British Columbia is the birthplace of Canada’s craft beer industry, and Vancouver is a fantastic place to explore the scene. The past five years have seen a spike in taste and interest in ales, lagers, stouts and pilsners brewed in the region, and currently there are more than 100 breweries to for beer lovers to taste through. Many of these craft brewers take advantage of the quality ingredients produced by the province’s mild climate, including hops, barley, honey, raspberries, cherries and other seasonal fruit. The result is fresh-tasting beer with more complex flavours than many of the national and international brands, and it’s because of the quality of the region’s brews that there’s increasing demand for them.
There are three main ways for hop-heads visiting Vancouver to experience the city’s excellent craft beer scene – hit a brewery tasting room or brewpub to sample ales created on-site, take a brewery tour, or belly up to the bar at one of many restaurants that offer a large selection of craft beers on tap.
Tasting Rooms and Tours
Many of Vancouver’s craft breweries are close to downtown, sitting in clusters that make them easy to explore a few tasting rooms on foot. Tasting rooms are usually intimate affairs attached to brewing operation, allowing you to sample in “taster” sized glasses. Most will have some light snacks available, but don’t expect a full meal. There are five or so great spots along the Main Street corridor, between East 2nd and East 8th Avenues, and another grouping a bit further east, around Clark and Powell Streets. For a great map of the breweries, visit the B.C. Craft Brewers Guild online, then grab a growler (a refillable bottle) and get out there!
To get an insider’s take on the suds scene, consider taking a tour which pairs transportation—and an all-important designated driver, along with knowledgeable commentary from your guide, and samples at each stop. Some great tours to check out are those offered by Vancouver Brewery Tours and Vine & hops Wine & Craft Beer Tours.
If you’d rather sample a brewery’s wares while grabbing a bite to eat, then one of Vancouver’s brew pubs is the place for you. There are options all over the city for you to sample craft beers, brewed on site. Some of the ales, stouts, sours, porters and lagers can also be picked up in a six pack for you to take home and share with your friends and family.
In Gastown, visit Steamworks Brewing Company and sip a Jasmine IPA while enjoying the stunning view across to the North Shore Mountains. In Railtown (the area just east of Gastown), drop by The Belgard Kitchen where they offer beers from on-site Postmark Brewery, along with upwards of 30 wines on tap. Take advantage of Yaletown Brewing Company’s large urban patio while you slurp on a cold one, or head to Dockside Restaurant on Granville Island and take in the waterside happenings as you sample their Cartwright Pale Ale. If you happen to be in the Main Street area crawling the tasting rooms, pay Steel Toad Brewpub a visit for a Saison Sauvignon, or head a few blocks east to Big Rock Urban Brewery for a Rhubarb Wit or a Rauschbier.
Restaurants for Sampling Beers
In Vancouver, you’ll find that most restaurants, bars and lounges will offer a decent selection of locally brewed beers. But there are places that go above and beyond, offering up to 100 taps that cover both the local scene as well as global favourites. The Tap & Barrel restaurants in both Olympic Village and Coal Harbour offer waterfront views with their brews, while CRAFT Beer Market, also in Olympic Village, boasts over 100 beers on tap, many of them from craft brewers. Out in Kitsilano, check out The Bimini Public House where you can work your way through a good selection of local brews, as you can at The Three Brits Public House by English Bay, and at The Blackbird Public House & Oyster Bar right downtown.
❐ Visit our page on Vancouver Craft Beer Week.
❐ Check out our self-guided walking tour of East Van breweries here.
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