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PHOTOS: Brewski 2024!

Three hundred-plus revelers invaded Apex Mountain's Gunbarrel Saloon Saturday evening for the 2024 edition of the late-winter tradition known simply as Brewski.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

Three guesses as to the beverage(s) of choice.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

Many of those revelers had come straight off the slopes, one of which ends at Gunbarrel's front door. More made the trip from Penticton and the valley.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

Virtually everyone we asked was planning to stay the night.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

And for good reason. Twenty-three breweries/cideries made the scene, each dispensing taster after taster (after taster) of their golden elixir.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

Gunbarrel owner Jesse Ritchie, whose group purchased the establishment in November of 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, said there was little doubt Brewski would survive the ownership swap.

"It's just a great event," said the super laid-back Ritchie, an Okanagan native and Apex regular from back in the day. "It's been around a long time and it sells out right away. And the brewers come from all over."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

The Gunbarrel upper deck, typically open for Brewski, was closed Saturday night. But the main floor was hopping and Ritchie was standing in the middle of the action, tuning us into Apex's upcoming "Beach Day."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"It's the 23rd of March," he said. "We'll be doing a Mr. Muscle and a bikini contest. We'll transform the bar into a beach. And we’ll have a patio party with a reggae vibe."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

Also in the middle of the action were Penticton buddies Emily Fitzowich and Claudia Hernandez, who we seem to run into all over the place. Just a few weeks ago we chatted with them at the Penticton Art Gallery's fundraising Loving Mugs event.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

The former is an avid painter who'll debut her latest work March 22nd at Cannery Brewing during the unveiling of the 2024 Ignite the Arts Festival's Mini Mural Project. The latter is a recent Mexican import who volunteers at stuff like Peach Fest and is straight-up thrilled to have relocated to Penticton.

Saturday they hit the slopes for a little snowboarding before ending up at Brewski.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

For the most part, the breweries and cideries sent along their first-string players. Like owners John and Nick Kapusty of Highway 97 Brewing, co-owner and head brewer Ross Thompson of Cannery Brewing, owners Mike and Melinda Coghill of Neighbourhood Brewing and Yellow Dog Brewing (which we hear will open by summer), and co-owner Scott Breier of Abandoned Rail Brewing.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

Also on hand was co-owner Liam Peyton of Slackwater Brewing, who with wife and co-owner Kelsey Peyton has a pretty admirable attendance record at off-site events.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"We have a small team," he said when asked why Slackwater's bosses so often show up at remote events. "And specifically here in Penticton and at Apex, having the face of the brand on site goes a long way. Ultimately, there's probably no better people to rep our beers than my wife and me."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

But for the Peytons, Apex and Gunbarrel and the event itself hold special significance.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"This event is our unofficial fifth anniversary of the first beer we ever poured," he said. "Brewski 2019 was the first time Hatchery Brewing (the original name for Slackwater) ever poured any liquid.

"We had to change our name before Fest of Ale that year, so the only event we ever poured as Hatchery was Brewski 2019."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

But that’s not all.

"It also has a lot of personal significance," said Peyton. "Kelsey and I actually got married at the Gunbarrel. And Kelsey grew up in the ski community. And I moved to Canada for skiing. So to have a festival where we get to celebrate all of that is pretty special."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

Upcoming this week for Slackwater is the latest version of the highly regarded comedy show "Comedy on the Verge," a pro-am show hosted by comedian Andrew Verge.

"It’s free comedy for anyone who just wants to come and watch," said Peyton, "and it's one of the few comedy companies that’s Penticton-based. It'll be an open-mic, pro-am format that should be super cool."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

But representation at Brewski 2024 went way beyond the Penticton market. From Oliver were Firehall Brewing and Howling Moon Craft Cider – the latter being one of at least five cideries to infiltrate Brewski 2024.

Three more cideries came from Summerland. So too did Giant's Head Brewing and Detonate Brewing.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

All in all, a solid showing and a ton of happy faces. Not bad for a year when money's tight and the eonomy is...ouch.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>



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