Alberta Beer Festivals Inc. — Growing an industry one festival at a time!

by Jordan Parker A lberta Beer Festival Inc strives to have a positive impact on the industries that they represent while supporting local charities and communities on their mission to provide the ultimate beer and spirit experience for brewers, distillers and for festival goers. Each of ABF’s six, yes six signature events provide a forum for breweries and distilleries to share their stories, passions, and products with the beer enthusiasts of Western Canada allowing them to grow the industry one festival at a time.

Bill Robinson is pretty comfortable saying he got into the craft beer business before most people knew there was a market. The president of Alberta Beer Festivals just finished the 15th Annual Calgary International Beerfest, to much fanfare, but craft beer wasn’t always an easy sell in the province. “When we started this, we were working in the communications sector initially. But we had a sharp turn into events when our clients were bought out,” said Robinson. The company began working with rugby events, the stampede, and did a food and wine show. “We could get a young demographic, andwe noticed there were no festivals specific to beer. We thought we had a good opportunity,” he said. There were only six breweries in the province when they began, two of those being brew pubs. But

thanks to open liquor laws regarding taxation, the Calgary International Beerfest was born. “We lacked local beers at first, but we were able to bring beers in from all over at a small cost. As things got better and bigger, we expanded to Edmonton,” he said. “They had 14 breweries there, and we thought that was huge at the time.” “We could get a young demographic, and we noticed there were no festivals specific to beer. We thought we had a good opportunity.” Fast-forward to 2019, and the company just saw a Calgary Beerfest that had a higher coat check number than their first event’s attendee total. “It’s just amazing now, and we’re running six festivals a year. People come from all over the place for this. Breweries have rotating, seasonal lines, and we added ciders and spirits,” he said.


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