Crafting beer excellence at the Whistler Village Beer Festival.

Attendees can sample high-quality craft beers from 45 regional and international brewers Saturday (Sept. 14) at Olympic Plaza

If one is to believe the late, great doctor of gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson, who once said “Good people drink good beer,” Whistlerites can be proud of their evident status as upstanding moral citizens.

If you needed any more proof of the resort’s penchant for the best brews around, look no further than the inaugural Whistler Village Beer Festival, which brings 45 of the best brewers to Olympic Plaza for one day only, where over 100 different individual beers will be on tap. And while there will be a smattering of international brews available, the goal of the fest is to showcase some of the amazing craft beers being produced right in our own backyard.

“We’ve probably got some of the best (beer) in the continent in this area,” said event organizer Liam Peyton. “We get the best, freshest ingredients with our hops and barley and the beer we produce out here gets exported worldwide. It’s kind of the birthplace of the beer Renaissance in the last 20 years. The craft beer revolution is from this area, and we wanted to bring it up to Whistler.”

For the price of admission, thirsty attendees will get a 4oz. mug to try up to five different beers, but if that doesn’t wet their whistles additional tasting tickets will be available for purchase at $1.50 each. Beer buffs can then vote for their favourite brew, and the winning libation will be served at a handful of Village bars over the next year, giving smaller regional breweries the chance to showcase their products to millions of potential new drinkers.

North Vancouver’s Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers will be one of the regional producers looking to make a name for themselves at the first ever Whistler festival. Less than a month after opening for business, founder Shae De Jaray is hoping Whistlerites will uncover their taste for delicious, high-quality craft beers that have been exploding in popularity throughout the Pacific Northwest in the last few years.

“We’re able to showcase all these amazing B.C. breweries to the locals (in Whistler) that I don’t think has really happened yet,” he said. “It’s going to give them a great opportunity to try things, but also educate them and give them an opportunity to find out what they like in beer. There’re so many different flavours you can pull out and every one’s got a unique taste to it, so it’s going to be really fascinating to see essentially a whole city being introduced to a whole bunch of new beers. If anything, it’s going to push more people into craving and demanding craft beers.”

De Jaray will be bringing along Deep Cove’s three core year-round beers: the citrus-infused Wise Crack West Coast Lager, the balanced Loud Mouth Pale Ale, with its hint of caramel blending perfectly with a little English-style bitterness, as well as the silky smooth Quick Wit Wheat Ale made with coriander and bittered orange peel. On top of that, De Jaray wanted to offer something a little special for the festival, and will be serving Deep Cove’s seasonal Green Rooibos Tea Saison brew that is likely to surprise even the most seasoned of beer connoisseurs.

“A saison recipe uses a type of yeast that’s similar to a wheat yeast, but it brings a little bit more of a tart, peppery character to it,” De Jaray said. “We’ve steeped our own Green Rooibos tea into the beer itself, and it’s given it a really nice fruity character. It’s got a bit of a mango, a bit of a peach character coming through, and it’s got that really interesting sweet and tart harmony.”

Function Junction’s Whistler Brewing Company will be playing a vital role in this year’s fest, not only as a major event sponsor but also as the resort’s sole sudsy representative. Along with their regular roster of in-demand beers, general manager of operations Colin Pyne said they’ll be pouring a variation of Whistler Brewing Company’s award-winning Black Tusk Ale, made specially for the festival. The cask keg brew will have a slightly higher alcohol content to it, along with a stronger note of espresso, and a touch of vanilla, rounded out with a nice crisp finish thanks to locally-grown cascade hops, he said.

With the Pacific Northwest’s reputation for world-class craft beers growing at an astounding rate, Pyne said the average B.C. beer lover is as knowledgeable as ever, and starting to gravitate more towards high-quality, meticulously-brewed products over the cookie-cutter lagers of old.

“Because of the different components of beer, you’ve got a bitterness component, there’re a lot of different hops you can add, different malts, different yeast strains, different brewing methods, so you come out with different finished products. The public’s become more receptive to this, and they like their funky craft beers as opposed to the straight-old mass-produced lagers our parents and grandparents have been drinking,” he said.

“Everyone has different taste buds and preferences, and the good thing about beer is there’s enough different varieties to satisfy all their palates.”

The Whistler Village Beer Festival runs Saturday (Sept. 14) from 1 to 5:30 p.m. in Olympic Plaza. Tickets are $35, and include a novelty mug, five beer tokens and a $10 food voucher. Visit here to purchase tickets and see a full list of events.

— by Brandon Barrett

Brittia Thompson