Living in Calgary I’ve learned many things: the incredible power of community, the strength that comes from diversity, and the absolute magic of a chinook wind. When Calgary shows us its teeth and temperatures reach below 20 degrees, Calgarians flock indoors and wait patiently for that warm wind from the west. And what better activity to partake in, while escaping the frigid cold, than a beer tasting? My good friend, Natasha and I walked into National on 8th and entered the Tap Room. What caught my eye first was the inadvertently sexual promotional video for Whistler Brewing Company being projected on a screen at the front of the room. Men pulling pints, hoses squirting water, malt and barley being poured into giant barrels— all in slow motion…
We took our seats at one of the tables, took turns trying on the Christmassy table decorations, and allowed Don, the rep for Whistler Brewing Company, to take us on a trip down memory lane and tell us about the origins of the brewery. In 1989, when the Whistler Brewing Company originated, it was one of the first craft breweries of its kind in British Columbia. They pride themselves on keeping the perfect balance of tradition and progression, and brew authentic craft beer that really speaks for itself.
The tasting began. The chefs at National on 8th took turns explaining to us what we were eating, and Natasha Pieskar, the brand manager for National, explained each food and beer pairing. The evening is a blur of decadent AF food— foie gras, bacon-wrapped paté, elk carpaccio, halibut in Dugléré sauce (whatever that means), white bean cassoulet, and that’s only half of it— and deliciously paired beers. My favourites were the Chestnut Ale, which was sweet and caramel-y; the Cashmere India Session Ale, which was citrusy and grapefruity and paired with the crab and truffle ravioli; and the Black Tusk Ale, which has an entire trophy case dedicated to it and its many national and international awards. We also learned about all the in-house prep the kitchen team at National does. House-made bacon, mustard, paté, sauces, all of it was made by this incredible team!
Natasha and I ate it all and felt like royalty. The food plates kept coming, the beers seemed bottomless, and the company around us was such fun. We sat next to Hayden and Jill, two beer connoisseurs who were just as excited as we were by the plates of food adorning our table. It was all just so delicious. Once again, the team at National wowed me and my tastebuds. Next time I am buying beer, you can bet your bottom dollar I will be walking out with a few bottles from the Whistler Brewing Company.
Thanks for the food, National, thanks for the beer WBC! And thanks for the escape from the cold, Calgary!