It’s been a crazy year, full of challenges and changes to the plan so we thought it would be a good time for an update! Read on and you will find an update on our continuing journey surrounding equity, diversity & inclusion, fundraising efforts, new key team members, upcoming beers as well as a Q & A with brewer Melissa Hogg.
First off, back on April 1st Backcountry turned 4 and as much as we love to throw down a good party, we decided the climate just wasn’t ideal for a celebration. The silver lining is that we have lots of time to plan something very special for our 5-year anniversary next spring!
Welcoming James and Gord
We are very excited to welcome two new key staff members to the team! James Buchanan, formerly of Trattoria Di Umberto, joins us as Head Chef, bringing with him 25 years of fine dining experience and an exciting new menu. Gordon Auld, formerly of the Beacon Pub in Whistler, has recently taken the reigns of the tasting room as General Manager. He has a genuine passion for customer experience, teamwork and is really excited to be working in his hometown.
Upcoming Fall & Winter Beers
With fall just around the corner we are looking forward to jumping into stout season. This year we have a large amount of bourbon barrel aged stouts we put into barrels last year. We were lucky enough to get some really nice Heaven & Hill bourbon barrels including some with heavy char, so expect some amazing flavors! These will be hella small batches so make sure to tune in to social media to get the 411.
As you might expect we will be doing some big heavy sours this fall. You might even see an imperial sour! With that there will be another cocktail inspired sour coming after a year spent in bourbon barrels. Also in the works for this winter is a thick and juicy pastry sour… or two.
The winter is such a great time to experiment with weird and different flavors. We are planning some fruited IPAs and pale ales as well as some heavy hitting double IPAs. Watch out for some of your favorite call backs from years past as well as new recipes and concepts from some of our newer brewers.
As a result of Covid safety protocols and staffing shortages there have been a lot of changes to how we serve our customers. Masks are required to enter the retail store as well as the tasting room. Vaccine passports will be required for entry into the tasting room as of September 13th. We have temporarily reduced our hours of operation in the tasting room to accommodate for a smaller kitchen team. In addition, we are now hosting rotating food trucks on Mondays and Tuesdays. In good news, our patio license has been extended till next July! Please note we do not allow pets on the patio but do have a shady spot and water available out front of the patio.
Backcountry Brewing is committed to fostering and welcoming diversity within our brewery with the goal of creating a safe space for our staff, patrons and community. We are working to make diversity and inclusion part of our company DNA. With the help of Alden Habacon and his team at Inclusive Excellence Strategy Solutions, we have updated our workplace bullying and harassment policy. With their help our entire team completed an intensive company-wide training on the policy and procedures. During these sessions we discussed how our policy applies to specific scenarios and situations that may occur, or have occurred, in our workplace. Currently we are working on a core values statement with a workgroup of staff, managers and owners that will help guide decision making and ultimately will define the evolving culture at Backcountry.
Supporting our local community has always been a top priority for us and in recent years we are excited to have been able to expand on this effort to include a broader range of fundraising. We are proud to once again be supporting the Diversity In Brewing scholarship at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. In July, we were busy fundraising for the Indian Residential School Survivors Society as well as the ongoing campaign for the Squamish branch of the BCSPCA. We have also helped fund the Inclusive Culture Club with a collection of family friendly resources celebrating diversity and fostering inclusion in the Sea to Sky area. For the entire month of August we have partnered with Darby’s Pub & Liquor Store and The Score Pub on Davie to fundraise for the Vancouver Pride Society. Come September 16th we welcome the return of the “Suck It Cancer” fundraising campaign that has raised over $25,000 to date for the BC Cancer Foundation in collaboration with late artist Chili Thom and BC’s brewing industry leaders: Hops Connect, Summit Labels, Vessel Packaging, BSG Canada and Rahr Malting.
Q & A with brewer Melissa Hogg
Q: Congrats on being the creator of Backcountry’s first Gose! What was your inspiration for your two Blackberry Gose Sours, This Is What It Sounds Like When Doves Cry and This is What It Tastes Like When Doves Cry?
A: There is a blackberry gose that we had at a Grimm Artisan Ales in Brooklyn NY several years back while on a brewers research trip. It was striking to me for how intense it was, so tart, salty and a wild amount of blackberry. It worked. In the summer a bit of salt in beer was just the perfect amount of refreshing and Blackberry is the ultimate summer berry as its very specific to August. And as for the beer name, when I pictured the beer in my mind, I knew it was going to be purple and when I think of purple I think of Prince’s and his iconic album Purple Rain. With the saltiness of this recipe it made me think of tears, hence the name “This is What It Sounds Like When Dove’s Cry”.
Q: What is the best beer and food pairing on the Backcountry Menu these days?
A: I’m going to go classic and say a Margarita pizza and a crisp pilsner. Classic, timeless, season-less.
Q: What’s the best part of your job?
A: The variety. It’s fast paced, there’s a lot of problem solving, you never really know what you’re going to be doing. In particular, at backcountry vs other breweries we have a philosophy that there’s no shit jobs, everyone does everything from brewing to cellar work to packaging. We have a flat hierarchy that is quite unique, it creates an atmosphere that fosters creativity, and everyone contributes.
Q: It’s hard to pick favourites, but what is your top pick for a place to eat in Squamish that isn’t the BCB tasting room?
A: As often as possible I get donuts at Fox and Oak. I was happy to come back from maternity leave because my daughters favourite park was too close to donuts. Her first word was “dono”!
Q: Where is the best spot to drink a beer in Squamish?
A: Anywhere outside.
Q: Do you have any advice for people new to the craft beer scene?
A: Try anything once. Even if you think you might not like it. There’s so much variety and you can usually get a little sip of something before you commit to it. Don’t get constrained to a style or genre that you like. Just try. We’ve all talked to people who say they don’t like sours or IPA’s and then they discover one they love. There’s so much out there, just keep an open mind and ask questions. Don’t feel bullied into thinking you should like something because it’s cool or hip or trendy. No styles are better than any other styles.
Q: What is the soundtrack to your brew day?
A: Loud noises. C02 and Pumps. It’s so loud in here that I never add extra noise.
Q: What beers are you most excited about that are coming up in the schedule?
A: I’m excited about the upcoming rice lager. One last crispy boy for the summer heat. I’ve been gravitating more and more towards well executed lagers. I love many types of beer but that’s the daily drinker.
Q: What inspired you to get into brewing?
A: I’m pretty nerdy and I like beer. I was getting really into drinking beer in university there weren’t that many craft beers. You’d get bored. If you wanted to try new things you made it yourself. I would go to Dan’s home brewing on Hastings street and flip through the binder of recipes. It was 2003… Since then I’ve had many careers from wildlife biologist to managing a compost facility and on the side I kept brewing. I always thought I would enjoy working at a commercial brewery and that I would be really good at it. I applied at Backcountry to be a part-time delivery driver and although I didn’t get that job I was offered some work packaging beer and then started brewing soon after!
Q: What’s your favourite Backcountry beer to date?
A: I don’t like to pick favourites.
Q: What’s your favourite non-Backcountry beer to date?
A: I’ve had a lot of different beers I like. Locally, a beer I find myself drinking a lot is the Bootsy Farmhouse IPA from House Of Funk Brewing. It has the perfect amounts of funky and crispy, it’s really refreshing. It’s not like anything we brew here so I’m not bored of it.
Well thanks for reading this far! Be sure to follow us on Instagram @backcountrybrewing for the latest updates, cheers!
The Backcountry Brewing Team