Beer and Chilliwack – A connection rooted in history

The first annual Fraser Valley Culture & Craft Beer festival takes place Saturday November 30th at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre. Surprising this will be the first ever beer festival, considering the history of hop production in Chilliwack.

While I am certainly no expert on the art of crafting beer, a quick search rendered the following facts on hops and its part in the making of the frothy beverage. Hops are the flower of the hop vine, usually grown on tall trellises. Hops, although just one of the ingredients, play a significant role in the production of beer and contribute bitterness, aroma and flavor and also help in preservation.

Chilliwack was at one time a big player in hop production in B.C. starting in the 1860’s and continuing through until the 1960’s when high production costs coupled with the public’s taste for lighter beer brought down demand for the crop. During the 1940’s, according to the Chilliwack Museum and Archives, hop production peaked with 2000 acres of hops planted in Chilliwack. Traditionally picked by hand to ensure the delicate flowers are handled carefully, the fall hop harvest saw around 4000 workers provided with seasonal employment to bring in the crops.

History is repeating itself at Sartori Cedar Ranch in Columbia Valley, where in 2007 Chris Sartori started his first hop plants and now has 12 acres in hop crops providing hops to local brewers. Maybe this will be the start of the hop industry resurgence in Chilliwack?

So, back to the first annual Fraser Valley Culture & Craft Beer Festival. This fundraiser for the arts event is hosted by the Chilliwack Cultural Centre and sponsored by local Chilliwack businesses, including the Royal Hotel. Along with more than 20 breweries offering samples of their craft beer, delicious local cuisine will also be featured along with live musical entertainment. For more information on the Craft Beer festival or to order your tickets here is the link. http://www.chilliwackculturalcentre.ca/event/craftbeerfestival/

Located in historic downtown Chilliwack the Royal Hotel is a quick walk or taxi ride from the Cultural Centre. As a sponsor the Royal is pleased to offer special room rates of only $69.00 per room for Saturday November 30. Call the Royal at 604-792-1210 or toll free at 1-888-434-3388. Use the booking code “BEER” to make your reservation at this special rate.

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