The Specs: Whistler Brewing Co. Big Sky Uncommon Lager
5 per cent ABV, 650mL, seasonal
We’ve got more than 90 breweries in B.C. these days, and yet here I am back at the Whistler Brewing trough.
What can I say? Big Sky has a dandy story. Quoth the bottle copy:
“Back in the 1890s, before refrigeration and modern brewing techniques, lagers were hot fermented in the warm western climate — much like an ale is today. What was common then is uncommon today.”
Whistler promises as “hop forward clean finish” and I have to say, they’ve delivered. This is the most literal interpretation of hop-forward, clean finish you could hope to find.
On taking a sip of Big Sky you’re immediately hit with all of the beer’s flavour. And where the back of the sip, your end notes, your aftertaste, should be there’s… nada. Instead, you have the strange experience of the hop taste just sort of evaporating out of your mouth, even as you still feel like you’re drinking. It’s like Jesus in reverse — beer into water, with maybe a hint of metal.
It’s pretty entertaining. The slower your sip, the more pronounced the experience is. It took me entirely too long to get through a glass of this stuff because I was trying to see how far I could push the sensation. And you don’t have to worry about feeling weighed down when you’re through your first pint. Big Sky is its own palate cleanser.
But, I feel like the punch of beer flavour at the front doesn’t allow for complexity. The toasty and hoppy flavours end up trampling all over each other, stifling their best characteristics. I found myself wishing Big Sky could cool its jets, give me more time to get a handle on its flavours before everything swept away.
Faults aside, if you can still track down a bottle (this was one of Whistler’s summer releases, though I found a good batch of it at one of my local stores) I’d give it a go. Makes a heck of a party trick if you’re the right kind of dork.