Elyse Johnson

Bent Pole comes to Whitewater

Special brew celebrates ski hill’s 40th anniversary.

When Whitewater Ski Resort opens for the season Saturday morning there will be a new tap exclusively serving a special anniversary brew.

The unfiltered India pale ale, bottled this week at Nelson Brewing Company, is called Bent Pole.

“This is a tribute to our favourite ski hill and everything it embodies,” NBC’s Chad Hansen told the Star. “We love that mountain and everything it stands for. Being able to do a 40th anniversary beer means a lot to us.”

Partly, that’s because their families are intertwined.

“Our brewer, Mike Kelly, has four boys up at the hill all the time. They’re on the Freeride team, they’re totally involved. I’m at the bunny hill stage with my kids right now, but that can be just as good as an intense powder day because it’s memories that stay with you forever.”

NBC teamed up with Whitewater before, to make Wild Honey for its 25th anniversary, a beer that took on a life of its own.

“People loved it and it just sort of took off,” Hansen said. “We started at just the ski hill initially, but then the demand was so high we put it on tap everywhere.”

Hansen said Kelly “hit a home run” with Bent Pole, which is their first unfiltered beer in a long time.

“This morning when I did the first tasting I held it up and looked through the glass. It was nice and hazy like an unfiltered beer should be,” he said. “For a person that’s a fan of big, flavourful beers, a filtered beer has a lot of the flavour filtered out.”

Not so with this beer.

“I took a sip and it was like a punch to the tastebuds at first. Then it settled off, then I wanted to take another sip. And another.”

Hansen is thrilled about the beer label, which features a black and white photo by local photographer Dave Heath.

“All I did was harvest Kootenay vibes for this,” he said. “This is our first person on a label. She’s female, she’s killing it, and you can tell.”

In the photo the woman is holding up a bent pole, giving the ale its moniker, while she crashes through snowy branches on her skis.

“This is a typical sick powder day at Whitewater. She’s charging through it and the bent pole ties into the whole ethos up there. Like ‘I may not have the newest, shiniest, flashiest gear but I’m riding one of the best mountains with the best snow in the world.’ And even if your pole’s bent you don’t care, you’re not slowing down or giving up.”

Hansen hopes once the hill starts serving the beer on Saturday, it will become a crucial aspect of the Whitewater experience. He doesn’t take for granted how “rare and huge” their relationship with the hill is.

“For Whitewater to only serve NBC is incredible, and it’s a part of supporting the local community. When you go up there we want you to have an experience you won’t get anywhere else.”