The craft beer scene in Whistler is evolving and becoming a popular destination for “beercationers.”
One of BC’s best craft beer festivals is the Whistler Village Beer Festival, which this year spanned four days with the main festival on Saturday and Sunday, along with several satellite events around town all week. Despite some rain (except, luckily, for most of the actual festival) spirits were high, the beers were fantastic, and the addition of all day long, live music made it as it should be – festive!
This world-famous ski resort village has been home to the Whistler Brewing Co. and the BrewHouse for a while, but now visitors have a third craft beer option to check out. Coast Mountain Brewing, located in Whistler’s Function Junction, just opened its doors on August 31, 2016 and it’s been full steam ahead since then. I caught up with Kevin Winter, co-owner and brewer, at Whistler Village Beer Festival where he was pouring his Fire Steel Red Ale and Woodnutt Brown Ale, and craft beer fans were eagerly lining up to get their first tastes from the new brewery. Both beers were delicious and festival goers agreed – they crowned Coast Mountain “Best in Fest” for 2016!
Along with his wife and business partner, Angie, Kevin started home brewing around 2009 and it took off from there. Next up, scrubbing tanks and washing floors at Whistler Brewing while Angie worked three jobs herself, their dreams fuelling their hard work. Mission Springs Brewing Co. was their next opportunity, with the task of turning a then-fledgling brewpub into a packaging brewery. After some schooling at the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago, they poured a ton of passion into revamping the brewery with new equipment and creating new (including some award-winning) recipes. This effort and experience was the catalyst for what was to become Coast Mountain Brewing, and it was time to head home to Whistler.
The brewhouse was designed and fabricated by newly opened Simplified Stainless Systems in Maple Ridge. Winter says, “We built a 17-hectolitre system on steroids. We wanted to oversize the brewhouse in order to allow us to grow and give us the opportunity to brew some high-gravity beers like barleywines, some of the bigger Belgians, double IPAs, etc.”
The tasting room is rustic and cosy, warm and inviting, just as Kevin and Angie designed it to be. On the day I visited they had four of their own beers on tap (with three more in the tanks and nearly ready) along with two guest taps and wine. Coast Mountain is open seven days a week for sampling and growler fills. Kevin explained that the immediate goal is almost “hyper local,” as they’d like to find their balance at home in Whistler before any future growth: “Simply said, we love what we do and we love sharing the very best and most memorable beers with family and friends.”