BC’s mountain resorts have a lot going for them, but slope-side options for craft beer are often pretty slim. Thankfully, some of the province’s best craft breweries are located just a short drive down the road from your winter destination of choice. So, put in a bit of effort and seek out these superior breweries – because life is too short for bad beer.
Located in the historic former mining town of Cumberland, at the base of the Mount Washington, Cumberland Brewing has been putting out consistently awesome beer since its opening in 2014. The man behind the beer is the immensely talented Mike Tymchuk, who has some serious craft-beer cred; Tymchuk co-founded Calgary’s Wild Rose Brewery and was the former brewmaster at Spinnakers in Victoria.
The brewery itself is a great place to drain a flight, and the pizza, made by Rider’s Pizza across the street and walked over, is the perfect refuel after a long day on the slopes.
You should try: Czech Pilsner. Tymchuk only rolls out this crisp, refreshing winner once a year, so grab a pint while you’re able.
On your way through Kamloops to and from Sun Peaks Resort, make sure you give yourself enough time to stop in at Red Collar and see what owner and brewmaster David Beardsell is up to. As you’ll discover, what he’s up to is making incredible European-inspired beers.
You should try: Black Dog Quad. At 11.7%, this Belgian-style strong ale is sure to warm your bones.
This roadhouse-themed brewery is just down the road from Panorama ski resort in Invermere, nestled in the shadow of the Rockies. That oh-so-hip stark minimalism of the big city craft brewery doesn’t fly out here, and Arrowhead’s tasting room is appropriately unpretentious and lots of kitschy fun, not unlike the beer. The selection runs the gamut from pedestrian lagers to hop-laden double IPAs, and is clearly designed with the locals in mind, no doubt with the aim of turning them into craft beer connoisseurs (which has largely been successful). There’s no food, but the organic pepperoni will stave off your hunger, for a little while, at least.
You should try: Doc Tegart’s ESB. At 6.5% and 60 IBUs, it’s stronger and hoppier than traditional extra special bitters, with gobs of tropical fruit and citrus on the nose.
When you’re done shredding Fernie’s five legendary bowls, treat yourself to some of the fine beers being produced by the mighty Fernie Brewing Co. Fernie’s new brewmaster, Jeff Demaniuk, is picking up where his father before him left off, offering a wide and varied selection of beers and styles. Your beer money is going to good use, too, as Fernie donates the proceeds from its sample flights to local charitable groups and non-profits.
Also, if you’re on the fence about making the trip (it’s a 10-and-a-half-hour drive, after all), consider that Fernie was the filming location for perhaps the greatest film of our time, Hot Tub Time Machine.
You should try: Java the Hut. Start your day off with this milk stout brewed with coffee from Crowsnest Roasters.
The fourth annual edition of this craft beer tradition returns to Apex Mountain Resort Feb. 18. More than 20 craft breweries, cideries and distilleries will be setting up in the infamous Gunbarrel Saloon, one of the best ski bars anywhere. This event sells out every year, so if you’re interested, get on it.
You should try: A little bit of everything! Because that’s what beer festivals are all about.