by: Evan Duggan
VANCOUVER, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- Paul Malyon stands in a farmyard holding a small plastic mug full of a frothy mango-colored India Pale Ale (IPA).
"This is a brilliant concept," he says, and takes a sip.
"It's something that we do have in the U.K.," he says, referring to craft beer festivals. "But we don't have the weather to have them outdoors as you do here."
Malyon is at the B.C. Hop Fest. Now in its fourth year, the festival takes place on the grounds of a hop farm about 70 kilometres east of Vancouver in the Fraser Valley.
The single-day festival marks the close of the annual hops harvest, which occurs over three weeks at the end of the summer. Hops are small cone-shaped buds that provide flavor, aroma and bitterness to beer.
This event brings together about 30 B.C. craft breweries who are here pouring their best "fresh-hopped" beers.
Fresh-hopped beer - the focus of the festival - is brewed with hops that has been picked and placed in the brewing kettle on the same day. That means fresh-hopped beer is only available at this time of year.
It's early in the afternoon and about 200 people are mulling about the yard that's surrounded by recently-harvested hop vines. The faint scent of cow manure hangs in the air. People are sipping beers of various colors such as amber, brown and black.
"For us, [craft beer] is a demonstration of quality over quantity," Malyon says. "This is great for the local area for business and networking," he adds, noting that he has attended this festival in three of its four years.
Dan Fuggles stands under a tent pulling beers from two large kegs. He's the co-owner of Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks from Richmond, B.C.
He's serving up a fresh "wet-hopped" IPA called "Chrono".
The fresh-hopped beer gives off a better aroma and has a "juicier" body, Fuggles tells Xinhua.
His brewery, which is quite new, always looks forward to this time of year, he says.
The farm's owner, Dwayne Stewart, launched the festival to introduce his hop company to the brewers, and to introduce the brewers to local beer lovers.
He says they're expecting about 1,200 guests to the farm throughout the day to enjoy the beer, food and live musical bands.
"You've got many more people locally who are producing hops," he says. "The brewers have a greater selection of wet hops that they can access, and it gives them the opportunity to play around a little bit, doing something they can't do every day of the year."
He says the local farmers though need to work hard to get access to brewers who already have entrenched relationships with larger American hop producers just south of the border in the Yakima region.
"Getting our brewers to buy [from] B.C. [producers] and buy local is our greatest challenge," he says.