The best ski town brews, tasting rooms and distilleries in BC

There’s one thing every skier and snowboarder wants after a big day on the mountain – a beverage. Preferably a refreshingly cold one, served up on a mountainside patio, under a heater and the remnants of a bluebird sky; or a delicious spirit mixed up over ice and savored by the fire.

British Columbia may be known for its incredible skiing, but it’s also home to some of the best independent breweries and distilleries using locally sourced components and mountain spring water to create authentic BC flavours.

Bookmark this list, book your flights, and get ready for some of the best après drinks of your life.

Whistler Brewing Co.

It’s hard to go past a brewery that’s been around for 30 years and remains proudly BC owned and BC brewed. The guys at Whistler Brewing Co. put so much thought into everything they do – from brewing everything manually to donating money to local trail associations with every sale of their classic Hazy Trail Pale Ale brew.

The brewery is located in Function Junction, just south of Whistler Village. Find tastings, fully guided tours, live music on Fridays and a food menu specially designed to soak up all that beer, including warm pretzels, a beer cheese soup and even a good old Aussie pie. And with Whistler Blackcomb a short drive away, it’s easy to get there after a day on the slopes.

As for our pick of the beers? Go for the Bear Paw Honey Lager for a brew that’s made with 100% delicious BC honey; try the Black Tusk Ale, which offers up coffee and cocoa notes along with a very Instagram-worthy can; or pick up the gluten-free Forager for your gluten-intolerant friend.

Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery

 
 
 
 
 
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If you’re heading to SilverStar Mountain Resort or Big White Ski Resort next winter, stop by the towns of Vernon or Kelowna and drop in to see the Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery team at either of their two distilleries.

Family-owned and much-loved by the locals, they produce a range of spirits, from whiskeys to vodkas, gins, liqueurs and brandies – and they also happen to be Western Canada’s oldest craft distillery.

Holidaying with a crew that’s particularly fond of a tipple after skiing? Pick up a bottle of their absinthe, which happens to be the first genuine one ever brewed and sold in Canada. In 2007, the Okanagan Spirits team decided to make this once-banned spirit using traditional recipes from the 19th century. The result is an award-winning, licorice-inspired drink that just happens to be 60% alcohol. Look out!

Whitetooth Brewing

 
 
 
 
 
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Planned a ski trip to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort for the upcoming season? You’re going to need some seriously good beers to celebrate tackling those double black diamond runs. Head to Whitetooth Brewing in the nearby town of Golden. Started by a home brewer that slowly developed his passion into a commercial project, each beer is named after a local attraction in the mountains surrounding beautiful Golden.

Our pick of the bunch is, of course, the one inspired by the endless powder snow that falls in this part of British Columbia. It’s called Blower Pow, and it’s an India Pale Ale that’s designed with the hardcore skier or boarder in mind. Go ahead and get a whole growler (that’s Canadian for giant glass-jug-style bottle), we won’t tell.

Monashee Spirits Craft Distillery

 
 
 
 
 
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Monashee Spirits have hands-down the coolest bottles of spirits you’ll ever have on your home bar. You’ll find them in the town of Revelstoke, near Revelstoke Mountain Resort, so come with spare room in your luggage for the essentials – a bottle of the bright red Vulcan’s Fire liqueur (think a blend of apples, maple syrup, red Thai chili peppers and more) and a bottle of their Big Mountain Creamer (espresso cream liqueur infused with vanilla honey and, of course, maple syrup). You may as well throw in a bottle of their vodka while you’re at it, made with local BC grains. Or their gin, which just took out first place and top spirit in all of Canada at the 2019 Canadian Artisan spirit awards.

In classic Revelstoke fashion, these guys do what they do with serious love and commitment to the town. The distillery is dog-friendly, plastic-free and they try to source every single ingredient within 100 miles of the distillery, including the botanicals used in their gin. The bar is also a popular spot for locals who come for the cocktails and stay for the conversation.

Nelson Brewing Company

 
 
 
 
 
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Tucked away in a 120-year-old building at the top of a hill in beautiful Nelson is a brewery that pays serious homage to the authentic, inspired and progressive vibe of the entire town.

Nelson Brewing Company went certified organic back in 2006, and they now produce a series of delicious brews including everyone’s favourite ski-inspired ones: Face Plant, an organic winter ale which will warm the soul after a big day on the mountain, and Bent Pole, an IPA that’s a homage to the nearby epic Whitewater Ski Resort.

Mt Begbie Brewing Company 

 
 
 
 
 
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Another Revelstoke favourite, there’s no going past Mt Begbie Brewing Company, which was voted ‘Canadian Craft Brewery of the Year’ in 2017. Founded in 1996 by a nuclear physicist (Bart Larson) and a biologist (Tracey Larson), the pair are known for making some of the most delicious brews to be found in BC. Their beers are 100% natural and made using mountain fresh water from the very mountains surrounding the brewery.

Our favourite is their original signature beer, the Begbie Cream Ale, a fruity ale with a subtle honey flavour that also happens to be a Canadian Gold Winner three times over. But with a brand new tasting room having opened in 2017, your best bet is to order one of their beer flights and taste them all.

Rossland Beer Company

 
 
 
 
 
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The glorious mountain town of Rossland, BC is home to a few things: the spectacular RED Mountain Resort and the award-winning brewery of Rossland Beer Company. They use fresh Rossland Mountain filtered water and fresh malted grain and hops, along with absolutely no preservatives or additives, to produce some of the freshest, tastiest beers to be found. 

Get off the slopes and head straight to their brewery to taste our favourite, the 7 Summits Milk Stout that won the gold medal at the 2015 Canadian Brewing Awards. Dark and delicious with hints of espresso, it’s the best way to get your energy and spirits up after a long day on the mountain.

Fernie Brewing Co.

 
 
 
 
 
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If you’d like your beer served up with a side of philanthropy, Fernie Brewing Co is the place for you. They’ve been running a ‘Cheers to Charity’ program since 2013, where you can purchase a flight of beer for $6 and raise money for a worthy cause in the community. So far, they’ve raised over $120,202.83 for local charities, clubs and organisations.

With a huge range of beers on offer, the only problem you’ll have is deciding which to taste. Our pick, as always, is inspired by the local ski resort of Fernie Alpine Resort and best consumed in the winter months. It’s called First Trax Brown Ale and it offers up notes of nuts and chocolate – the perfect treat once the lifts have stopped spinning.

Fernie Distillers

 
 
 
 
 
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There’s a lot to love about Fernie Distillers, but there are a few things we love best of all. Production is spearheaded by one of the only female distillers in the industry; they make less than two hundred bottles per handcrafted batch, resulting in bottles that are all filled and corked by hand; and they use age-old techniques to make spirits that are inspired by the culture of the town of Fernie, one that’s rich in mining and bootlegging.

Take the No. 9 Mine vodka home with you, or the Fernie Fog Liqueur, which is an Earl Grey tea-infused liqueur with vanilla and demerara sugar.

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