Backcountry Brewing makes award winning beer, and offers a unique tasting room experience. Its team of owner-operators came from different parts of the province, all with the same vision to build a production brewery that included great room and food as a big feature of the tasting experience. Brewer John Folinsbee was planning a brewery in Squamish, industry veteran Marc Roberts had his sights on Vancouver while entrepreneur Ben Reeder and builder Adam Steinberg were looking at brewing in the Cowichan Valley on Reeder’s hop farm. After tasting John’s recipes they decided to go all in and combine forces to build the brewery, tasting room and kitchen in Squamish. Interior designer Tanja Nargang created a room that feels like a backcountry ski cabin circa 1975, complete with shingles, vintage decor, lanterns and tabletops made of local trail maps. They hired Chef “Artie” McGee, former Banquet Chef at the Four Seasons in Whistler in May 2018, to build out the tasting room menu. Backcountry beers have been recognized with several awards, including a BC Beer Award for “Best New Brewery” in 2017.
Question: How are you supporting other local businesses?
Answer: As standard practice, we buy local whenever we can. We source some of our hops from Maple Bay Hop Farm, and planted hop varieties with Backcountry in mind. Some of the things we need to brew aren’t available in Canada. We have to source brewing equipment, some of our brewing inventory (yeast, grain, hops), and some of our packaging materials from the U.S. We also try to buy green products, and aim to purchase from small, local owned suppliers whether it’s here or in the U.S.
In the kitchen, our chef sources local ingredients seasonally, and buys from many local food manufacturers. You’ll find so many of the items on our tasting menu come from local companies. We buy sausage from Oyama Sausage in Vancouver, sodas made by Philips in Victoria, CoCos Pure coconut water from Vancouver, and we support so many Squamish-area businesses too, from Spark Kombucha, Mountain Squeeze juices, Galileo Coffee and Lucas Teas.
Question: What social and environmental practices are you proud of?
Answer: We’re proud to employ about 40-50 locals – depending on the season – most of them from Squamish. We pay a living wage, and promote growth for staff both within the business, and in the industry. We provide outside training opportunities for staff development.
We support the community too – we love to raise money for local causes, from BC Cancer Foundation to the super local Community Christmas Care. We regularly donate to local raffles/events, host various fundraising events and yearly clothing swaps. We also collaborate with local companies, and promote and sponsor many, many local events. We also raise money by donating partial proceeds of product sales. We produce a signature beer Suck It Cancer, with the goal of raising 10k for the BC Cancer Foundation. Overall, our donations amount to quite a bit – approximately $15-20,000 per year.