Being named the top brewery by 4,000 suds lovers at this month's Whistler Village Beer Festival is a major honour in its own right.
But getting to showcase your products at a handful of Whistler bars is an opportunity any B.C. craft brewer would kill for. Just ask East Vancouver's Parallel 49, who will be on tap at the Dubh Linn Gate, the Longhorn and the Beacon Pub for the next 12 months, along with the introduction of a bottle line at the GLC after being named the best of the fest.
For the East Van microbrewery that has expanded at a breakneck speed since launching in 2012, the chance to gain a foothold in the Whistler market is a welcome one, but it also means a lot more work for the company's Whistler rep.
"It's no longer (the rep) driving kegs up in his SUV once a week," said the brewery's marketing manager, Chris Bjerrisgaard, explaining that Parallel 49 typically delivers up to four kegs a week to local bars. Soon, that number will go up to 20.
"Logistically it's created some interesting challenges, but they're not unwanted ones."
For anyone even remotely in tune with B.C.'s thriving craft beer scene, it's hard not to notice Parallel 49. For one, they stand out from the crowd with vibrantly coloured packaging and playful labelling, but, more importantly, their award-winning beers speak for themselves.
The brewery brought its core brands to the festival, including its flagship Gypsy Tears Ruby Ale, the spicy seasonal Schadenfreude Pumpkin Oktoberfest, and its newest beer, the Filthy Dirty IPA, that won over many a libationist two weekends ago.
"It's not shy of alcohol at 7.2 per cent and it definitely has a hop blend that tends to lend to more tropical fruit flavours than your typical straight citrus grapefruit, like Red Racer's IPA, or your brew with a pine characteristic, which happens with Driftwood's IPA," said Bjerrisgaard. "It's one of our best launching new brands that we've done in a long time."
Now featured in several provinces and 31 U.S. states, Parallel 49 has no problem marketing itself to the masses, and that was clear throughout the event's four days, said Whistler Village Beer Festival producer Liam Peyton.
"The smarter breweries definitely found out how the system worked and explained it all to their friends and family and whatnot," he said of the festival's digital voting system that used a special Smartphone app. "Because some (breweries) didn't really care about votes, where other ones every single sample they were giving out, they were like, 'Oh, you like this beer? Sweet. Scan this code.'"
Along with increasing sales volume in the resort and raising Parallel 49's awareness to the multitudes of Whistler visitors each year, Bjerrisgaard said he also hopes to become a part of the community fabric.
"We're definitely going to sell a lot of beers up there because we have some accounts that aren't shy on selling beer... but we're also looking forward to doing events throughout the season and leveraging the fact that this is a pretty big deal. We want to embed ourselves within Whistler's culture."
Whistler Brewing Company took second place at the festival, and will take over an extra Tapley's tap and add a bottle line at the Amsterdam Pub. Chilliwack's Old Yale Brewery was voted third, and will have a draft at the Firerock Lounge and a bottle line at Dusty's.
The Whistler Village Beer Festival returns in 2015 from Sept. 17 to 20.
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