Whistler Beer Festival 2018 recap: it’s more than a cold brew

Whistler Beer Festival 2018, September 11-16, 2018

Whistler used to be about skiing and very little else for much of the 52 years it has been in existence. It is well known that that is simply no longer the case. Skiers and snowboarders flock to the twin mountains in the winter, and mountain bikers are equally eager to visit in the summer.

What has been extraordinary is the amount of events that have popped up outside of the peak season. From a yoga festival to a local music event, to the famed culinary event Cornucopia and a world class film festival. Now the Whistler Village Beer Festival appears to be an annual event that is here for the long haul.

This year’s sixth edition began on Tuesday, Sept 11, and ran through the weekend. Highlights included signature event ‘Craft Cultures: Sea, Land, Sky’ in the breathtaking halls of Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre for an evening complete with snacks, beer, live music, and entertainment. Revelers on a Whistler Wednesday night truly enjoyed the food, entertainment and endless beer and cider provided by Fernie Brewing, Old Yale Brewing, Red Racer Brewing, Coast Mountain Brewing, as well as cider provided by Wards Hard Apple Cider.

A favourite site of the week was a huge old war canoe on the disco floor, filled with Gibbons own lager. Not the tastiest beer, but it certainly deserves points for presentation.

Friday’s ‘Master Crafters: Fruit Fight’ was a familiar evening where guzzlers were entrusted to vote blindly on their favourite fruit-heavy beer. There were melon, blueberries, raspberries and more in the goses, sours and IPAs. The Sour Bastard was memorable, but it was an event for the adventurous.

Reaction was mixed as the event organizers held it in their own venue and instead of an exclusive festival-goer only event. Patrons milled with the regular Friday night crowd and the thumping tunes at the Longhorn Saloon. It didn’t quite feel like a beer event where tasters compare notes and meet new friends. Nevertheless, Whistler’s own Coast Mountain Fruit Snack took home the top prize.

The main event in the majestic Olympic Plaza held on a wet Saturday and Sunday was enjoyed by a record number of beer enthusiasts: 4,400. The precipitation did not dampen the mood. Live music, including a Hip cover band, attracted large numbers and there were manageable lineups at many of the stands from 70 breweries.

Once again Richmond’s Fuggles & Warlock took home the ‘Best in Fest’ that comes with the additional perk of featured presence for the next year in Whistler, as did Pemberton Brewing Co. and Whistler’s Coast Mountain.

The Vancouver Weekly crew attending singled out the Peach Fuzz Milkshake IPA from North Vancouver’s Bridge Brewing and Fernie Brewing’s Hit the Deck Hazy IPA. See you all next year.