Surviving the Whistler Village Beer Festival
In just a few short weeks, the Whistler Village Beer Festival returns to Olympic Plaza with 60 breweries and more than 120 craft beers. It’s easy to get lost in the sea of suds at the Main Event (September 17-18), to maximize your time on the grounds we present these tips to surviving the Whistler Village Beer Festival.
Plan Your Day
Just like music festival goers, beer enthusiasts will visit their favourite breweries first and foremost. With 60 breweries attending, the best way to prioritize beer tokens and time is to make a list of various beers and breweries and work your way through it. This can be important as some beers are extremely popular or end up being unexpected hits at the fest.
Pro Tip: Check in with the brewers about which beers are moving fast and which ones you can safely come back to later in the day.
Start Slow, Finish Strong
Noon can not come fast enough on the morning of the event, but give yourself the best chance of a full afternoon of beer sampling by prepping your stomach with a healthy portion of breakfast at one of Whistler’s best brunch locations.
Once on site, the best way to not overwhelm the palate (and the liver) too early in the day is to start with lighter, summery beers then work up to stronger and darker ones later in the afternoon. Begin with easier drinking (and sometimes fruity) brew varieties like wheat ale, hefeweizen, saison, pilsner and Kolsch. These all have relatively low alcohol content and serve as a great primer for bolder beers.
From here it starts to get a bit more interesting. Pale ales, red ales, sours, golden ales, dark lagers, the list goes on. This is where many new-found craft beer consumers like to experiment with new styles such as India Session Ales (ISA), which are similar to India Pale Ales (IPA) but toned down in both hoppy bitterness and alcohol content.
Towards the end of the afternoon it’s time to sample the darker and bolder varieties; IPAs, brown ales, stouts and porters. You’ll want to pace yourself here given the higher alcohol content, but strong beers are generally sippers anyway. Keep an eye on the clock to make sure you don’t leave with a pocket full of tokens. However, if you do have extras they are good currency next year!
Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to sample something completely out of your comfort zone. It’s only a 4 oz pour, so if it’s not a home run you’ll be on the next beer soon enough.
Keep the Party Going
Last pour will be at 4:45 p.m. and while you certainly don’t need to go home, everyone will need to vacate the grounds by 5 p.m. The good news is that there are plenty of options for food and drink in Whistler Village, so make sure grab a hearty meal before hitting the bars or clubs. If you’re looking for the best beer selection, check out A Beer Nerd’s Top Five Whistler Craft Beer Venues.
Pro Tip: Try to match your pace of beer drinking with an appropriate intake of food and water. Your head will thank you the next day.
You’re Doing It Wrong if:
- You try to sample every single tap at the Whistler Village Beer Festival. Please drink responsibly!
- You drink for four and a half hours straight without eating. Check out one of the food trucks for tasty eats!
- You intend to hydrate solely with beer. Don’t forget to drink water in between samples.
- You lambaste brewers to keep serving after last pour. They’re following the rules set by the licensing of the event, so should you.
- You intend to drink beer and drive home. Please organize a designated driver, use transit or stay the night in Whistler.
Avert a Crisis with These Tips:
- Don’t leave it to the last minute to line up for the wash rooms (there are plenty of Port-a-loos on site but people need to pee a lot, too)
- Bring cash. You don’t want to be held up with credit card transactions and ATM lines. Bring real currency and enjoy more time sipping and socializing
- Check the weather the morning of and dress accordingly. We all love sunshine but if the forecast is calling for rain, don’t leave home without your Gore-Tex.
With some smart pre-planning and beer drinking strategies, you can make sure that the most memorable part of the Whistler Village Beer Festival is everything but the hangover. See you at the fest.