It’s a thing. There’s no good explanation or logic to it – it just is: mountain biking and craft beers go hand-in-hand… or mouth. Luckily, living in BC means experiencing the best of both these worlds with world-class mountain bike trails out your backdoor, and a growing number of craft breweries sprouting up around the province and most notably, in the Sea to Sky corridor. Exploring both suds and singletrack can be overwhelming; however, we were up to the strenuous challenge and put together a little something we like to call Bike & Beer Pairing for your enjoyment. Cheers!
Smooth to Strong
This iconic double-wide Squamish flow trail requires a good pedal up the Ring Creek Forestry Road for about 30 minutes, fitness depending. While it may be common to see people charging down on full suspension Downhill bikes, the truth is you can ride it on a hardtail, too. Half Nelson is like a flowy pump track, and full of confidence-inspiring berms that will be sure to put a smile on your face, which makes it a popular afterwork session trail.
Photo of Half Nelson taken by 7mesh.com
Beer Pairing: Howe Sound Brewing Garibaldi Honey Pale Ale ABV: 5.0% IBU: 16
We’ve paired Howe Sound’s Garibaldi Honey Pale Ale with this trail for all the right reasons: it’s an after-work go-to session beer that goes down smooth after a hard day’s work. Refreshing and lightly hopped, with a touch of honey, this beer will quench thirsts without feeling heavy in the stomach. A popular choice for a popular trail.
Trail: Angry Midget
Unassuamingly rugged, Angry Midget’s twisting descent through the Garibaldi Park trees (and over their roots, too) may seem like it fits its “black” trail rating, but the flow and jovial exhilaration you feel while skidding around its corners leaves you climbing back up for more. One of the Park’s tallest bike trails (and higher trailheads), expect to get more bang for your buck on this gem, just a short 10 minute pedal up past the Half Nelson trailhead. Peppered with beginner-friendly wooden bridges, this is a quick & dirty must-ride for any biker.
Photo by SORCA – Support the local Trail builders by picking up your pass here: www.sorca.com
Beer Pairing: Whistler Whiskey Jack Ale ABV: 5.0% IBU: N/A
Try pairing this trail with Whistler Brewing’s Whiskey Jack Ale: a dark-amber beer with a well-rounded mouthfeel and slight bitterness from the dry-hopped procedure (like “steeping” hops in the fermentation process). It’s smooth taste makes this another great session beer for after a good pedally ascent.
Trail: Somewhere Over There
This trail is located on the other side of the Garibaldi Park Road, opposite the Ring Creek FSR on your left. It takes some technical climbing to get to (okay, A LOT of climbing) but for how remote and beautiful, it is worth every punchy pedal stroke. The trail starts on some intimidating-looking rock rolls that are actually quite easy considering the grip of the rock. Continuing through the trees and meandering along the side of the mountain you come to more user-friendly rock rolls. For the amount of time in the trees and descending along rock rolls to northwest loam, you’ll feel like a local whether you are lucky enough to be one or not.
Beer Pairing: Howe Sound Brewing Sky Pilot Northwest Pale Ale ABV: 5.0% IBU: 30
Pack a Howe Sound SkyPilot Northwest Pale Ale to share on this ride for its refreshingly assertive hop aroma. Brewed with Canadian two row malt and a special blend of Northwest hops, you’ll enjoy how the taste of this beer links up with the feel of this trail: decidedly Northwest.
Trail: Crouching Squirrel Hidden Monkey
Rated: Black Diamond
Located on Debeck’s Hill above the Alice Lake Provincial Park area, this trail features natural tech with a couple of short steep climbs, log ride, and tricky singletrack down to a large rock feature. It pretty much has enough going on to keep you excited, frustrated, exhilarated, and surprised the whole way along. The steep roll on this trail requires some technical maneuvering, or the chicken line for the faint-hearted. Best part is it the perfect gateway trail to other equally challenging trails on the mountain.
Beer Pairing: Howe Sound Super Jupiter Grapefruit ISA ABV: 4.5% IBU: 45
Pair this pucker with another – try the Howe Sound Super Jupiter Grapefruit Imperial Session Ale (ISA). This spring seasonal from Howe Sound delivers grapefruit, citrus, and tropical fruit notes from Centennial and Azacca hops for a refreshing and subtle kick in the mouth. Low in alcohol but high in flavor (and bittering units), this is one complex beer to match an equally complex trail.
Trail: Rigs in Zen
Rated: Double-Black Diamond
Check out trailforks.com for more information on rigs & zen
Considered one of the more physically challenging trailheads to get to, Rigs in Zen begins its descent high atop Debeck’s Hill behind a maintenance building for towers. This rough & rowdy natural singletrack packs plenty of steep ups & downs over some technical terrain for a total length of 1646 meters before joining up with Crouching Squirrel Hidden Monkey. If you want to see how technical Squamish can get, be sure to check out this hidden gem that overlooks Squamish.
Beer Pairing: Howe Sound Devil’s Elbow IPA ABV: 6.0% IBU: 68
While you’re packing grab the Devil’s Elbow IPA from Howe Sound – a strong, heavily hopped ale that boasts of six different hop varietals for an aggressive (yet fruity) hop aroma. This award-winning IPA will give you just the edge you might need while sharpening your skills on Squamish tech.
Trail: Penthouse Slab
Rated: Black Diamond
Want to take home bragging rights? The Penthouse Slab just might be the ticket with arguably the corridor’s longest exposed rock line. Start off on this trail just after Value-Added and test your mettle with the entry-feature: a rollable drop. Cruising along this trail until you come to a breathtaking view of the Squamish Valley and Chief and sharply descend the slab. Fret not, the rock tends to be quite grippy rain or shine; however, there is a chicken line to the left if you feel your lunch start to rise. Post-slab you’ll experience some more Squamish steep until you’re home safe and sound, and crying into your beer…
Beer Pairing: Russell Brewing’s Black Death ABV: 6.5% IBU: 53
We chose the aptly named Black Death Porter from local Russell Brewing for this trail. The heavy roasted malt balanced with a bitter hop aroma and extoling a high alcohol content will make this rich beer one to sip with a friend before holding on for dear life down the slab. The extra malty courage just might help calm the nerves as long as you know how to play within your limits.
Book a mountain bike guide to help you explore these trails and ales through SquamishAdventure.com and remember to play safe!