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Whistler Craft Beer: Where to Quench Your Thirst in 2019

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The craft beer scene has been going off in British Columbia for over a decade now, and while the main event will always be in Vancouver, the fever is spreading up the Sea to Sky Corridor. Now Whistler, home to a surprising number of gourmet restaurants, is also home to a budding craft beer scene. Whistler craft beer is a growing local trend we are happy to go along with.

Beer lovers living in and traveling to this small resort town, rejoice! You can find some of the most delicious and locally brewed beers from Function Junction to the Upper Village. From high-end eateries to low brow bars, everyone loves Whistler craft beer. The local restaurants and liquor stores have all jumped on board, and it’s not unusual to see our local and provincial beers highlighted on menus across this small town of ours.

If you are looking for a murky pint of Budweiser, look somewhere else. This guide is not for those without a fully-formed beer palette. But you don’t need to be a skunky hop nerd to participate, in recent years many BC brewers have moved towards more crowd-pleasing beers, pilsners, ales, and sessionable brews represent the new wave of flavours.

Even if you are just getting into the craft beer scene, Whistler is a great place to start, simply because there is so much selection. Not to mention the Whistler Beer Festival. It’s surprising for many visitors to discover that there is literally a beer for everyone! 

Forged Favorite beers

Two Local Breweries to Visit

Whistler is a pretty small town, smaller if you consider the seasonal fluctuation of visitors. But, we love beer. We love it enough to support not one, but two different Breweries in town: Coast Mountain Brewing and Whistler Brewery. Both craft fine beers in house, and give tours around their facilities.

Coast Mountain tends to hit hard on flavour. Full of hops, sours, and seasonal experiments, there is always a novel new creation on tap. Whistler Brewery, which has been around for a decade or more, and has a tried and true rotation of favourites. With winter comes the Winter Dunkel, and in summer we always look forward to the Grapefruit Ale.

Where to Drink Craft Beer in Whistler

Locals, like us, know where to go to find the most selection and the newest hoppy releases – but do you? For anyone traveling to Whistler for the first time, or maybe you’ve just moved in for the season, where can you find Whistler craft beers? If there is one thing we have found out in preparation for this guide, there aren’t any quality guides on Whistler craft beer out there yet.

So for those looking to brush up on the newest whistler craft beers in town, where to drink them, and where to buy them – this one’s for you.

Hunter Gather 

Hunter Gather staff holding a plate

Hunter Gather makes a good sandwich, also a great stop for beers.

Specifically built for the local beer and foodie folks in our community, Hunter Gather is one of the newest local watering holes in town. Its menu is casual, heartwarming, and chock full of locally curated foods. Meats from ethical local farms, veggies from Pemberton, cheeses from Vancouver Island, you get the picture.

Does the Dippy Do Dat beef brisket an 18 Hour Smoked Dry Rubbed BC grass fed beef brisket, or Grant’s Family style farm platter (E-I-E-I-O) have your mouth watering yet? Vegetarians don’t fret; there are also vegetable-focused dishes on the menu.

Plus, Hunter Gather knows you’ll want to explore more than just their comfort food, check out the local beer menu, with an ever-fluctuating series of local breweries on tap. From the sunshine coast to the back streets of Vancouver, to Squamish and back, Hunter Gather has a few pints to quench your thirst.

Beacon Eatery and Pub

Centrally located, the beacon is a great pit stop after a day on the hill. Winter, Summer, Spring, Fall, it’s a place of action. In winter warm up with a dark winter ale and in summer quench your thirst with a session ale. The Beacon’s patio is welcoming place to watch the world go by, always made better with a beer in hand.

Their current beer menu, which switches as often as the seasons, covers Parallel 49 (Vancouver), Whistler Brewery (very local), and Driftwood Brewery (one of our favorites). Be sure to check back now and then to see what’s new on tap. Open from 11 am to 1 pm daily, they make it easy to come for brunch and stay until the party is over. Their menu incorporates the pub food you crave after getting in your turns on the hill.

The Brew House 

Whistler Brew House fro the outside

Located directly in the village, it makes a great starting or stopping point for local beer

You can’t get more local beer than the Brew House. The Brew House has five whistler craft beers brewed right on site. From their Lifty Lager to the Grizzly Brown Ale, throughout their time in Whistler, they’ve honed their craft. The Brew House knows what works, and what doesn’t and then brew accordingly.

