When hammering out an itinerary for a trip, most people have their priorities in check: great spots for food, drinks and comfortable accommodation--in that exact order. Looking solely at the drinks category, the average person’s interest in craft beer is tenfold what is was just five years ago.
Being as small as it is with a population of 25,000 and change, Whitehorse boasts an impressive four micro-breweries peppered throughout the city. From a teeny, small-batch sour beer producer to a 23 year-old craft brewing institution, the beers you can drink range from plain ol’ crushable to complex and unique.
Here’s a comprehensive list of the breweries currently operating in the Yukon and what you can expect to find at each of them.
Deep Dark Wood Brewing Company
Beers to try: ever-changing
This smallest brewery of the bunch comes courtesy of brewer Matt Waugh and produces a variety of cultured beers that are exclusively fermented in oak barrels. The line-up here is always evolving, but frequently incorporates fruit into the mix. Visions, an Okanagan plum sour ale is one example of what’s currently up for the sipping.
Earlier this year, after visiting the humble brewery setup, I purchased several bottles of its Snafu ale, a golden ale made with blackberries and raspberries, and I have thought about it ever since.
To me, this is one of the most interesting micro-breweries to have opened in Western Canada in recent years.
Winterlong Brewing Co.
Beers to try: Mountain Hero (saison), Sweater Weather (oatmeal stout)
If Deep Dark Wood is the micro-micro of the bunch, then we can consider Winterlong more of the “Goldilocks”--just right and offers something for everyone.
The brewery and taproom is located near the region’s main ski hill Mount Sima and is co-owned by couple Marko (head brewer) and Meghan Marjanovic. Named after a famous Neil Young song, the brewery was the second micro-brewery in the territory after opening five years ago, but was the first to have a taproom (built in 2016).
With an annual production of 140,000 litres, Winterlong produces six standard beers in its line-up, as well as many seasonal brews throughout the year. In fall 2019, they swapped their packaging from bottles to cans and had a redesign of their labels to boot.
The brewery and taproom is located nearby the region’s main ski hill Mount Sima and is now open seven days a week.
Beers to try: Kolsch, Coffee Pale Ale
More of a brewpub and less of a full-fledged microbrewery, Woodcutter’s brews are exclusively served on-site in draught form.
The space--a near-century-old log cabin that’s been converted--is actually half brewpub and half cocktail bar with a small patio that Whitehorsers and tourists alike flock to during the warmer months.
Originally opened as a cocktail bar five years ago, Woodcutter’s Blanket added its accompanying brewing facility in 2019. At the hand of brewmaster Scott Shailer, it produces approximately 30,000 litres of beer last year, which is quite impressive considering that these beers are exclusively sold on-site.
Beers to try: Chilkoot (their original lager), Yukon Red (amber ale)
Opened 23 years ago under its original name, Chilkoot Brewing Co., this is the premiere microbrewery of the north and one of the longest-running microbreweries in all of Canada. So, you’ll most likely find Yukon Brewing on taps or liquor store shelves outside of the territory.
With a high level of production of hundreds of thousands of litres of beer per year, the brewery puts out a wide range of seasonal beers in addition to its staples, which include Yukon Red, Ice Fog and one of its original brews a lager entitled Chilkoot.
More recently, the business has expanded to distill spirits under the name Yukon Spirits, the sole distillery in the Yukon, making a variety of gins, whisky and more.