I was invited down to Oliver to attend this year’s “Cask and Keg”, an outdoor event focused on highlighting South Okanagan breweries, distilleries and cideries. This evening it was adults-only (19 plus), held at the Oliver Community Park. With plenty of free parking, and food and drink vendors on site, there is plenty to see and do for the duration of the 4 hour event.
The premise is you bounce from vendor to vendor, sipping on samples served in commemorative miniature snifter glass. The glasses are a nice keepsake with the event’s branding etched on to it. Your entry includes it and three tickets. The latter comes in handy, given you exchange 1-2 tickets for a taster.
The park is converted into an adult playground with stations set up under tents, lit with lamps. Themed for fall, settings included harvest apples and pumpkins, dry hay, and pressed blossoms. And centre pieces decorated seating areas and elevated the scene. It was all like a farmhouse fairytale.
There are several spots to perch on, and plenty of stopping moments to take in. Including a floral back drop to take photos in front of; and bottles of wine recycled as vases, strung up as an entry way. I especially liked the clothes line of different colour ribbons that wafted in the breeze.
Then when day light turned to night, the scene changed with the romantic glow of generator lights. And the added heat lamps and fire pits were helpful in keeping guest warm.
The whole experience is a free for all, you decide which vendor to start with, which of their offerings to taste (or all 3-4); and where to go for your next, to repeat steps 1 and 2. With over 15 different labels to try and the ability to talk up the owners and producers, there is so much to take away from this festival. And on the flip side, it is just as enjoyable as an occasion to gather your friends at and drink with.
The following is my account of the night, highlighting a few noteworthy points. Please excuse the photos, I was working against the setting sun, but wanted to do my best to capture the joyousness of this event.
There are a handful of local food trucks offering snacks and full serving portions to balance out your drinks with. It is best to make sure you start with a full stomach, and snack in between if staying the entire length of the event.
The following is what we had to share between 3 people. The Nashville hot chicken from “Vagabond Kitchen”, was well recommend by locals. Unfortunately we ordered it without the spice and it came bland, without seasoning. We should have been more specific and asked for it to be mild in heat level. The chicken had a good crunch none-the-less. But without a creamy sauce it was dry and hard to pull together with the cheese, lettuce, and brioche bun. It normally also comes with jalapeño and pickles, both of which would have added some zip to it.
Their poutine was solid, made with real cheese curds and plenty to boot. Just wished the gravy was richer and the fries crispier. But considering how much traffic they saw, and how busy they were, this was great.
From the “Thai on the Fly” truck we had two of their “Thai tacos”. Available in your choice of protein from Thai BBQ chicken, shrimp, or veggie. We has one of the chicken and one with shrimp; folded into a warm tortilla with sweet chilli, Thai basil, bean sprouts, green onion, peanuts, and cilantro. I liked the collection of texture and the unique-ness and freshness the bean sprouts brought to a taco.
We had the “smokie and perogy platter” from the stand with the exploratory name. This was declared their “number 1” dish. Six cheese and potato stuffed perogies, a smokie sliced in half, and plenty of sour cream and bacon bits over both. We ended our night of drinking with this and it was just what I wanted. Tasty and satisfying in all the right ways.
And for our night’s end dessert, we walked out with a bucket of mini doughnuts from “Our little donut factory”, a cinnamon and sugar staple at any out door event. Their warmth melted in your mouth, and you got to lick its sugar off your fingers afterwards.
As for drinks I went out of my way to taste from breweries I have never heard of, or take sips from beers and ciders I would not otherwise order.
The most original was from from “Detonate Brewing Co.” from Summerland BC. They were serving three options from their wooden box tap. I had to try the “Don’t wanna taco bout it”, as it’s name suggests, this is a beer flavoured like a savoury taco. In hit the ground beef spice notes perfectly. A spicy, salty flavour that grew in intensity the more you took in. You almost needed a drink to pair with it.
“Highway 97 Brewing Co.” was here presenting Penticton, offering up their “Okanagan fresh fruit hefe” and/or their “provincial park pale ale”.
“Firehall brewery” in Oliver is located in a repurposed fire hall and the names of their beers speak to their brand. Today it was their “Backdraft blonde” or “Holy Smoke Stout” on tap.
For something stronger, “Noteworthy Gin” delivered on their name; with the owner dawning a noteworthy orange suit to dole out samples of their gin. This is first product released by “The Dubh Glas Distillery”, a new distillery in BC’s agriculturally-rich Okanagan Valley.
For something sweeter, “Hawkers Organic, Rustic Roots Winery and Cidery Ltd.” was here representing Cawston BC; also known as the “Organic Farm Capital of Canada!” Here they offered popular orchard fruits as cider, including peaches and pears.
“Creek and Gully Cider” from Penticton gathered their fruit from the orchards of Naramata. I had their most popular option, a refreshing apple cider with a little “sparkle”.
I liked the theatrics of “Howling Moon Cider House” in Oliver. Their look was steampunk and their display included goggles that you couldn’t see out of, but were fun to wear if you wanted to do a literal blind taste test.
With all this drinking, you can take in a performance in front of the centre stage, in between. Knacker’s Yard, from Victoria, British Columbia (Coast Salish Territories), performed their traditional Irish, Scottish, English, Australian, and original music; doing so since 2013.
In short, if you are in the area, or thinking of a trip to South Okanagan during fall, I definitely suggest revolving your visit around this weekend and “Cask and Keg”; as well as “Festival of the Grape” the day after, like I did. What a way to taste what Okanagan has to offer. For more on the festival, and how you can get your tickets and accommodations for next year, visit the link below.
CASK AND KEG