RICK MACDONNELL, SnowSeekers Inc.
"Whistler's leaning more towards the British scene, I think. More and more of us are coming over. It's much more friendly here, I think, than in England. Just talking with other Brits on the chairlifts and stuff, there's definitely a new wave coming across the sea now. With any luck we'll outnumber the Aussies soon."
So says Kent native, Billy Clarke, an Englishman who now calls Whistler home. He's been here for three months, and if you can believe it, the Olympics were an afterthought for him.
"I was just coming for the snow, mate. The Olympics were a bonus, to be honest." After a laugh, he continued. "The hill is amazing, you know, and the fact that the Olympics are here is just awesome."
After chatting for a few minutes about some British beers, I couldn't take it any longer and decided to try some out for myself. And in Whistler, there's one place the Brits go: Elephant and Castle.
"We've been open for almost three months, and since then we've developed kind of a cult following with the Brits," said General Manager Mark Forest.
Over a pint of Fuller London Pride, Forest caught me up to speed on the disparities between Canadian beers, and those of our British forefathers.
"Well, for starters, British pints are imperial pints, so they're 20 ounces. We don't do pitchers of beer, but we do have the 20 ounce pints. We serve various styles of British beers, lagers and pilsners. We rotate our beers around, but we always make sure that we have the favourite British beers on tap.
"We have Boddingtons, Fuller's London Pride, Strongbow, and then we rotate around with some of the smaller brews. And of course the IPA, India Pale Ale."
The story of India Pale Ale is well known. When British soldiers were in India in the 1800s, they simply had to have their beer. But it was so hot during the summer season that the beer was going bad. So the soldiers added more hops, which acted as a preservative.
"Thus, you get a hoppier beer, India Pale Ale. It's become a British Staple. It's a lighter beer, but it's good."
There is such deep British heritage in Canada that, naturally, British pubs and beers still hold some influence. You'd be hard pressed to find a city in the whole country without at least one classy British establishment.
"It does surprise me that we're the only British-style pub in Whistler. There's a part of British culture, and there's a part of Canadian culture, and that's beer," said Forest.
Although he's a big proponent of the British varieties, Forest is also a fan the Western Canadian microbreweries.
"There's one in Victoria, B.C. called Phillips Brewery, and it's amazing. They won one gold and one silver award at the GABF, which is the Great American Beer Festival.
"You've got breweries from Halifax to B.C. to California, to Mississippi in this thing. There's 4,000 breweries that enter. For an up and coming brewery in British Columbia to take gold, that's amazing. We're talking a seven year old brewery."
In the words of Billy Clarke, speaking of Whistler, "It's awesome. Absolutely awesome."
Stay tuned to www.snowseekers.ca/olympicnews for daily blogs, videos and more throughout the Olympics.
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