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Winter Fresh (And a Little Fruity): The ‘Norquay 92’ Local Brew Is Now On Tap

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Head Brewer Miranda takes some time out from brewing, in the brewery at Banff Ave Brewing Co.

This week, we visit our friends at Banff Ave Brewing Co. as they uncap their seasonal cask of Norquay anniversary ale, a deliciously refreshing way to mark our 92nd season.  Here’s what happened when we went ‘behind the brew’ with Head Brewer Miranda Batterink. 

Ever tasted a Saison?  Ever even heard of one?  We hadn’t either.  But, let us tell you: it’s hella tasty.  Prepare to have your thirst seriously quenched, as the limited-edition, Norquay 92 cranberry and citrus Saison is now fresh on tap and ready to be savoured – available at select Banff locations during Norquay’s winter season.

Locals and loyal Alberta brew enthusiasts will know, that this Banff collaboration has been in the hopper for a few years now.  Starting with the Norquay team approaching their favourite watering hole to ask what it would take to create a locally-brewed variety to mark 90 years of ski in Banff National Park, plans for a special brew were quickly in the works.

“That was really where it all started,” says Kent Patterson, Community Beer Guy at Banff Ave. Brewing Co.

“It made complete sense.  The first – and only – brewery in Banff National Park, and the first ski resort in Banff National Park teaming up to create a new beer that told a local story, and had some real community heart to it,” Kent continues.

“It was a huge year for Banff and the deep-rooted ski culture we have here, so we just had to create a tasty Norquay 90 – and we did,” adds Kent with a grin.

For Norquay’s 90th year [back in 2016 – Norquay was established in 1926, as the very first ski resort in the Canadian Rockies], the brewery team produced a nice Kolsch; light and crisp.

It proved to be a popular choice, and the Norquay 90 flowed through the taps and satisfied thirsty Banff dwellers throughout the season.  Then came the Norquay 91.

“For Norquay’s 91st year, we started to get creative,” says Kent.

“We brewed an Alberta Wheat Ale, using wheat that had been harvested from a farm just outside of Calgary – it was a real Alberta beer.”

He continues: “Since we started the collab, our signature Norquay brews have really built momentum, becoming somewhat of a tradition in our brewery.  Each year we want to do something different, original; invent something that both locals and visitors to town are going to want to try.  We like to be creative and keep our Norquay blends interesting, that’s for sure.”

Creative brewing you say?  Enter Miranda, Banff Ave. Brewing Co.’s sassy, meticulous, and “beer-nerdy” [her words not ours] Head Brewer.

A Grad of the Brew Master’s Program at Niagara College, this Ontario resident has settled into Banff life nicely, having been in her role as Head Brewer since October 2016.  Excited by the industry, armed with brewing know-how, and keen to be a part of the Alberta’s craft beer explosion [or Albeerta as the folks at Banff Ave. Brewing Co would have you say], Miranda packed her bags and moved out West – and hasn’t looked back.

For Norquay’s 92 brew, it was over to Miranda to write the seasonal recipe – and her thirst for experimentation and adding a little flair to the mix led her to try a first for Banff Ave Brewing Co. [this is where the Saison comes in].

“I had to get the creative juices flowing,” Miranda says.

“I wanted to do justice to the 92nd year, and I see so much local pride for Norquay.  It was important for me to create a blend that was going to get the thumbs up from the local crowd,” she adds.

Miranda placed her bets on adding fruit flavours to this edition of the Norquay collaboration – and it certainly passed our taste test.

“The Saison is a French-Belgian style of beer,” explains Miranda.

She continues: “It has lots of yeast-derived, spicy, fruity complexities to it.  To create those flavours, we added orange rind at the boil stage of the brewing process, and then cranberries at the secondary fermentation, giving a citrusy, fruity finish.”

Well, we’re confident that the Norquay 92 brew is going to be as, if not more, popular than its beer predecessors.

“There’s really been a great demand for the Norquay seasonal in previous years,” says Kent.

“Restaurants in Banff and Canmore have requested it for their winter menus, and we think the Saison could be another bestseller.  It’s fresh and different, and our brew community always respond well to that,” Kent adds.

First brewed in early November, and having been perfecting in the conditioning rooms [where it was resting when we visited the brewery], the Norquay 92 cranberry and citrus Saison is now available on draft – available at Banff Ave Brewing Co., Mt. Norquay’s Lone Pine Pub in the Cascade Lodge, and a select number of local restaurants and bars.

So, cheers to supporting local!

Head Brewer Miranda Batterink enjoying the Norquay 92 Saison with the locals, at Banff Ave Brewing Co.

Photo: John Evely

Bozo Memorial weekend 2017 Recap

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The ski racing and Bow Valley communities came together for the annual Bozo Cup race. It’s always a great spectacle and perfect reason for the community to come together and have a great time. Pete Bozinger put on a great head to head slalom event overlooking Cascade Lodge. Past and present Members of the Canadian Alpine ski team came out to carve out some exciting races vying for the $10000 in cash and prizes. Of course in true Norquay ‘fashion’ quite a few locals donned silly costumes and ear to ear grins.

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Laugh and learn on the lifts: Creative approach delights young skiers in Banff

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Laughter and learning go hand-in-hand – just ask Mt Norquay ski instructor Jasmine Brown.

After completing her instructor certification with Norquay’s Snow School last year, Jasmine returned for her second ski season this week. And on her first day back on the hill, she marked a very happy reunion.

One of the very first students she taught last season was a three-year-old named Gillian, skiing for the first time. By chance, this year they shared their first day of the season, once again.

“It was a big coincidence – we were so excited! This year, she was keen from the start and grinned the whole time. Her parents asked if she wanted to take another lesson, and she said, ‘Yes! I want Jasmine!’, which was lovely to hear.”

