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Beer fest boasts 150 varieties

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Chris and Lawrence Warwaruk, owners of Luxalune Gastropub, are ready for the Flatlanders Beer Festival.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Chris and Lawrence Warwaruk, owners of Luxalune Gastropub, are ready for the Flatlanders Beer Festival. Photo Store

Beer drinkers, start your taste buds.

More than 150 lagers, ales and other beer varieties from 17 countries will be poured at 48 booths at the annual Flatlanders Beer Festival tonight and Friday evening at the MTS Centre.

There will be plenty of local recipes represented, as Farmery, Half Pints and Fort Garry will all have booths.

If you're feeling adventurous, try a Fruli Strawberry beer from Belgium, German cherry ale Klosterbrauerei Neuzeller Kirschbier or Royal Jamaican ginger beer from Jamaica as well as well-known standards such as Grolsch from the Netherlands, Kronenbourg 1664 Lager from France or Pilsner Urquell from the Czech Republic.

Tickets cost $39.95 and are available at Ticketmaster and MLCC locations. Unlike last year, when attendees had to buy individual sample tickets, they'll simply be given a sampling cup this year.

Kait Flett, a co-ordinator with the Winnipeg Jets True North Foundation, which oversees the festival and receives the profits for its programming, said about 1,000 people are expected tonight and up to 1,300 on Friday.

Chris Warwaruk, one of the owners of Farmery Brewery, which has carved out a niche with its signature beer since its launch about 18 months ago, is looking forward to pouring it for new customers.

"We just want to expose the brand and expand the craft beer market. Our philosophy is we support anything that's craft and local," said Warwaruk, noting many craft beers are on tap at Luxalune Gastropub.

Warwaruk said according to a recent beer convention he attended in Denver, it's predicted the craft beer segment will make up 20 per cent of the market by next year. That means there's lots of room for growth in Manitoba, where he estimated craft beers represent less than five per cent of total sales.

"It's a good industry to be in. It's growing," he said.

Warwaruk is particularly bullish about Farmery's prospects because it has recently been picked up by a quartet of high-profile restaurant chains in Winnipeg -- Earls, Joeys, the Keg and Boston Pizza.

"You're in the big leagues when these chain stores start carrying you," he said.

More than $30,000 has been raised by Flatlanders in each of the last two years.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 12, 2014 B4

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