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Whistler Big Sky

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About a month ago, a local pseudo-brewery sent out a request on Twitter for people to review their new beer. Whistler Brewing (actually a subsidiary brand of the larger NorthAm Group out of Kamloops, which also brews the piss-in-a-can known as Bowen Island Beer) had released a new California Common, titled Big Sky, and wanted local beer snobs to know about it.

It didn’t take long for the kind folk of Twitter land to suggest that perhaps they should send a sample off to me for review. Strangely, no sample arrived. Perhaps they forgot. Or, perhaps they’re even passingly familiar with my blog and/or previous reviews of their “beer”.


Let’s face it: I’m kinda like the Cards Against Humanity of beer reviews.

Whistler could be forgiven for thinking that I have it out for them, but then again I did rather like their Lost Lake Unfiltered IPA. So, you see Whistler Brewing, it’s your beer I dislike intensely, not you. If you brew better beer, I tend to give it good reviews.

See how that works? Weird, right? I know, I know, it truly would be so much easier if I was the kind of beer snob who would hand out praising reviews simply because you’re giving me free beer. Alas, that’s not the case. Also alas, it’s what gives the following review some clout.

First up, the style. I’ve always suspected that the marketers ran the show at NorthAm, and calling this beer an “Uncommon Lager” just reinforces that. The label rambles on providing a decently accurate description of the California Common style, although they completely fail to mention anything about California, or the actually interesting history behind that style.

Why would they invent a style, though? I can’t profess to know, but I suspect their target market might be confused by the California Common term, and its nasty trait of not having the word “Lager” crammed right in it. Perhaps unsophisticated beer drinkers of the sort what comprise Whistler’s demographic like lagers, and generally can’t be counted on to be patient or literate enough to bother reading the beer description. Sure, that’s rampant speculation, but I’m running with it.


To be fair, their target demographic
considers this “selection.”

Is it any damned good, though? Meh. It’s an okay, if not great, Cali Common. When I drink a Cali, I’m looking for a smooth malt body and complex finish. This beer falls short of the mark. Cereal properly comes through up front on the palate, but the finish is dominated by bitter hops without any of the firm, toasted grain backbone typical of the style. If you want a Cali Common, go drink 33 Acres of Life, which is drinking particularly well right now.

APPEARANCE pale red, filtered. Thick tight persistent white head.
NOSE Hints of pilsner malt. Cereal and strong grain. About right.
TASTE Like a strongly hopped light ale. Lacks lager crispness and round mouthfeel, yet despite all this is actually very sweet. Long unpleasant bitter finish.
STATS 5.0% ABV / 36 IBU / California Common
SHOULD I BUY IT? Do you like boring, over hopped beer?
CHECK IN

Brewery Whistler (NorthAm)
From Whistler
Name Big Sky
Style California Common
SOA Now None
SOA Potential n/a
Drink Now
Best use Making 33 Acres Life taste even better
Availability Wide LDB
Cost $4.75-$6.00 per 650ml
Similar Beers 33 Acres of Life, Anchor Steam

 

Written by chuck

September 5th, 2014 at 11:25 am

Posted in Beers,Breweries

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Whistler The Chief Chipotle Ale

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It’s been a while since I last reviewed a run-of-the-mill beer off the LDB’s shelves. Coincidentally, it looks like Whistler Brewing Company has a new bomber out there: The Chief Chipotle Red Ale. If you need a refresher, I’ve been rather harsh on WBC in the past, but I’ve also given props where props are due.

I’m nothing if not pragmatic, and realize it can be hard for a company focused on low-to-mid-range beer to break away from the mass consumer market and instead focus on the high end beer geek crowd, but WBC definitely put their toes in the water with Lost Lake, a delightfully unfiltered IPA. Lost Lake represented a brief, welcome break from a line-up focused on sweetened beers best consumed from a jagged hole in the side of a can. Seriously, they have nine different beers listed at the LDB, and fully five of those are sweetened offerings that can only charitably be called “entry level products.”

