Walk into the Raven Room on any given evening, and you’d be hard-pressed not to find at least a few candlelit tables full of locals laughing over B.C. craft brews or creatively concocted cocktails.
However, it’s not as often that you’d find an entire room of people enjoying both of those commodities in one simultaneous sip.
But that was exactly what happened last Wednesday night, Oct. 6, when the Whistler restaurant and cocktail bar hosted a “Battle of the Beer Cocktails,” one of several events taking place throughout the resort in October in celebration of Whistler Craft Beer Month.
The gist? Four local bartenders, each tasked with picking one B.C. craft beer and one B.C. craft spirit out of a hat, dreaming up a cocktail that incorporates both, and, a week later, offering up their creation to be judged by a fairly rowdy, packed (but overall very COVID-19 protocol adherent) house. Think of it like Chopped, but with fewer ingredients and more alcohol.
Raven Room bartender Dani Crowley capitalized on her home-turf advantage to claim victory (by a single vote!) with her peachy twist on a traditional gin sour. She earned the win by reducing Coast Mountain Brewing’s new Peach Blonde Sour Ale down to a syrup, combining it with Tofino Distillery’s Rose Hibiscus Gin and topping it with a homemade peach garnish. The drink’s not-so-secret ingredient, as Crowley told the crowd, was Aquafaba, better known to some as chickpea brine. For Crowley’s purposes, it functioned as a vegan alternative to egg whites in helping cultivate the perfect level of froth.
So far, the battle has been a highlight of Whistler Craft Beer Month for Coast Mountain Brewing sales rep Nicole Kishi—and not just because her brewery’s product helped earn top honours.
“It was fantastic to see such a strong female presence in those competing,” she explained. “Three of the four competitors were women!”
If you weren’t able to make it to the cocktail competition, there’s no need to stress: Whistler Craft Beer Month might be half over, but that means there’s two weeks’ worth of events and activities left to check out.
Originally conceptualized as a COVID-19-friendly alternative to the two-day tasting extravaganza that was the Whistler Village Beer Festival, the month-long festivities were brought back for the second year in a row by Gibbons Whistler, in partnership with Tourism Whistler, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, and BC Craft Beer Month.
Until Oct. 31, various venues around town have teamed up with B.C. breweries to host a range of events. And it’s not just food-and-beverage venues participating: in addition to more traditional beer brunches and tap takeovers, beer enthusiasts can earn their pints at “Sip N’ Stretch” yoga events at the Mountain Club, “Boulder & Beer” climbing at the Core or “BootyCamp and Beers” classes at Altitude Fitness. If you’re looking for a group activity that requires a little less, well, activity, grab at least two pals and head to the Four Seasons’ Braidwood Tavern, where an epic 14-beer tasting paddle highlighting Sea to Sky breweries is on offer. Or, take it down one notch further by relaxing with a beer-themed spa day at Nita Lake Lodge.
For Coast Mountain Brewing fans—or anyone who considers themselves a competitive beer drinker, for that matter—the Function Junction brewery is also hosting a month-long bingo game. Participants are invited to order a Coast Mountain beer at six local venues throughout the month (Tapleys, RMU, Stinky’s, Fitzsimmons Pub, the Beacon and Hunter Gather), and collect a bingo sticker on each occasion. Stop by Coast’s tap house with a completed bingo card by the end of the month to redeem a pint and a raffle ticket, accompanied by a chance to win a custom Coast Mountain Brewing top sheet Prior Snowboard.
“We wanted our event/activity to encourage participants to not only visit and support our brewery but other awesome establishments around town as well,” Kishi explained. “It’s been really great so far and we’re stoked to be collaborating with other awesome businesses in this beautiful town … It’s great that we can all work together to encourage our locals and tourists to support our local businesses.”
For boutique breweries like Coast Mountain, community-driven events like Whistler Craft Beer Month are an invaluable opportunity to not only highlight their creations, but to deepen those all-important local connections, said Kishi.
“It’s the support from our locals that keeps the stoke levels high and drives us to continue creating and making great beer,” she explained. “We make the best quality beer that we possibly can. It’s fantastic that beer-specific events in Whistler can help showcase our product and introduce Coast Mountain to those who haven’t heard of us before.”