There’s no denying there’s always been tension between skiers and snowboarders. While the battle is far more civil today, are there still lingering feelings of animosity from a decades-long war between the two? Do they differ in their favourite way to après, or can they come together over a crisp, refreshing beer? These are the questions I set out to answer.
First, a brief history…
Prior to the onset of snowboarding, slopes were dominated by high-class, elitist skiers who après-ed next to charcuterie boards while drinking only the finest of champagne. That was until snowboarding came along back in the 1970’s, when a young revolutionary from Vermont named Jake Burton decided to make two planks one.
Popularized by a counter-culturalist crowd of rowdy, beer-drinking youth, boarding was promptly banned from nearly all ski hills. Fast-forward to today, and snowboarding is not only in the Olympics, but skiers and boarders are seen harmoniously sharing slopes all over the world. But while the war certainly has eased in recent decades, a subtle division between the two sports lives on. That’s why I made it my quest to discover if a crisp après pint can bring skiers and snowboarders together, once and for all.
First stop: Revelstoke (Kootenay Rockies East Ale Trail)
My quest began in Revelstoke – a town renowned for champagne powder, gnarly terrain, and great craft beer. To get some intel on whether or not snowboarders and skiers can unite over an appreciation for good craft beer, I chatted with employees from Mt. Begbie Brewing Co: folks who are just as passionate about shredding, as they are about beer. To kick things off, I sat down with brewer and die-hard skier, Brett Coombes.
Soranne: So Brett, being a skier, do you think a war still exists between the two crowds?
Brett: It has mellowed out which is unfortunate. I do my best to keep the animosity alive… hurling insults at snowboarders is a tradition as old as snowboarding itself!
Soranne: All those insults must work up a thirst! What’s your go-to après beer?
Brett: Darkside of the Stoke – a good oatmeal coffee stout will set you right up for a lengthy après session after skipping lunch…
Soranne: And where’s that best enjoyed?
Brett: A shower beer never disappoints to start the proceedings…
Soranne: Can’t argue with that! So, if you had to pick a beer to represent snowboarders, which would it be?
Brett: Revelstoke Lager. It takes so long to be ready…
Soranne: What about skiers?
Brett: Begbie Cream Ale. The original and the best…
Soranne: Regardless of whether you’re on one plank or two, why do you think snow sports and beer go so well together?
Brett: All jokes aside, any snow sport and beer go so well together because it’s all about getting outside with your family and friends, meeting new people, and forgetting about life’s problems. Visit as many ski towns as you can, get out and support the local breweries, restaurants and cafes and most importantly, have some fun!
As insightful as that was, I couldn’t leave without hearing from skier and snowboarder, Darryn Shewchuk, Mt.Begbie Brewing Co.’s Director of Sales and Marketing, as well as their Office Manager and snowboarder, Dallas Moore.
Soranne: Do you still think there’s an ongoing war between boarders and skiers?
Dallas: I don’t think so. I feel like people are just stoked to be out there, and you find more groups of both skiers and boarders now. If anything, [the war is] more jokes between friends.
Darryn: Not much that I’ve seen. Most groups are a mix these days. 20 years ago, you were in one group or the other. That being said I think [some of our employees] still complain about snowboarders.
Soranne: So would you say boarding and skiing go great with beer?
Darryn: Skiing and boarding both make you thirsty for something crisp and not sweet. Beer is perfect. Beer and skiing or boarding go hand in hand like peanut butter and jam.
Soranne: Speaking of beer, if snowboarders were a Mt.Begbie brew, which would they be?
Dallas: Brave Liver Scotch Ale because it’s strong and so good!
Darryn: Stoked Winter Ale because of the word “Stoked” and because it’s a Winter Ale.
Soranne: And what about skiers?
Dallas: Revelstoke Lager because they like easy things…
Darryn: High Country Kolsch as it is a light refreshing brew to have after a long ski tour up Rogers Pass (the high country).
Soranne: Lastly, what’s your go-to après beer?