Where does The Chief fit in here? Let’s start with the name. Aside from ominously stepping on the Squamish-based product naming scheme of Howe Sound Brewing, slapping “The Chief” on a spicy pepper infused Red Ale should promise a big, meaty, high-malt beer with lots of mineral complexity. This beer is none of those things.

Granted, it’s not awful, which is much better than I’d feared. However, a “Chipotle Red Ale” named after the largest chunk of granite on the planet can ill-afford to be boring, and that’s exactly where this beer leaves you. Whistler, you can do better than this.

APPEARANCE Clear, light auburn red with thin, quickly dissipating white lead. Very low carb.
NOSE Slight chipotle–not much else.
TASTE Not overwhelming, dry, chipotle bitterness, but rather unpleasant. Virtually no other flavour.
STATS 5.0% ABV / ?? IBU / Chipotle-infused
SHOULD I BUY IT? Yeah, it’s a skip. You might have $5.75 burning a hole in your pocket but you’d be better off eating the money instead.

Coles notes:

Brewery Whistler
From Whistler
Name The Chief
Style Red Ale
SOA Now n/a
SOA Potential n.a
Drink Your sink should drink it
Number of good beers with chipotle 0 and counting
Availability Most LDBs
Cost $5.75 per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers Rogue Chipotle Ale

Written by chuck

November 27th, 2013 at 3:41 pm

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Whistler Lost Lake IPA

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As you may recall, I’ve had some history with Whistler Brewing’s beers on this blog. As a result of that, I’m surprised that Whistler hasn’t posted pictures of me at every LDB in the province with instructions to not sell their product to me.

If they did, it didn’t work. The Groucho Marx glasses might’ve helped, I guess. In any event, I recently found myself staring down a bottle of their new Lost Lake Unfiltered IPA. I could feel my bad beer hormones getting all stirred up just looking at it.

Then I tasted it. What a let down. Not only was this beer not awful, it actually was flirting with being… good. I mean, it’s not great, but it’s not bad either. Yet, even though I liked it, I still have a big issue with this beer’s label.


And I don’t just mean that the label is missing Lost Lake’s bikini-clad sunbathers… um… what was my point again?

You see, it says “unfiltered” right there on the bottle. I’ve been semi-outspoken on this point before, but let me subtlety say it again here so I’m on record: BEER SHOULD NOT BE FILTERED. Leave the yeast in, folks. Think of it this way: have you ever had unfiltered or bottle conditioned beer and thought “this would be so much better if there wasn’t any yeast here”? How about the other way around?

Putting “unfiltered” right in the title of a beer might seem like a step in the right direction, and I guess it is a bit, but what I see when I read that is “all our beers are filtered. Except this one” or maybe even “not filtering beer is so weird that we just had to put it on the label. Aren’t we kooky?”

Anyway, the beer. This isn’t a big IPA like Driftwood’s Fat Tug, but it is a nice take on the milder English style. There’s lots to keep you interested: the hops are floral and fruity, the yeast holds the body together, and the sugars aren’t over done.

Overall, hands down the best beer from Whistler Brewing I’ve ever had: a solid “okay.”

Tasting notes:

NOSE Mild hop nose consisting of tropical fruit tones (grapefruit/passion fruit)
APPEARANCE Slightly hazy, but still quite a clear, orangey, amber. Thick persistent head.
TASTE Strong bittering hops, but overall a good tasting IPA. Yeast character is balanced and quite nice.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Yes. It’s cheap, it’s good, and buying it will encourage another mediocre brewery to brew better beer.

Coles notes:

Brewery Northam (Whistler)
From Whistler
Name Lost Lake
Style Unfiltered IPA
SOA Now None Awarded
SOA Potential Not a cellaring ale
Drink Lots. It’s not quite medal-worthy, but it’s still good.
Puzzler Where does all that yeast go when they filter? Down the drain?
Availability Widely available at LDB
Cost $5.84 per 650ml bottle.
Similar BC Beers Howe Sound Devil’s Elbow, Coal Harbour Powell

Written by chuck

April 24th, 2013 at 3:29 pm

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