Beer and food pairings are increasingly popular here in B.C., as sold-out events like Uli’s beer-pairing dinners in White Rock or the Smuggler’s Trail Brewmaster Dinners in Langley demonstrate. But beer goes with so many other things–including hiking!
B.C. is known for its beautiful peaks and valleys, and its residents are known for their willingness to trek through sun, rain, snow, and sleet to get in a good workout and a great view. Why not combine the strengths of this province by exploring its trails then rewarding yourself with a B.C. craft beer? With the help of my hiking partners (usually my husband), I’ve done some of the legwork for you–here are some suggestions for B.C. hikes that go well with some select B.C. craft beers. Check some of these out this summer!
Ascent Trail (Whistler/Blackcomb) and Field Theory Saison (Dageraad Brewing, Burnaby)
Whistler’s Ascent Trail is divided into 3 sections–Little Burn, Big Burn, and Heart Burn, and they get harder as you go up. We made it through the first two Burns before deciding to enjoy the view and ride the gondola back down the mountain. Field Theory, a low ABV dry-hopped table saison, is a refreshing beer after such a hike, with herbaceous and peppery notes, and a sparkling carbonation.
The Abby Grind (Mt. Taggart, Abbotsford) and Gold Sour (Field House Brewing, Abbotsford)
The Abby Grind is shorter than its more famous cousin, the Grouse Grind, but equally tough and much less crowded. Enjoy a view of the valley from the lookout point after the 2 kilometre grind, or continue for another 3 kilometres to the top of Mt Taggart. Field House’s Gold Sour, lightly tart with notes of peach and apricot, is a delicious and beautifully coloured Abbotsford beer to accompany the Abbotsford views you’ll get from the lookout.
Teapot Hill (Chilliwack) and Lavender Earl Grey ESB (Foamer’s Folly Brewing, Pitt Meadows)
Teapot Hill will get your heart pumping, but is still doable for younger kids. The first half of the trail is a wide uphill flat path, and the second half is a mild grind-style trail to a viewpoint overlooking Cultus Lake. Teapots and teacups are hidden in the foliage throughout the grind, and it’s fun to look for them as you hike – especially if you’re hiking with kids. I chose the tea-themed Foamer’s Folly’s Lavender Earl Grey ESB for this teapot-themed hike. If you haven’t tried it, go out there and find it–it’s a delicious bitter with just the right balance of lavender and bergamot flavours.
Mount Finlayson (Victoria) and Lighthouse Lager (Lighthouse Brewing, Victoria)
This hike takes you through the temperate rainforest of Mt. Finlayson in Goldstream Park before twisting up and over the summit. The last quarter of the trail is part hike, part scrabble, and might be very difficult with young children. Sturdy hiking boots are strongly recommended! From the top you have a 360-degree view of the greater Victoria region and the ocean. Bring along a can of Lighthouse Lager to refresh yourself–a clean, slightly sweet lager made by Victoria’s Lighthouse Brewing.
Giant’s Head Mountain (Summerland) and Giant’s Head Blonde Ale (Giant’s Head Brewing, Summerland)
Giant’s Head is one of the most well-known landmarks in the south Okanagan. To get a great workout, park at the bottom (on Milne Road) and take the 2.6 km trail up – part narrow road, part trail. If you can’t do the full hike, you can drive most of the way up the mountain then make the short walk to the summit. The views of the Okanagan Valley from the top are worth it! And a perfect conclusion to this sweat-inducing hike is a refreshing Blonde Ale by Summerland’s Giant’s Head Brewing.
Paul’s Tomb Trail (Kelowna) and The Tomb Stout or Lady of the Lake Lager (Red Bird Brewing, Kelowna)
For those who prefer a more relaxing hike, Paul’s Tomb Trail in Kelowna is a great option–and it also links to some of the more challenging trails around Knox Mountain. Although the trail is fairly long–nearly 5K–it runs alongside the shores of Okanagan Lake and is mostly flat and well-maintained. You’ll pass by the Paul family tomb at one end and enjoy views of the lake throughout. My suggested beers come from Red Bird Brewing in Kelowna, which produces a stout in honour of this area (Paul’s Tomb Stout), as well as a Lady of the Lake lager, which is perfect for this lakeside stroll. A stout might not be appealing after some of the tougher trails I’ve suggested, but this hike won’t leave you sweaty and breathless–so a stout might be just the thing to enjoy after you’ve finished.
Whatever hike you decide upon, remember your water bottle, your hiking boots, and your camera. Drink responsibly, hike responsibly, and enjoy what B.C. has to offer!