Co-owner Linda Parker of Sherwood Mountain Brewery says she wants people to come in and share their own stories over a pint of their local craft beer. (Natalia Balcerzak/Photo)

Skeena Voices | Once upon a brewery

Sherwood Mountain’s Linda Parker says adventures are best paired with beer

Behind every pint of beer, there’s a story to be told.

And at the Sherwood Mountain Brewery, co-owner Linda Parker says there’s plenty of tales to be found.

“It’s all about imagination, you’re creating a storyline that starts here and can go anywhere,” she says. “You can create your own images, landscape and playground… It means something more if you know a little bit of the story behind it.”

Founded in 2014, Sherwood Mountain was named after the mythical Sherwood Forest from Robin Hood and made Friar Tuck (the protagonist’s companion) the face of their brand.

After seeing the Broadway musical Wicked, the untold tale of the Wizard of Oz, Parker says they were inspired by “other side of the story” and wanted to incorporate that into their own narrative at the brewery.

“What inspired some of this is that you think you know the story, but do you really? And that was the whole thing with the Friar because there is no Sherwood Mountain here, [we just fictionalized it],” Parker says. “If you look on our growlers, you’ll notice there are different chapters… it’s basically about the Friar who has been inspired by Europe and has come back here to brew beer.”

Alongside the regional allusions, such as the Lava Bed Red Ale or the Seven Sisters Stout, are “tongue-in-cheek” references hidden throughout the brewery and its products to the fantastical world that Parker and Darryl Tucker, her friend and co-partner in business, have created together.

They’ve also introduced more characters such as The Surveyor and Marian, a female harvester who carries a persona that represents Parker in the mystical realm.

“She hunts and gathers, I guess it’s a bit of a tribute to me [because] do you really know who Marian is? I love the last line where she’s gathering hops into her satchel for a beer-loving friend in town, which is Tucker.”

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When it comes to running the brewery, Parker is “behind the scenes” as she says Tucker likes to be the host. She takes care of all the “boring stuff” like dealing with finances and operational duties to ensure the stage is set for another encore at the beerhouse.

But putting on a show takes rehearsing and before Sherwood Mountain made its debut, Parker played a part in some bookmark-worthy chapters in Terrace.

When Shames Mountain was on the verge of closing down, she was a member of the Friends of Shames initiative and played a big role in turning the ski hill into a co-op to save its existence. She took charge in rallying local businesses to help raise money, as they needed approximately $1 million to buy out the private corporation. She even convinced the late Curtis Billey to join their board so he could use his financial expertise to negotiate with the banks to forgive the debts and source more funding.

“A lot of the friends I have now are from the ski hill… It’s a great hill, we get a lot of snow, and it’s awesome but it’s also a part of who we are,” she says. “If there’s a ski hill here, I know all my friends will be here.”

For Parker, Terrace has everything to offer for an outdoorsy person. She says that having the mountains, rivers and the ocean nearby has given her a lifestyle she would never trade.

Alongside her enthusiasm for skiing and biking, she’s been a paddler for about three decades which is how she met both Tucker and her life partner, Patrick Colgan.

The Parker’s IPA label is another nimble homage to Parker. In appreciation of her and Colgan’s friendship to Tucker, he illustrated a design of two oars crossed and dipped into the water with their names on it. Looking at the inscription on the label’s left side, one can read that it’s “best paired with good friends on long wilderness river adventures.”

“It’s about pairing beer with experience… we want people taking our beer on their adventures,” she says. “I think you learn a lot about yourself when you’re going on adventures if you’re paying attention. It helps with some reflection… it’s to learn who you are and how you relate to other people.”

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Now in her fifties, she never envisioned her love of beer and adventuring would lead her to open up a brewery in town. Recognizing a need for local craft beer and a gathering place for all, Tucker and her brought their talks of such a place from beginning to end within less than a year.

“We started in March 2014 and it was opened by December [that year]… It was hard not to get teary because we opened around Christmas time.”

Although four years in the craft beer industry had its share of plot twists, Parker says they’ve had great community support and want to keep their beer local, affordable and of good quality.

“Our objective is not to grow this into infinity, it’s to grow to a comfortable spot where we can service the people and businesses in the Northwest,” she says. “It’s supposed to be meant for our backyard.”

Everything at Sherwood Mountain Brewery is riddled with intent. Parker says they’re visible off the highway so anyone can just “swing in” after their day out and it stands as an enticing invitation to any passing travelers. Their open-concept interior was created to give guests a glimpse into the potion-like process of how their beer is brewed, from hop to glass.

And there isn’t a lot of sitting space either, as they want their beer-drinking fans to mingle amongst one another and get to know each other’s stories, she says.

“We’ve been super lucky. People like our beer, I like our beer… You just can’t have a mug of beer without a smile on your face.”

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