Visit: Yukon Beer Festival (plus bonus Gr8ful Spud)

As mentioned, the Yukon Beer festival was recently held here in Whitehorse. I signed up to volunteer.

To my surprise, I was assigned to one of the cider tables. What a delight! As I’ve revealed a few times on this blog, I’m a bit of a cider fan. I used to have a blog called “The Westcider” when I was living in Vancouver. But then, I moved to Ottawa, got a fancy-pants job and the blog went to the wayside (I could’ve turned that into a cider pun, but I didn’t!).

image1-1I had the pleasure of working with MLA Kate White at the table. I feel her enthusiasm and my knowledge was the reason we were able to move some of the highest priced (up to 4 tokens) drinks at the event.

I was there Friday night and Saturday afternoon in a working capacity. I returned on Saturday evening to sample a few beers.

My favourite beer was a sour raspberry porter. (Its full name was Freigiest Bierkultur Salzspeicher Sour Raspberry Porter.)

But by no means was that probably the best beer at the event. How could I have even tried enough to make that decision? Plus I’m not one for anything over 50 IBUs. I’m just not into the hops.

As for the ciders – of which I tried 15 of the 20 there (and have previously tried 4 of the remaining 5) – maybe my review will be more meaningful.

Top 5:

  1. Reverend Nat’s Revival – This was one of the ciders that we were peddling and it was a revelation. The strangest thing about it is that I couldn’t come up with words to describe it. For so many of the ciders I talked about how sweet, dry, appley, carbonated, fruity, oaky, etc they are.. But for this, I just said, “it’s delicious.”image15
  2. Sea Cider’s Bittersweet – The festival didn’t have Sea Cider’s Rumrunner which is my favourite cider ever. But this was a new addition to the main line and bam, a great cider. Well balanced, bright and tart and a bit sweet… just a great combination of what you want out of a cider.
  3. Finn River Fire Barrel Cider – When I try to get beer or rye/rum/whisky drinkers into a cider, this is the way to go. They would come to the station and claim – “I don’t like cider, they are too sweet.” And when I’d ask what ciders they have tried, the answer would inevitably be some macro swill or fruit-flavoured abomination. Anyways, this one still has some sweetness, but is also a deeper flavour with smoky bourbon tones.
  4. Tieton Cherry Cider – I was surprised to like this cider because I usually push back from fruit ciders. But what this one did a good job of is actually tasting like cherry. Not cherry flavour or overly sweet cherry pie, but cherries. It’s nice that they’ve mixed it into a semi-dry cider.
  5. Finn River Artisan Sparkling Cider – My wedding last year was not very traditional (I wore green) and while there was no wedding party and no speeches, my husband and I did a toast. We served a french sparking cider rather than the traditional champagne. It was lovely and this offering from Finn River reminded me of it.  Very bubbly but with the light taste of apple, with a dry finish.

image3-1Of the rest, I didn’t care much for the Anthem ciders, though I could see their appeal as they are non-offensive ciders for people moving away from the Strongbows of the world.  Reverend Nat also had a Ginger Tonic cider which was probably the most interesting one we had. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but I’m not a ginger fiend. Wish my husband could have tried it. I also didn’t like the Habanero cider. It wasn’t spicy, but the aroma would burn your nostrils and the flavour left something to be desired.

The favourite from people trying our ciders was a Black Currant cider. It, like the cherry one I described, did a great job of actually tasting like the fruit.

If you’re interested in trying ciders, I highly recommend Reverend Nat’s, Sea Cider, Finn River, Tieton and Merridale. Some of them may have even made their way to the Liquor Store.

That’s right, yesterday the Beer Fest leftovers showed up on the shelves there. There wasn’t a lot of cider (and even less after I left) but there are plenty of beers to try. Hopefully we can have a few more weeks before the snow really settles in here because there were lots of summery beers!

Anyways, check it out while you still can!

As for next year, I’ll be signing up as a volunteer as soon as possible. I had a great time chatting with folks and trying to convince them of the merits of cider. In fact, I think I enjoyed pouring more than drinking (but that could be from my lack of friends and wandering around the event solo). Anyways, see you next year!

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BONUS: Gr8ful Spud

I still need to visit Gr8ful Spud. I feel having them serve me poutine at a beer festival is not a full visit. But it’s a start.

My thoughts on the poutine? I love their style of fries. There were plenty of cheese curds. The gravy was kind of gelatinous – but had a good flavour, so I can often overlook texture for flavour. I ate the giant serving in about 2 minutes and was very pleased.

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Likelihood of return visit: Technically I still have to visit the place

Recommended dish: Poutine seems like a good place to start

Tripadvisor: #18 of 92 Restaurants in Whitehorse

Gr8ful Spud: 102 Wood Street | Inside the Riverview Hotel, Whitehorse, Yukon