Opinion » The Outsider

The beer time of year



When I wrote the above headline, I had a sinking feeling that I'd committed the sin of fake news.

In actual fact, every time of year is the beer time of year. But with our annual celebration of brews in the mountains taking place next week, mid-September has a special place in the Whistler beer calendar. Namely, the Whistler Village Beer Festival (WVBF).

It was but five years ago when I sat down at a table at the Dubh Linn Gate—sipping a rather delicious white IPA—interviewing the festival's founding fathers Liam Peyton and Harrison Stoker. A beer festival for Whistler had been a pipe dream of these two gentlemen for years and with the support of Liam's employer at the time, Gibbons Hospitality Group, and the local community, they were finally seeing it come to fruition.

Both these fellas have since moved on to new opportunities (including Liam opening the spanking new Hatchery Brewing in Penticton next summer), but I occasionally run into them checking in on their "baby" in Whistler during the beer fest main event.

WVBF was a one-day affair back then, but a sell-out success year after year—despite rather rainy and bitterly cold weather wreaking havoc with event plans some years—led to the second day main event spillover (a treat for a lot of locals that have to work Saturdays) and growth of satellite events around town.

"If it keeps growing, we want to eventually expand into Lot 4 and install a pedestrian bridge, GranFondo style," I remember Liam saying through a straight face with aspirations of WVBF becoming one of B.C.'s premier beer festivals.

We haven't quite seen that level of expansion yet, but there's certainly no shortage of events and venue participation. I'm excited to see what food/beer pairings come out at Craft Cultures: Sea, Land and Sky (Wednesday, Sept. 12 at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre) and having tried to home brew with fruit for the first time recently, I can't wait to sample how the pros do it at Master Crafters Fruit Fight (Friday, Sept. 14 at Longhorn Saloon).

There's a bunch of other beer-themed parties throughout the week like beer and axe throwing, beer and yoga (still trying to understand that one) and a slew of tap takeovers at Whistler pub venues.

I love trying beers from all over B.C., Canada and even the States when we get the odd American brewery coming up for WVBF, but I always make sure to swing by our local Sea to Sky breweries to see what's up. Here's my picks from the Sea to Sky this season:

Whistler Brewing Company/Trailforks: Hazy Trail Pale Ale

A brew collab between Whistler's longest-running brewery and Pinkbike's trail navigation app Trailforks, this double dry hopped hazy pale is as crushable as it sounds. Also, every four pack of tall cans gives $1 back to local trail associations.

Coast Mountain Brewing: Juice Box Sour Wit

Cans of this delicious sour were selling like hotcakes this summer, but you can still find it on tap at a few pubs around town. Light, sessionable and not too sour, Juice Box hits all the summer notes.

High Mountain Brewing Company: 5 Rings IPA

Brewmaster Derrick Franche has been producing fresh beer at Whistler's Brewhouse for the last seven years and in that time has managed to pip Driftwood's heralded Fat Tug IPA at the BC Beer Awards with this hoppy creation. Only available at the Brewhouse, be sure to check on the latest seasonal.

Beer Farmers: Black Sheep Stout

A rich and tasty coffee stout brewed with Pemberton Valley Coffee Co. roasts. A warming brew for the cooler fall afternoons. More than worth the trip out to the meadows.

Pemberton Brewing Co.: Strawberry Pale Ale

A hazy North East-style pale with just enough B.C. strawberries and dry hopped with Citra and Cascade. Easy drinking and perfect after those dry and dusty Pemby rides.

Backcountry Brewing: Blew Out My Flip Flop Pina Colada Sour

The best beer names in the business and also some of the best beer. Generous amounts of pineapple complemented by toasted coconut, lightly soured. Try to drink just one.

A-Frame Brewing: Magic Lake Porter

Another fall favourite, this porter has notes of chocolate, mild caramel, light coffee and smoke. Great after rainy Squamish rides and hikes.

Howe Sound Brewing: Super Jupiter Mango ISA

Fruit and hops in moderation make this ISA an easy choice for summit celebrations or mid-bike-ride breaks. But if you're all about the hazy train, try the Hazy Daze North East IPA.

Happy beer fest to you and yours.

Vince Shuley is readying his liver. For questions, comments or suggestions for The Outsider email vince@vinceshuley.com or Instagram @whis_vince.