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For the Love of Beer

BY: Mark Kristofic

Skiing? Yes please. Beer? Yes please.

It’s a combination that is better than chocolate and peanut butter. Even H.B. Reese would be envious.

When Granville Island Brewing put together their second annual Brewski Tour, inviting Ski Television to come along to be part of the adventure, the only internal debate was who would “get stuck” managing the group for four days, sampling the finest brews in the west and skiing iconic resorts along the way. Rough life.

This epic eight-day journey visiting eight regional craft breweries and six BC ski resorts, the BrewSki Tour is the categorical combination of two passions. The brainchild of Dave Nicholls, a mild-spoken madman who also doubles as the General Manager of Granville Island Brewing. For Dave, the whole idea of BrewSki is to meet and exchange ideas with various craft breweries and celebrate the lifestyle tied to the West Coast craft brewing industry.

The Ski Television crew made up of cameraman/producer Darryl “LG” Palmer, host Claire Challen, and myself as the self-professed groupie hack. Our journey starts midway through the BrewSki Tour and includes stops at Sun Peaks, Revelstoke and Silver Star. And of course, the local craft breweries on the way.

As our coach bus pulls out of Granville Island on a rainy Sunday afternoon, the bus quickly divides into three sections. The mild-mannered tour organizers in the front, the middle-aged media crew in the middle (Dave falls in with us), and the young brewers, educators, and salesforce of Granville Island whooping it up in the back to Bell Biv Devoe, Metallica, and Black Sabbath, to which I have to say I’m impressed.

The energy of the back of the bus crew is infectious and doesn’t slow down until we roll into Kamloops and our first stop – Red Collar Brewing Co. – in the heart of downtown Kamloops. Red Collar’s tasting room is a comfortable combination of country rustic with contemporary touches and we are warmly greeted by the proprietors. While the Granville Island Brewing crew get down to business touring the facilities and engaging in conversation with the Red Collar staff, LG, Claire, and I also get down to business … tasting beer.

We agree the winner for the evening was the staff pick “Michael Jackson”, a combination of Red Collar’s IPA and Black Hefe, a jet-black wheat beer. Ironically, I’ve been told that after a few drinks my voice goes from a pleasing baritone (my own self-description) to a bad impression of Michael Jackson, so the winning beer of the evening was only fitting.

We went for dinner just a few blocks away at the Noble Pig, a Kamloops Brewhouse with an incredible menu and ability to combine delectable food and unique beer. Afterwards, the full crew is back on the bus to Sun Peaks.

Day two greets us with 15 centimetres of fresh snow, blue-bird sky, and a pleasant temperature hovering around 0 celsius. We get down to business … skiing. Exploring run after run, I’m taken in by Sun Peaks’ variety. The sheer vastness that makes them Canada’s second largest resort isn’t seen from base village, but it quickly becomes apparent with the first ride up to the mid station. A day of warmth, sunshine, and a little hiking into the Gils for side country, I think to myself, “we have truly hit the jackpot.”