Thousands took in the P.E.I. Beer Festival tasting sessions at the Delta Prince Edward on Friday and Saturday with more than 100 different varieties of brew from around the world to sample during the three tasting sessions.
However, the spotlight wasn’t just focused on beer.
A number of vendors at the festival were also offering their own spin on cider, including some breweries that only produce cider.
“Cider is actually the fastest-growing sector of all alcohol in the world. That’s because it’s a sector that’s been dormant for a long time,” said Adam Clawson of Red Rover Brew.
Clawson, who owns the Fredericton-based brewery with Nicola Mason, said it was his first time at the festival since he began producing cider four years ago.
The feedback was positive, with Clawson saying that many attendees said they had never tried a “cider like this.”
“They’re really surprised and the reason is because, unlike a lot of the mainstream ciders, we use 100 per cent apple juice from all Maritime apples so the flavour of the different apples we use really comes through” said Clawson. “It’s not like drinking apple juice, it’s more like drinking a really high quality wine.”
Attendee Marc DesRoches was one of many who enjoyed Clawson’s product, especially a “fall” variety that the brewer said was meant to evoke a “savoury apple pie leaning on a windowsill in the fall.”
“It was really good,” said DesRoches, who also gave the overall festival a thumbs up. “It’s awesome, there’s a lot of great beers and really good music.”
The event, which is part of the Fall Flavours Festival, is focused on educating Islanders and tourists alike on the art and craft of brewing and tasting beer.
Event manager Al Douglas said this year’s event went off incredibly.
“It was amazing and was definitely the biggest and best one yet,” said Douglas. “It definitely shows there is a love for beer in Prince Edward Island.”
Douglas agreed that cider is a growing market with a number of cider companies popping up on the east coast during the past several years.
Including some of those companies was a natural fit for the festival, he said.
"Especially for those who can't drink beer for whatever reason, maybe they're gluten-free.... but still want to get in on the fun," he said.
Apart from alcohol, the festival also offered local food such as oysters.
Red Rover Brew was far from the only company offering cider.
The Memramcook-based Scow was another N.B. cider company in the festival for the first time.
The family-owned company is part of a third generation apple orchard.
“The first tree was put in there in 1932,” said Sonya Bourgeois, whose father owns the orchard.
Although the family members have been making wine for about 20 years, they decided to enter the cider business about three years ago.
Bourgeois agreed it’s a growing industry, with the brewery having doubled its cider sales every year since introducing it.
The festival was her first time promoting the product outside of N.B.
“It’s been amazing. There have been so many responses and good vibes. People are lining up and coming for seconds and thirds,” said Bourgeois.
Both cider companies said they hope to have their products soon available in P.E.I., which Clawson said was a common request at the festival.
“They’re all asking the same question, ‘where can I buy this,?’’’ said Clawson. “We’re hoping to get here soon.”