Squamoleons will have another reason to "cheers" this summer with the latest addition to the Sea to Sky event calendar: the Squamish Beer Festival.
Scheduled for July 11 at the O'Siyam Pavilion, this inaugural event will bring over 30 craft breweries from across the Pacific Northwest and beyond for a day of suds, sun and live music.
"It's going to be unique for Squamish in that we're going to have brewers from all over B.C., California, Oregon, Washington and Belgium," explained organizer Scott McQuade, owner of Scotties Liquor Store.
Participating breweries include Central City Brewers, Four Winds Brewing Company, Steamworks Brewing Company and Squamish's own Howe Sound Brewing, with more expected to come onboard as the fest draws nearer.
Early bird tickets, which range from $32 for general admission to $50 for a VIP pass, will give the more than 2,000 expected beer aficionados in attendance entrance to the festival grounds and six tokens to sample some of the world's best brews and ciders. Additional four-ounce tasting tickets will be available for $10 per half dozen.
The day will also feature an educational component, with John Folinsbee heading a home-brewing workshop. Self-taught, Folinsbee went from brewing at home to doing it for a living when Steamworks hired him after he earned an award for one of his home brews.
With the community's growing cache and the region's flourishing craft beer industry, McQuade said Squamish was a natural fit for the event, and hopes to see it grow in years to come.
"We want to get a bit bigger and maybe become multi day, where we will still have a one-day festival similar to what we're doing, but then add more workshops and more specialty nights," he said.
The Sea to Sky's other major beer festival served as a useful blueprint for organizers, McQuade revealed.
"The Whistler Village Beer Festival is a real inspiration for us," he said. "I went there the first year (in 2013) and my expectations weren't super high since it was a first-time event, but they really did everything right. They knocked it out of the park. We wanted to draw a lot of inspiration from that."
Between Whistler's festival, and a slew of beer-focused events across the Lower Mainland, it's apparent B.C.'s craft beer industry is enjoying something of a golden age, which McQuade attributes to customers' evolving demands and the quality of the product brewed here.
"It's a lot about keeping local and supporting local businesses. People are really into that now, and it's about the flavour, too," he said. "People are looking for more flavourful stuff, and that's what these craft breweries are doing. They're putting out these unique products that are completely different than anything else that was in the marketplace before." For more information, visit www.squamishbeerfestival.com. Early bird tickets are available until April 30 at www.picatic.com/event14243025557675570#/edit.