May 18, 2017

Summertime sippin’ in Squamish

Locally made craft beer, cider and artisan spirits abound in Squamish

— Discover Squamish
Howe Sound Brewing head brewer Simon Jongsma works on his latest batch. — David Buzzard

Squamish brewers are getting ready to embrace the summer, rolling out some new seasonal flavours to help locals enjoy the sunshine.

“I think Squamish in the summer is really wonderful,” said Simon Jongsma, the head brewer at Howe Sound Brewing. “The pub definitely gets a lot busier. The patio is always full. It’s definitely a really exciting, fun time to be living and working in Squamish.” 

To kick off the season, the company has released a new beer called Jam Session. A raspberry cream ale, the drink will have a strong fruit flavour and aroma, but Jongsma insists that it maintains a complex flavour. 

“We’re focusing still on the beer style – I don’t want it to taste like a cup of raspberry juice,” he said. “An attention to the nuances in beer is important and giving it a little bit more of an intricate flavour.” 

Aside from Jam Session, the brewery plans on rolling out several summer-themed brews such as a blueberry wheat ale and several India pale ales. 

A-Frame Brewing Co. co-owner Jeff Oldenborger and taste room supervisor Carmen Faulkner in the brewery. - David Buzzard

Howe Sound Brewing is Squamish’s oldest microbrewery and one of the first in the province. 

Turning 21 this year, the brewery’s original recipes were made by Canada’s first microbrewer, John Mitchell. 

Anyone curious to get a taste of one of Mitchell’s original creations would do well to try the Baldwin & Cooper Best Bitter, an English bitter with a malty background and a healthy dose of hops. 

But while Howe Sound has a long, storied history in Squamish, those looking for something a little new in town will have much to find in microbreweries that will be spending their first summer in Squamish. 

A-Frame Brewing Co., which just opened in December, is planning to kick into high gear by staying open seven days a week and releasing new brews. 

“It’s pretty neat,” said Oldenborger, co-owner of A-Frame Brewing Co. “There’s some stresses that come along with it… but it’s also kind of fun now too. The days are getting longer and we’re in the process of building a patio.” 

Plans are currently underway to make a new India pale ale, which will have a hoppier, stronger taste and is expected to come out before June. 

Once summer is in full swing, A-Frame will be releasing a hefeweizen, which is a type of wheat ale that often has a light taste and citrusy overtones – a favourite among many when the heat goes up. 

Another drink to look out for will be Smash beer, an acronym for a single-malt, single hop brew. 

Backcountry Brewing partners Marc Roberts, Ben Reeder, John Folinsbee, Adam Sternberg and Rajiv Sandu in their bar and brewery. - David Buzzard

The reasoning for creating this brew stems from a theme that’s being set by the B.C. Beer Awards this year. 

Competitors are being asked to make a drink that suits the theme, and A-Frame is going to be stepping up to the challenge. 

After this beer has a run later in the summer, it will be entered into the October contest. 

Oldenborger is also looking forward to bringing his brews to events all around the Squamish and Vancouver area. 

Some of the places A-Frame will be setting up shop will include the Great Okanagan Beerfest, the PNE’s craft beer market and the Whistler Beerfest.

But Oldenborger still has soft spot for the Squamish beerfest, which is where A-Frame got its start.

“I think that the local beerfest is no question [a highlight],” said Oldenborger. “It was our first event last year. It’s kind of been the only big event we’ve done, and I think the support from the locals has been so fantastic.” 

Backcountry Brewing, which just recently had a friends-and-family opening, will also be taking part in the summer fun with seasonal drinks.

At the time of writing, the head brewer was still in the early stages of developing new beers, and the rollout was still subject to change. 

Kelly Ann Woods and John McLellan of Gillespie’s Fine Spirits. - David Buzzard

For those interested in their core, non-seasonal beers, the company is expected to put out a pilsner, a pale ale and an India pale ale. 

And for anyone looking for something aside from beer, there’s good news – a cidery is coming up on the horizon. 

Britannia Beach Cider is expected to open up its doors in July on Second Avenue near Howe Sound Brewing. 

With an aim to source everything locally and a zero-waste goal, the establishment is planning to have rotating seasonal drinks as well as several year-round beverages. 

Details are being kept under wraps at the moment, but the focus will be on apple cider and a few different fruit-flavoured offshoots. 

After the company plants its flag in Squamish, it has plans to continue expanding in the Sea to Sky area and the Lower Mainland. 

“It’s going to be exciting times,” said co-owner Rob Weys. “We’ll all work together and make Squamish the place for people to come and hang out.” 

A long-time favourite, Gillespie’s Fine Spirits handcrafts artisan spirits and cocktails accompaniments from B.C.-grown grains and fruit. 

It’s all made in small batches by John McLellan and Kelly Ann Woods, partners in business, life and parenting. 

Their tantalizing creations include the Aphro Chili Chocolate Elixir, Gastown Shine Wheat Vodka, Lemoncello and Raspberry Gin, all made right here in Squamish. 

“We’ve got a few new products in the works that are brandy based, including a blackberry brandy and a triple sec, as well as vermouth,” said Woods. “We have also started barreling our whiskey along with private barrels for our signature barrel program and our sipping vinegars and apple cider vinegar are going full retail.” 

© Copyright 2019 Discover Squamish

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