Specialising in kid’s lessons, Jasmine is on a mission to make her lessons fun.

“Last year she took a while to feel comfortable, so we turned it into a game. Sometimes when she was putting on her mittens, her thumbs wouldn’t go in the right places, so we skied around the mountain to ‘find her thumbs’,” Jasmine says.

Jasmine says her Norquay training improved her own skiing, and provided more techniques to engage with kids, such as tailoring unique games to each child – just like with Gillian.

“With one group last season, we played a game to get them turning. I found out that they loved Star Wars, so we’d pretend we were on another planet using light sabers. It was a lot of fun to hear the sound effects as we skied around the mountain,” Jasmine says.

“Another group of kids hadn’t skied before, and they were obsessed with dogs and huskies. So we used a wolf call throughout the lesson to let each other know where we were. They loved it, especially when we howled to each other on the chairlift.”

For Jasmine, teaching small groups and enjoying one-on-one interactions with kids are highlights of her role.

“You need to build a bond so they trust you. When you’re their friend, they will listen to you, so we ask questions to create games that they can relate to. They love the make-believe, so when you involve them in a story, they really get into it,” she says.

Each year, the Gap Program is one way that Mt Norquay Snow School recruits high-calibre instructors, like Jasmine. It’s an intensive instructor training course where participants work hard to achieve their certification, attend lessons while shadowing senior instructors, then lead their own lessons for the rest of the season.

“The program was brilliant. It was crazy how much they could help us change our skiing in just two weeks. And it’s so rewarding to see how far the kids come in a single lesson – when they’re having a great time, they want to keep skiing!”

Hailing from England, Jasmine joined the program to share her passion with others and experience winter adventure overseas. Like many visitors to Banff, she intended to stay one season, but felt called to return.

“I just fell in love with Banff and the teaching. Now, six of us have come back for a second season, living together after becoming really good friends.”

Strong people skills and experience working with children are two of the most important factors that Norquay Snow School seeks from prospective instructors. Jasmine was a perfect fit, having volunteered as a student mentor with younger peers at while at high school, and helping her dad teach kids about horses during his work as a horse-riding instructor.

Hitting the slopes with her “ski-mad” family since she was three, Jasmine grew up skiing around the world – but she says Norquay will always have a very special place in her heart.

“I love Norquay because it has some really challenging terrain. Some of the blue runs on Spirit and Mystic would be classed as blacks in Europe, so I love testing myself here. The snow off the North American Chair is great, and the Mystic runs also have really good snow and are really fun to ski. Every time you go up on the first chairlift, it’s an amazing feeling.”

And what advice would Jasmine suggest for anyone who might feel apprehensive about booking a lesson, for their child or for themselves?

“We will help you feel confident. There’s no pressure, it’s tailored to your pace and your level, and at the end of the day it’s all about having fun.”

To book a lesson with Jasmine, or other passionate instructors at Norquay Snow School, or to find out more, visit banffnorquay.com or phone 403-760-7716.

Norquay Ski Run Origins Rudi's Alley – Rudi Gertsch

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Rudi Gertsch – Rudi’s Alley #11

Early extreme skier and star of one of Bruno Engler’s iconic Norquay photos

Skiing at Mt Norquay for years, I’ve always been drawn to one Bruno Engler image of a young skier in leather boots and classic ski sweater jumping off the top of the Cliffhouse with awestruck on-lookers below. Rudi Gertsch was one of the best freeskiers in Banff at the time and a great pioneer to adventure skiing in Canada.

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New Routes are next level says ACMG guide

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Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 12.02.57 PMScreen Shot 2017-06-27 at 12.03.10 PMI had the opportunity to grab a sneak peek at this years big update to the Norquay Via Ferrata with some of the ACMG guides that will be guiding guests. I couldn’t be more pumped!

 

We went up on the start of the explorer route and soul slabs which offer a good warmup to the main event for the new Skyline and Summiteer routes.

The Skyline and Summiteer are rated at 5 hours and 6 hours, respectively. These are some of the most ambitious VF adventures to date and we’re highly excited to be offering even more with our tourism marketing for the upcoming season.

Once on the climbing portion I was surprised to get in a really cool chimney feature with holds on both sides of the precipice of the rock. We all agreed this was the most vertical climbing on the Via Ferrata and guide Tim even chimed in with “this is next level”.

I found the climbing flowed very well as it follows up the buttress onto the ladder feature and then continues across a high cliff (climbing the whole way) which kept my focus away from camera work and my hands and feet busy on the traverse. A new 2 wire bridge completes the corner traverse with a bit of a balancing act. After that the star of the show, a 150+ foot long suspension bridge!

The original Explorer and Ridgewalker routes do the suspension bridge right away,  however these new routes leave the spectacular steps through space for close to the end of the climb. Putting the bridge that high up was amazing as you really get the feeling of walking above the whole mountain! The bridge itself is 3 times longer than the first bridge above the Cliffhouse Bistro, and the view opens right up to the whole valley. Amazing!

Head guide, John Thornton

Head guide, John Thornton

John Thornton, Norquay’s head of the guide program and ACMG Mountain Guide, created this route from what he called ‘the natural alpinist routes’ that he sees around the mountain. I look at this same rock face and don’t see anything, but John weaves some magic to create a very memorable climbing experience.

Although I don’t call myself an alpinist, I have some experience climbing, and this new route got my heart pumping! I love the fact that I can take my Dad or hiking friends on the Via Ferrata to give them a taste of what I love in the mountains.

On Canada’s 150th birthday will be the first opportunity for public to climb it. Come check them out for yourself and adventure close to Banff! Click below for more route information and booking options: https://summer.banffnorquay.com/adventures/via-ferrata/routes/