The Orléans Craft Beer Festival is back!

One of the festival’s main draws (aside from the beer) are the musical performances. Mel Iads photo

On February 22nd, the Orléans Craft Beer Festival announced its cancellation for the 2024 season, but, in a story emblematic of the community around craft beer, managed to bounce back a week later with positive news thanks to community support.

Since the 2020 departure of Ottawa’s longest running beer festival, Ottawa Beerfest, the Orléans Craft Beer Festival is one of only a few beer events this size in the Capital region. The Orléans Craft Beer Festival is an annual event where more than twenty five Ontario breweries serve up to five of their best seasonal and mainstay beers, alongside several food vendors and, of course, wine and spirits.

What’s different about the Orléans Craft Beer Festival is the sense of community. Being an outdoor “street party” festival where vendors, volunteers and community chat over beer styles and local talent makes it an important moment in Ottawa’s calendar. It’s been called the “can’t miss event of the season,” featuring musical acts on both days of the festival.

The festival also hosts a widely anticipated homebrew competition with over 100 categories, getting the local homebrewing community excited to be involved in the festivities. Awards are given to the top four finalists for Best of Class, plus the Best in Show will receive a pro-am prize to brew with a local Ottawa brewery. Last year, the winner of The 5th annual Orléans Craft Beer Festival Homebrew Competition (2023) was Miro Sep, with Par For The Kolsch! He got to brew his beer on a professional scale with Ottawa’s own Broken Stick Brewing.

Interested in entering a homebrew competition?

Check out Jordan St. John’s “5 ways to win your next home brew competition.

Organizers posted the exciting update, just one week after announcing the festival’s hiatus, thanks to fans banding together to put on the event. “Where there is a will, there is a way! Although there were some valid reasons for an unfortunate cancellation announcement a week ago, thanks to the incredible support from our amazing community and dedicated volunteers, we’ve been able to fine tune a few details and we’re thrilled to announce that the festival is BACK ON. The overwhelming encouragement and enthusiasm have fuelled organizers’ determination to make the annual Summer event happen once again!” says Orléans Festivals.

Because the event tries to ensure a great experience for everyone involved and give back to the community, organizers simply did not have the capacity and level of service to run the event this year. I chatted with Kevin Hurtubise, festival organizer, to get the scoop.

Josh McJanett of Dominion City Brewing Company serving up a barrel-aged beer at last year’s (2023) festival. Mel Iads photo

The Growler: Obviously we saw the sad announcement on February 22nd, that both the Orléans Craft Beer Festival and Cork & Fork wouldn’t be taking place in 2024. How did the community support change the decision?

Kevin: Let me start by saying our initial decision wasn’t taken lightly and there were some valid reasons for us cancelling the events for this year. That said, the community outreach was overwhelming. We had local businesses, community councillors, previous festival attendees, and volunteers all reach out to offer support where they could.

The outpouring of support was incredible. We quickly realized that we underestimated the impact this event has, not only for our east end community, but from across the city and beyond! Our tag line we’ve used over the years has been simple. “Beer. Food. Music. Friends.” We have an incredible selection of craft beers, delicious options from local food vendors, and a great live music lineup, but what’s most important for everyone is the opportunity to get together with friends and family after a long winter for a street party that kicks off their summer!

We’ve heard from people right across Canada and a few from the United States asking about the dates for the event as they’re planning their summer vacation around it. It’s great to host such a vibrant community event that attracts people outside of our city; it gives us the opportunity to showcase just how great of a city Ottawa is!

The Growler: What’s in store for the home brew competition this year? Can you tell me a little more about how many participants you’re accepting and how to get involved?

Kevin: Yes, our homebrew competition is set to return this year for the 6th year!

We’ve been fortunate this year to partner with The Ottawa Home Brew Society (OHBS), they will be helping to organize and run the competition. We have approximately 100 submissions or so each year. We’re fortunate to have some other great partners for this competition, including, but not limited to Hop Bomb Apparel, Beer Grains, and even some of the local breweries toss in some swag for top place finishers.

Each year, the winner gets their name on the coveted Orléans Craft Beer Festival Homebrew Champion Trophy, but they also get to brew their winning beer at a local brewery. In the past, winners have had their beers brewed by Dominion City, Stray Dog Brewery, Orleans Brewing Company, Broadhead Brewing Company, and Broken Stick Brewing Company. We haven’t selected the brewery for this year just yet, but an announcement on this will happen by the end of March.

Ottawa’s best Hip cover band, Little Bones, performing at the Orleans Craft Beer festival in 2019. Mel Iads photo

The Growler: Which musical performances should we expect to see?

Kevin: So personally, I love live music and really thought initially back in 2017, that it would be a great way to give people that big downtown festival feel, but within a $5 Uber ride home at night!

Each year we bring in various artists who have assorted genres of music to try and appease all festival goers. In the past, for our craft beer event, we’ve brought in Barstool Prophets, The Honest Heart Collective, Little Bones, The Lionyls, Disco Inferno, East Coast Experience, Damien Maze, and the list goes on. This year’s line up will be announced by the end of March, but you can expect two bands each tasting session!

The Growler: Anything else new or exciting you want to tease us with?

Kevin: Each year, we have our traditional “Wish you Were Beer” attendee cheer! This year, we will include local celebrities and community leaders to be the ones on the mic to lead that moment. You can follow us on YouTube to get a better sense of how this works!

We also have additional festival swag that people can purchase. We’re planning to have a contest  where local graphic designers can help create the imagery used for the 2024 edition of the festival t-shirts and hoodies.

Our Saturday afternoon session is new from last year and had great participation which will continue this year as well. We’re hoping to make the event slightly more interactive for festival goers too!


This year the Orléans Craft Beer Festival will run for two days—Friday, June 7 and Saturday, June 8. Come together to celebrate the spirit of community in craft beer.

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