With 23 craft breweries in the city limits—and more brewing all the time—a hoppy haven is always just a hop, sip and jump away. Ready to raise your glass to the wealth of choice? Here are a few ways to dive into the city’s craft beer circuit.
By JILL VON SPRECKEN
Brewery Creek, once the turn-of-the-century hub of the local brewing scene, is enjoying a renaissance that has put the historic area back on the map. Anchored by hip-and-happening Main Street, a cluster of breweries offer sippers ranging from easy drinking to experimental. It’s the perfect jumping-off point for exploring craft beer by the flight or pint, and easily accessed on foot or—to really blend in with the locals—by bicycle.
33 ACRES The pristine aesthetic at this brewery and tasting room is a design buff’s dream, and the perfect locale for sipping the array of approachable beers. Quench your thirst with 33 Acres of Life, a smooth California-common-style beer, or 33 Acres of Sunshine, an unfiltered white ale. Unexpected but warmly welcomed: espresso drinks and a menu of locally sourced snacks, such as cheese, charcuterie and handmade ice cream.
BRASSNECK Reclaimed wood and zany artwork line the walls, while the frequently rotating taps attempt to keep pace with even the most enthusiastic beer lover’s thirst for new and inventive brews. Fill a tasting paddle with the eclectic pours, and be sure to include the flagship Passive Aggressive, a dry-hopped pale ale that is also the first beer ever brewed here.
MAIN STREET BREWING Tucked away just east of Main Street, this industrial heritage space serves a rotating menu of cask-conditioned beer alongside a solid selection of regular draft options such as Westminster Brown and the Saison No. 7, with its subtle splash of pepper and citrus. A small menu features beer-appropriate—and locally sourced—bites like wings and soft pretzels, perfect for fuelling long musings over ales and lagers.
RED TRUCK STOP This sleek tasting room is reminiscent of a classic truck-themed diner, and pours no-fuss brews such as N.W.A, a crisp and smooth Northwest pale ale, and the Red Truck Golden Ale, ripe with orange and coriander flavours. If the sun is shining, snag a spot on the patio and pair your sipper with menu items that run the gamut from hot dogs to New York–style cheesecake.
STEEL TOAD This refurbished industrial space boasts an airy mix of glass and wood, and small-batch brews that range from the authentic Yorkshire Best Bitter to the adventurous Raspberry Sour ale. Guest taps and bottles offer sips from farther-flung locales, and the menu has inventive bites, from bar snacks to cedar-plank salmon.
Tour de Hops
Take a peek behind the scenes—and share the experience with other hops aficionados—with a guided tour. Vancouver Brewery Tours whisks groups between local breweries, and offers a look into what happens beyond the tasting room walls. Cycle City Tours is perfect for pedal-pushers who prefer to see sights between suds, as the tour takes craft-beer enthusiasts through Vancouver’s historic neighbourhoods. Grab a few bottles or fill a growler; there’s room to take souvenir brews along for the ride. Want to satisfy your appetite and your curiosity for local lagers? Tag along on Craft Beer ’n’ Bites with Vancouver Food Tour, which proves that food-and-drink pairings aren’t just for wine anymore.
The city’s annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week (to Jun. 5) is a frothy celebration of beer, live music and special events. It all culminates at the three-day VCBW Festival (Jun. 3 to 5), which brings over 100 breweries and cideries—and more than 350 unique pours—to a single venue. Among the festivities: concerts on three stages, including acts like blues rockers Band of Rascals and alt-country quintet The Matinée, and bites from Cartems Donuterie and Big Red’s Poutine.
These local favourites set up shop beyond Brewery Creek, but are still worth seeking out. Find their sippers on drink menus or in their tasting rooms.
PARALLEL 49 brewing An East Van institution, this microbrewery is famed for its ever-evolving roster of inventive beers and equally inventive—and eye-catching—labels.
POSTMARK BREWING Housed in Railtown’s multi-purpose Settlement Building, the beers here are clean, unfussy and eminently crushable.
POWELL STREET This tiny start-up was catapulted from nano-brewery beginnings to fame when the Old Jalopy Pale Ale won “Beer of the Year” at the 2013 Canadian Brewing Awards.
STORM BREWING Established long before the craft beer craze, this unpretentious brewery serves seriously inventive small-batch beers like orange creamsicle ale and tropical mint pilsner.