Cracking a Cask with Derrick Franche At The Brewhouse Whistler
We love our craft brews here in Whistler. Not only are we ardent appreciators of freshly brewed beer, we have a bunch of handily skilled brewers working right here in town. If you picked up the Pique last week you may have noticed a tall frosty one on the cover and Tobias c. van Veen’s feature story on the history and inner workings of the Whistler Brewing Company. Ever since brew maestro Joe Goetz took the helm of WBC it has been cranking out distinct flavors with unsurpassed quality – classics like Whiskey Jack Ale and Powder Mountain Lager, and more experimental brews like the Chestnut Ale and recently released Chai-Maple Ale.
Among the vats and kilns in the Brewhouse at Whistler (commonly confused with Whistler Brew Co, this is a restaurant-pub next to Olympic Plaza in the village) another brewmaster has been quietly brewing up his own set of unique flavors. Derrick Franche has worked as a brewer for his entire career and was even dabbling with home brew kits during his teenage years in Alberta.
“It’s something I started in high school actually,” said Franche.
“In Alberta you had to be 18 to buy beer, but you don’t have to be any age to buy the ingredients to make beer. That’s how I got wise to brewing my own beer.”
After high school Franche’s attended university studying towards a Bachelor of Science degree, but he dropped out to pursue his dream of brewing beer for a living after being offered a brewer position at Spinnakers Pub in Victoria, one of the oldest brew pubs in Canada.
“It’s all I’ve done for my adult life. I’m not qualified for much else,” said Franche.
Besides making sure that the five house beers (Big Wolf Bitter, Grizzly Brown Ale, Lifty Lager, Alta Lake Ale and 5 Rings IPA) are kept well in stock , Franche also hosts the Cask Night Series at the Brewhouse. Small batches of finished beer are packaged in these ‘mini kegs’ and more ingredients are added, fermenting the beer for a second time and bringing out the bold, hoppy flavors over about two weeks. The result is a truly unique version of one of the Brewhouse’s staple brews. The catch? It all gets drunk in one night, so if you’d like to taste it you’d better get down to Pubside at the Brewhouse 4-7pm on the last Wednesday of every month. Meet other appreciators and talk beer with the brewmaster himself, Derrick Franche.