Last week we featured Part 1 of our BC Beer Sojourn. Today, the adventure continues with Train Wreck Trail and Whistler Brewing Company.
Just around the corner from Whistler Brewing Company, the Flank Trail is a short, easy hike out to a train wreck in the woods. Begin at the unassuming trailhead in Function Junction. Marked by rough signs and arrows, the trail meanders through the woods, beneath Sea to Sky highway’s tattooed underbelly, and along the Cheakamus River. Flank Trail criss-crosses the train tracks several times: flirting with the river a bit, then visiting the highway, and back to the river again. It’s possible to shorten your hike significantly by walking directly along the tracks. However, do so at your own risk. Walking on the tracks is illegal and unsuspecting hikers have been ticketed in the past.
Another benefit to staying on the trail is scenery: an impressive waterfall graces the Cheakamus River in these parts. Not far past the falls you will arrive at the train wreck. Behold the wreckage: several train cars strewn about the forest, each one covered in graffiti art. Local bikers have turned the area into an impromptu bike park with ramps leading up, over, and down many of the cars. The wreck happened in 1957 or 58', history of it hazy. Whistler hadn't become the cosmopolitan ski resort it is today, and the town didn't have the funds to take on the costly clean-up. Now, the wreck is a hidden gem in Whistler. Return the way you came, allowing around 1.5 hours round trip. Afterwards, stop by Whistler Brewing Company for a crisp, refreshing pint of BC beer.
Initially opened in 1989, Whistler Brewing Company has seen many changes over the years. In 2001, Whistler's beer was being brewed by Bear Brewing in Kamloops. In an attempt to keep a little bit of Whistler in the product, glacial water from Cheakamus Lake was shipped all the way to Kamloops by trailer truck. The current location in Function Junction opened just in time for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics—the space was previously a bus depot, and opened in 2009. Only two of their beers are still being brewed in Kamloops and Whistler Brewing is expanding, hoping to move all brewing and bottling to the Function Junction location.
Whistler Brewing sources much of its ingredients locally (as much as possible), including Pemberton hops and malts from Alberta. Spent grain is sent to local bakeries, and the brewery also strives to be as organic as possible. The flagship is still the best beer on the menu—if you only have one beer, make it the Black Tusk. The Whiskey Jack Amber is also a great choice. Two more interesting beers to check out are the “perfect patio” Paradise Valley Grapefruit Blonde, and the Valley Trail Chestnut Ale. The Chestnut Ale was perhaps one of the sweetest beers I've ever tasted, with strong vanilla tones. Like many B.C. beers, all of Whistler Brewing Company’s beers are filtered and crisp—something that takes some getting used to when you're accustomed to full-bodied brews of Oregon and Washington.