Two of the Pacific Northwest's finest breweries are invading Whistler this week for the HandleBar Café and Après' Tap Takeover.
On Thursday, March 30, the Upper Village pub will hand over its taps to the fine folks of Delta's Four Winds Brewing Co. and Portland, Oregon's Breakside Brewery.
"This is about bringing the best possible beer to people and proving that beer culture is alive and well in Whistler," said HandleBar GM Nick Dobson.
Since opening in November, HandleBar has strived to stand out from Whistler's crowded après scene with its menu of German-inspired street food and rotating list of regional and international craft brews, distinct from the "middle-of-the-road" beers most local haunts serve, Dobson said. The owners are doubling down on that commitment Thursday night with four offerings from each renowned brewery that should have beer nerds chomping at the bit. Four Winds will be pouring their Sour Weisse, Featherweight IPA, Elementary Lager and Nectarous, while Breakside will be bringing its Lunch Break ISA, Salted Caramel Stout, Wanderlust IPA and Pilsner over the border.
Four Winds brewmaster and co-owner Brent Mills highlighted the Berlin-style Sour Weisse, a tartly refreshing wheat beer that is only available seasonally, as one in particular for beer lovers to look out for.
"The Sour Weisse is something that's pretty fun for us," he said. "It's really an easy-drinking, summer-patio beer."
Going head to head with one of Portland's most beloved brewers isn't bringing out the competitive spirit for Mills. In fact, the Delta brewer said he's honoured to pour alongside founder Scott Lawrence. (Lawrence could not be reached by deadline.)
"They're one of the best in North America right now," Mills added.
Two-time Brewery of the Year winners at the Oregon Beer Awards, Breakside has managed to carve quite the niche for itself in Portland's hypercompetitive craft-beer scene. It gained attention soon after opening in 2010 for its boldly innovative brews that pushed the boundaries of what craft beer could be, experimenting with non-conventional flavours and ingredients.
It's a similar tact that has turned Four Winds into a perennial star of B.C.'s ongoing craft-beer boom.
"We're kind of obsessed with quality. If we're not happy with something, we just don't release it," Mills said. Having a background in the culinary world has evidently helped, too.
"Myself and the head brewer have a history of working in kitchens, so we have a lot of experience with flavour and flavour combinations," Mills added. "We have discerning palates from working in kitchens."
Although Oregon has in many ways led the charge on the past decade's rise in craft beer, British Columbia hasn't been all that far behind.
"I think the way the scene exploded in Oregon maybe 10 years ago is happening here now," Mills explained. "Since we opened Four Winds in 2013, like 70 breweries have opened in B.C., and they saw that kind of growth in Oregon and Portland about seven, eight years ago. We're mirroring that now — we're a little bit behind but we're right on pace."
HandleBar's Tap Takeover starts at 5:30 p.m. and runs until close — or at least until the beer runs out.