Dallas: Tall Timber Brown Ale – perfect for winter! Best enjoyed as a parking lot beer before heading home, then a beer in the bathtub.
Darryn: One or two Easy Hopper Hazy Pale Ales refresh me. Then Night in the Monashees Imperial Stout as a sipper after that. Hot tub with the Easy Hopper, then by the fireplace with a Night in the Monashees.
Onwards to Rossland (Kootenay Rockies West Ale Trail)
Having gotten the picture over in Revelstoke, I continued my journey in Rossland. A short drive from both Whitewater Ski Resort and Red Mountain, Rossland is surrounded by wicked slopes, great touring, and of course, delicious craft beer. In other words, the perfect place to continue my search. To help me in my pursuit, I sat down with Ryan Arnaud, Head Brewer and Owner of Rossland Beer Co.
Soranne: First thing’s first: Do you ski or snowboard?
Ryan: I do both, but ultimately ended up skiing to further my former career as a professional ski patroller at Panorama Mountain Resort.
Soranne: Ah, a skier by trade. Though I’m sure you hold a special place in your heart for both, do you think a little animosity still exists between skiing and boarding?
Soranne: Hard to believe there are still skiers-only resorts. Let’s lighten things up and talk beer. If snowboarders were a Rossland Beer Co brew, which would they be?
Ryan: Probably a nice crisp adventurous and flavorful West Coast IPA because of that true effervescent style of snowboarding.
Soranne: What about skiers?
Ryan: Without a doubt, a safe easy-drinking classic Amber Ale given that old school nature of skiing.
Soranne: Regardless of whether you’re a skier or boarder, why do you think snow sports and beer go so good together?
Ryan: Snow sports have never been for the faint of heart. But that being said, riding the hill with your best buds and enjoying the outdoors calls for good beer.
Soranne: And with that, what’s your favourite way to après?
Ryan: When I’m not brewing beer or smashing powder with my two boys on the magic carpet, you can find me posted up in my hot tub for après, beer in hand.
Soranne: Which beer would that be?
Ryan: Definitely our Green Jacket Pale Ale. It just hits all the notes for me day in, day out.
Circling back in Fernie (Kootenay Rockies East Ale Trail)
My journey wrapped up in Fernie, a quaint mountain town in South-East BC, where everyone lives in beanies, drinks Fernie Brewing Co., and shreds more than they work. To help me get some answers, I had a chat with one of Fernie Brewing’s brewers, snowboarder Pauly Roberts.
Soranne: As a snowboarder, do you think there’s any lingering animosity left between skiers and snowboarders?
Pauly: I think there’s definitely some trash talking done between both sides, for sure. But on this hill in Fernie, skiers help snowboarders get places. So while they still do some stuff that would annoy anybody, I think it’s a two-way road.
Soranne: Ah, nothing like helping snowboarders across those infamous traverses! If you snowboarders were a beer, which would they be?
Pauly: I guess a snowboarder would have to be Lone Wolf IPA for me, just because snowboarders have fought the current of time – they’ve always been the underdog.
Soranne: What about skiers?
Pauly: Skiers I think would be our Dark Horse Black Currant Sour – usually they’re a bit more sophisticated and fine-tuned. A little bit more finicky.
Soranne: Now let’s forget the war, and just talk about good beer. What’s your favourite après beverage?
Pauly: I’m probably going to go with Lone Wolf IPA, just because it’s one of our longest staying IPA, and I’m an IPA guy. Plus, usually when I’m riding it’s kinda Lone Wolf style – I’m flying solo.
Soranne: Where’s your favourite place to enjoy that beer?
Pauly: It’s usually best enjoyed around other people that had a great day at the hill. Even if I ride solo, I can talk to anyone at the bar. So yeah, usually at the bar, or in front of the fire with a couple buddies.
Soranne: Snow sports and beer really are a Match Made in Hoppy Heaven. Why do you think they go so well together?
Pauly: They go hand in hand with people participating in them. Usually, people are skiing or snowboarding because they love it. And usually, they’re drinking good craft beer because they love it.