Patrons enjoying the Whistler Village Beer Festival at Olympic Plaza.

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Last summer, Liam Peyton wanted a challenge and Joey Gibbons was determined to find it for him. In June 2013 Peyton became event manager at Gibbons Life, a new, non-profit offshoot of the Gibbons Hospitality Group, and in just three months he channeled his passion for great beer and our mountains into the inaugural sell-out Whistler Village Beer Festival.

Gibbons Life saw a perfect opportunity to celebrate the burgeoning craft beer trend and bring brewers and beer lovers together for a few days of grain-fuelled fun. There’s no stopping Peyton now — in its second year, the event has enjoyed a stout growth, more than doubling in size.

Bringin’ it (the best brews, that is)

Peyton is bringing in over 200 beers from big players in the brewery world from B.C., Washington, Oregon, Colorado, California, New York and even Europe. His strategy to get them here is simple: make this every brewer’s favourite festival and get these guys champing at the bit to attend.

To get buy-in from craft beer connoisseurs, Peyton proudly showcases our amazing mountain home and offers a lucrative business opportunity in the form of “Best in Fest” which awards top-placing breweries with draught contracts at venues in Whistler. This is a foot in the bar (so to speak) for hop heads to get their craft beer into key establishments and provides a strong incentive for brewers to bring their very best.

So much more than the main event

This sudsy September festival has expanded in a big way during a time of year that would typically be quieter for businesses around the resort. Instead, the festival is delivering more events that span four days from Sept 11 – 14. These range from cask nights to seminars and industry events. This year Peyton is tasking the attending breweries to be creative and bring the best they have because this is their chance to show a growing market what they’ve got. In addition to partnering with local establishments for events, they’re also expanding their food voucher program working with local restaurants where festival-goers can get $5 off, encouraging them to explore our community. Creating a festival that benefits our community is something Peyton is proud of.

Crafting a craft beer brand

Visit and you’ll encounter a visual treat that sets the tone for a lively, local festival amongst friends. A lot of beer, sweat and tears went into creating this look and feel. Coming off a successful first year they focused heavily on branding, and took time to perfect the design of their logo and website. It was important to incorporate the mountains, but still be on trend with what was happening design-wise in the craft beer market. They partnered with two local graphic designers, Harrison Stocker and Anja Werner from the Built Brave team, and the result is a beautiful thing.

Peyton on creating the fastest growing festival in Whistler:

“The festival is a celebration of all things beer. It’s built on passion and we’re proud to share that with the world whilst benefiting our community.”

Make business easy – tune in to The Big Idea, a new bi-weekly column from the Whistler Chamber of Commerce showcasing a Whistler business innovating in their sector.

© Whistler Question

Brittia Thompson