The Brew House also know what the masses want to eat, including barbeque, pizza, and other pub-style Canadian classics.  They are an excellent local venue for sports fans, and people watchers alike. The atmosphere is friendly, televisions are plentiful, and they are centrally located.

Pizza Antico

If you assumed Italians only knew about wines, think again. Pizza Antico has a very impressive and rotating line up of local draughts, from right here in town to across this beer obsessed province. In fact, they often pair many of our favorite beers from here and afar with authentic Italian pizza. Who would have thought that beer and pizza paired so well? Wait… we would have thought that.

If you hit the full Carne pizza or the more refined Funghi, a beer pairing by the likes of Four Winds or Mission hill will almost certainly make it better. They are a more date night vibe than the Brew House, so put on your date night pants, and swipe right before reserving a table for two.

Where to Buy Craft Beer in Whistler 

Hop flowers

From hop forward, to laid back pilsners

For those new to BC, or even to Canada, the local liquor stores can be quite confusing. Although the laws are changing to accommodate more liberal liquor sales, there are really only two types of stores allowed to sell booze in BC. The first are the government-sanctioned BC Liquor stores, catering to the masses and with comparatively smaller beer selections than their private counterparts.

In recent years, we’ve noticed they’ve started to improve the craft beer selections (especially in places like Whistler), but still, it’s usually better to go to a private liquor store to get the real-deal craft beer selection you might be accustomed to.

The private liquor stores in Whistler are usually smaller than the government ones, but they specialize. Yes, maybe they won’t have every kind of vodka you need for a pre-party, but they know the niche market for beers and wines. Their staff are also extremely knowledgeable – ask them for their favorite new brew! You won’t be disappointed.

Because we’ve been around the blocks a few times, and bought a case of two, we know which of the privately owned liquor stores cater to the hop minded folks. Here are some of our top choices based on beer selection:

Blackcomb Liquor Store 

Blackcomb liquor store

Just a few local options at the Blackcomb Liquor Store….

If anyone has honed in on the local and carefully crafted liquor niche, its Blackcomb Liquor Store. Is it fermented, distilled, or brewed within the province? They are sure to know about it. Their focus is hyper-local, without losing out on selection. They currently have 300 different beers and 400 different wines to choose between.

If you are new to the BC craft booze scene, don’t be afraid to get some assistance. Ask one of their many friendly staff members for their top favorites from the shelves; you’ll likely be introduced to something deliciously new.

Nester’s Liquor Store

Do a little grocery shopping, a little craft beer shopping, or just stay home, because Nester’s delivers! Yes, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home to taste what the local beer scene has to offer.

One advantage to the Nesters Liquor store is that they proudly list all their product listings online. Beer, wines and more – you can check in advance if they have what you are thirsting after.  Their local craft beer selection is well-curated, with Fuggles and Warlock, Howe Sound, Moody Ales and more.

Don’t Forget About the Whistler Beer Festival 2019!

*Stay Tuned for Updates on Whistler Craft Beer Festival 2019. Below are some highlights from 2018

The Whistler Craft Beer Festival takes the local selection to entirely new heights. We were invited to attend with our Mobile Axe Throwing Trailer again this year, and let us tell you we had a time!  Despite the rain, the Whistler Craft Beer Festival got under way, and the axes were hitting the bullseyes. Throwing axes and sampling the dozens of beers from around the province is tough work, but we would do it again and again.

In 2018, the Whistler Beer Festival was six days covering all things hopped and malted. Music, live events, gourmet beer paired dinners, and of course the main event held in the Whistler Olympic Plaza –  two days of beer, on beer, on beer, sampling. One of the best parts is all participants get the chance to vote for their favourite pints, in one of the many categories including Best in Fest. In 2017 year top place went to Fuggles and Warlock, and again they stole the show in 2018. Pemberton Brewing Co. won the People’s Choice, and we couldn’t agree more!

Did You Say Brewery Tour? 

View of the Squamish howe sound

Canadian Craft Tours offer bonus add-ons for the Squamish beer Tours

If you are looking to make a day out of your beer drinking and brew exploration, why not go on a Sea-to-Sky brewery tour? Get a designated driver or jump on board an organized tour, and explore all the beers the Sea to Sky region has on offer. We are proud to see the local whistler craft beer scene exploding, especially when you consider how small the local population really is. We obviously love beer if we can support so many fresh breweries.