What’s the most refreshing post exercise beverage? You guessed it – beer. And what better way to reward a long season of mountain biking, trail running, paddling or other form of recreation than by sampling dozens of craft beers?
This weekend (September 18-20) sees the return of the Whistler Village Beer Festival, probably my favourite Whistler event of the year. The 2015 Beerfest has now expanded to two days of the Main Event at Whistler Olympic Plaza, which should hopefully help all the disappointed souls who were left standing at the gates in the past, staring longingly through the fence at everyone else cheersing beers in tiny mugs.
Now that you’ve got your ticket to one of the the Main Event days, how do you get the most out of your beerfest experience?
While it’s easy to simply dive into the closest stall and start handing over tokens, the best way I’ve found not to overwhelm the palate (and liver) too early in the day is work my up from lighter, summery beers to the darker stronger ones later in the day. Start with more crisp, easy drinking (sometimes fruity) beers like wheat ales, hefeweizens, saisons, pilsners and lagers. These are generally lower in alcohol content too and are a great primer for the bolder beers.
From here is where I think beers start to get more interesting. Pale ales, amber ales, red ales, sour ales, dark lagers; these are all quite sessionable (ie drinkable for longer sessions) without the strong, overpowering flavours that can build up on the palate. This is a great time to start experiment by tasting different styles of lighter ales among the breweries. Mind that India Pale Ales (IPAs) and Belgian Pale Ales are considerably more hoppy and bitter and are in their own category.
At this point you’re probably feeling the effects and are willing to try some darker, more complex beers. Scotch ales are a favourite of mine to bridge the gap before I start going for the gamut of full hops with IPAs. English Brown Ales and Extra Special Bitter beers are also great options to expand the palate.
I usually reserve the last 60 to 90 minutes of the Main Event for the strongest and darkest beers. Hops from IPAs can clog the taste buds a bit, so I tend to shift between porters, IPA and stouts to make sure I don’t fatigue on the same type of beer. Right towards the end I closely watch the clock to allow sufficient time to tuck into the double and Imperial IPAs.
The weekend is looking like rain, so remember your Gore-Tex jacket and don’t let the sky water down your beer. Most importantly, drink responsibly at this year’s Whistler Village Beer Festival, during and after the Main Event.