresh air and resetting one's soul." I'm not sure when Matt became a hot yoga instructor, but there's truth in his statement. Penticton, in April, is still pretty chill (which is to say cold), so you can have a little me time on the beach and soak in some lake air before the 4 o'clock bell.
You could also, if you're so inclined, hit Craft Corner Kitchen for some pre-drinking donut carbs.
Did I mention the donuts?
OFoA starts at 4:00 sharp. For step one, buy some tokens, either with cash (inside) or Interac (outside). We buy 10 at a time, as it promotes responsible drinking.
After you've bought your tickets, step two is to find the dudes in costumes (that's us); we might be wearing any number of costumes including a dragon, an alien, a zombie banana, Green Lantern (ask Myc about last year), toques, Jason masks, Bigfoot, or Bert and Ernie. Give us some drink tokens. Seriously.
Step three is easy; just rally some brews, eh.
For step four, you'll want to buy some more tickets, because the first 10 go the fastest. It's also a good time to talk about the donuts, AKA, the food, because OFoA's food features are a thing to drool over. Looks like local faves Craft Corner Kitchen are bringing braised pork ribs (no word on the donuts, which were these legendary hop-salt dusted delicacies last year). Brodo is bringing this thing called a meat "balla" — house made roast garlic+basil boursin and truffled mushroom buttermilk cider onion rings with smoked lager aioli, while Tacos del Norte is serving up Veracruz style pulled pork Al Pastor tacos. There are 13 food vendors in all, each as impressive as the last, all necessary to stop the speed wobbles when you're 20 tasters in.
Fest of Ale: Friday Edition
For step five, you'll get to steppin'; the OFoA's musical acts are off the hook. Three stages inside the venue and another in the outdoor covered area provide you with plenty of tunes to embarrassingly dance to.
This is what you look like.
There's Myc Sharratt (guitar, vocals) & Matt Carter (alto/baritone saxophone, vocals, beatbox) performing acoustic rock with a decidedly funky edge (ask Matt to play "careless whisper," he loves it). Aidan Mayes and Mandy Cole's sweet, sweet acoustic indie-folk-pop-rock-girl harmonies will soothe any savage beasts, and my personal favourites, the Dungbeatles (sorry Matt and Myc, but you can't hold a candle to a dude who makes a washtub bass with a hockey stick) will drop an oh-so-Canadian bluegrass bomb on our unsuspecting earholes. 15 acts in all will grace the stage over the course of two days.
Well, 14. Matt and Myc have the combined grace of a drunk panda, but they're still pretty good.
Steps six through ten should be obvious. Drink. Eat. Dance. Repeat.
Say it with me.
Bonus step: Wear matching tees with your friends. Friday only, OFoA is featuring the first time ever fest of ale best team tee contest. According to the Fest of Ale site, the friendly folks from Visit Penticton will be onsite Friday April 13th, camera ready to capture team-tee tasters with prizes for Best Team Tee and bragging rights up for grabs.
The Brewers' After Party
After Fest of Ale, if you're smart, you'll hit the sack and get ready to rally—day two starts at noon on Saturday, and you won't have much time to prepare.
We're not smart, so we took advantage of our invite to the brewers' after party. Cannery Brewing was kind enough to play host in 2017 (the actual location is a secret to everyone who's not a brewer). The party featured music from the Dungbeatles, tasty food, and beer.
Truth be told, I was pretty hammered at this point, so all I really remember is that Cannery were amazing hosts, that the food and beer were good, and the cask is legendary. Last year, it was 30-day habanero beer-basically, someone took a cask, put a ton of habaneros in it, and let it sit for a month.
And nobody ever saw her again.
It was intense. The bartender gave us about a quarter inch in the bottom of a pint glass, looked at the three of us and said, "that's all you need, just share it around." Legend has it that someone out there drank a whole pint of it. I think it's an urban legend.
I vaguely remember drinking a pitcher of beer at some point, but who can say. The atmosphere was amazing, an after party comparable to the one at GCBF. After the after party, we hit the town, heading back to Craft Corner Kitchen for more brews and foods. Everything after was a messy blur. Even now, I can quite recall which nights we went to Craft Corner Kitchen. I feel like we went on Friday and Saturday nights both, but at the time of this telling, I'm not so sure.
Saturday, April 14th (AKA Fest of Ale: Day Two)
I'm hung over just writing about this, but here goes.
Remember Terry's? Do that. Bonus points if you go in your pajamas, or even better, a bathrobe. +10 bonus points if you have to leave early to track down something you lost. +50 if you leave from a stranger's house.
Fest of Ale starts at noon. Make sure you get your eggs (minimally, three). According to Matt (and science), eggs are rich in the amino acid cysteine that helps break down acetaldehyde, the toxin responsible for those awful hangovers.
Once at Fest of Ale, remember our mantra:
Assuming you survive day two, and that you have just enough rally left in you, you might be ready for the final step to OFoA, which is:
The Murderer's Row Cask Event is the after party after the Saturday event. For $30, you get a t-shirt and the opportunity to destroy 13 casks from 13 breweries. Word has it that they lock the doors, and nobody leaves until the casks are gone. It's like Thunderdome, but instead of Master Blaster, you get five dozen dipsomaniacs in the Okanagan's version of Leaving Las Vegas.
We didn't go last year, mostly out of fear, and the knowledge that we had to rally back to Nanaimo first thing Sunday morning.
Speaking of Sunday morning, did I mention the donuts?
After you're done drooling on your iPhone, head over to the Fest of Ale website and buy tickets. 65+ brewers bringing more than 150 brews, great food, and live music. Plus, proceeds from the event go to charitable causes—nearly $700,000 in the last 23 years, so if you don't go, it's like stealing from charity.
Tickets for the Okanagan Fest of Ale start at just $29 for one day or $49 for both. It's a hell of a steal at less than twice the price.
See you there, eh?