If you weren't already counting down the days until the second annual Whistler Village Beer Festival, some of the Sea to Sky's finest craft brewers are teaming up to give you a little taste of the event before it kicks off this September.
Festival producers Gibbons Hospitality Group has enlisted the services of Whistler Brewing Company and North Vancouver's Deep Cove Brewers to produce a limited-edition ale that is expected for distribution at private liquor stores throughout the corridor in late May, says event co-producer Harrison Stoker.
The beer will be an Indian Session Ale, a craft that's been growing in popularity throughout North America with the IPA-loving crowd, explains Deep Cove brewmaster Kevin Emm.
"A lot of consumers are finding they love the taste of the big and bold West Coast IPAs, like Fat Tug, and a lot of offerings from the States. The caveat is that with a six to eight per cent alcohol content, people are having a hard time walking in a straight line after two or three pints," says Emm. "(The ISA's) got the really appealing characteristics of an American IPA, but it comes at a lower alcohol content."
Emm says the beer will come in at about 4.5 per cent alcohol, with a pale amber to orange hue, and will have "a bold hop character, using Pacific Northwest hops" sourced from small scale producers Hooh Hops out of Lillooet.
"The beer is going to be very moreish," Emm says. "It's going to leave you wanting more after your first, second and third pint but without the problems of a seven per cent alcohol content."
The team will work over the coming weeks to perfect the recipe at Deep Cove's North Van brewery for the as-of-yet unnamed beer before bottles hit store shelves this spring. The release will be just in time for when the festival's early bird tickets go on sale June 5, and will give local libation lovers a little preview of what's to come.
"It's also a great excuse for the boys to get together and go down to the brewery and play around with some hops and barley. It's a little bit selfish I suppose, but it is for the greater good," says Stoker, who explained how the collaboration between Whistler Brewing Company and Deep Cove came to be.
"Gibbons Hospitality Group has a vested interest in Deep Cove Brewery, so right out of the gate that made sense, then the Whistler Brewing guys were so excited by it," he says. "The whole concept was to make a collaboration beer, so we thought 'Why don't we collaborate with more of our friends?'"
Stoker says the new beer will be competitively priced with other West Coast craft brews, and will be packaged in large 650ml bottles, adorned with artwork by Anya Werner, whose illustration promoting the festival appeared on Pique's cover last summer. But make sure all you hopheads out there stake your claim on the latest addition to B.C.'s thriving craft beer scene early, as there will only be between 1,000 and 1,600 bottles available while supplies last.
The Whistler Village Beer Festival runs from September 11 to 14 and will feature over 150 beers from 50 breweries. Visit www.wvbf.ca for more information.