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Jill Von Sprecken

Vancouver’s Craft Beer Circuit

Not sure where to start when it comes to Vancouver’s craft beer scene? In two of the city’s hoppiest hoods, plenty of local breweries are just a hop, sip and jump away

By JILL VON SPRECKEN + Photos by KK LAW
Oct. 2018

33 Acres

Brewery Creek

Anchored by trendy Main Street, Brewery Creek is the epicentre of Vancouver’s craft brewing revival. It’s a fitting evolution for the historic area, as the city’s first brewery was established here—Vancouver Brewery, in 1889. Now the edgy neighbourhood is studded with chic tasting rooms and more beer varieties than you can shake a stout at.

33 Acres

The pristine aesthetic of this brewery’s tasting room could be lifted from the pages of Architectural Digest magazine, the perfect backdrop for the line-up of approachable brews on tap. Quench your thirst with sips like 33 Acres of Life, a California-common-style beer, or 33 Acres of Darkness, a toasty dark lager. Plus, the extensive menu pleases all palates with espresso beverages and locally sourced bites that range from warm German pretzels to poached eggs to steak sandwiches. 

Brassneck

A rotating roster of small-batch, experimental beers—they’ve brewed more than 100 different varieties so far, and counting—keeps this lively tasting room hopping, while reclaimed wood and zany artwork make it an ideal spot to sit and sip awhile. This is a great place to bend your beer boundaries, but be sure to add the flagship Passive Aggressive to your tasting paddle. Still a fan favourite, the dry-hopped pale ale was the first beer ever brewed here. 

Red Truck

Red Truck

Thirsty? Luckily, finding this no-nonsense brewery is easy—a 24-m- (79-ft-) tall water tower marks the spot. The retro-meets-industrial taproom pours no-fuss favourites like the Road Trip Classic Lager, Czech Point Red Pilsner and Round Trip Amber Ale. If you’re hungry too, pair your sipper with diner-style dishes like loaded hot dogs, chilli, burgers and wings. Or for a throwback treat with an adults-only update, try a beer-and-ice-cream float. 

Main Street

Situated in a cheerful-looking heritage building, this bustling brewery’s high ceilings and exposed brick walls lend it a laid-back feel. A rotating menu of cask-conditioned beers complements seasonal selections and year-round staples, like the Main Street Pilsner and the Old Knights Pale Ale, with its subtle splash of pine and citrus. The casual menu features a range of beer-appropriate bites, like soft pretzels, nachos and tacos, that are the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon spent sipping. 

Parallel 49

East Vancouver

More than a dozen breweries and taprooms dot this up-and-coming neighbourhood—also known as Yeast Van—including local stalwarts that led the craft beer charge. Exploring on foot? Note that this area is more spread out than its Brewery Creek counterpart, so plan for longer distances between pints. Other options include tours with companies like Vancouver Brewery Tours (page 64), or doing as the locals do and using pedal power.

Parallel 49

Cartoony labels and tongue-in-cheek names—like the Trash Panda Hazy IPA, Wobbly Pop Pale Ale, and Schadenfreude Pumpkin Oktoberfest—have been this microbrewery’s calling card since they opened their doors in 2012. The recently revamped tasting room is just as eye-catching: a food truck parked inside the brewery will crush any food cravings, while the rotating taps keep pace with even the most enthusiastic beer lover’s thirst for new brews. 

Strathcona Beer Company

This concrete-and-wood-trimmed brewery is decked out with communal tables and cozy booths—choose your seat depending on how friendly you’re feeling. On tap, the ever-changing offerings may include favourites like the well-balanced Premium Pilsner, the lemon-and-mandarin-infused Beach Radler or the hazy N.E. IPA. If you’re planning to stay awhile, the food menu features gourmet thin-crust pizzas, alongside seasonal salads and snacks like popcorn and charcuterie. 

Andina Brewing Company

Andina

The yellow façade adorned with the brewery’s female mascot—known as La Pola, after a Colombian heroine who helped the country gain independence—makes this cheerful taproom hard to miss. The South American flavour extends to the brewery, the first in Canada to use Patagonia malt. For the full experience, pair a sugarcane-spiked Melcocha Andean Ale with one of the many varieties of ceviche or plantain chips. 

Storm Brewing

Looking for a truly unique tasting room experience? This pint-sized brewery delivers just that. Established long before the craft beer craze, this unpretentious space is famous for seriously inventive small-batch beers (appropriately called “brainstorms”) that include past pours like Peanut Butter Cup Stout, Cherry Bomb Ale and Pineapple Paradise Pilsner. But take note: this madcap brewery is a gritty, standing-room-only space that offers samples of their beers—no pints or flights—served in plastic cups for a cash donation. Now that’s an experience. 

Clowning Around: Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Costumes by Dominique Lemieux

Oct. 10 to 14, 2018 Corteo is staged around a once-in-a-lifetime event: the funeral of Mauro the clown. The colourful character dreams his own circus-themed celebration of life, which includes acrobats bouncing off beds, a live marionette, aerialists swinging from chandeliers, and a performer who floats above the crowd aided by gigantic helium balloons. It’s all the death-defying feats, eye-catching costumes and mesmerizing music that Cirque du Soleil is famous for. Definitely worth adding to your bucket list.

Coolest Concerts of Autumn: From JT to Jay-Z

By JILL VON SPRECKEN
Oct/Nov 2018

Photo by Ryan McGinley

On Nov. 8 and 9, Justin Timberlake brings sexy back to Rogers Arena. The pop powerhouse is taking hits like “Rock Your Body” and “Cry Me a River” on the road to promote his chart-topping album Man of the Woods. He’s in good company, too, as a steady stream of pop and rock icons raise the roof at the arena and BC Place: Def Leppard and Journey (Oct. 1), Jay-Z and Beyoncé (Oct. 2), Luke Bryan (Oct. 13), Drake (Nov. 3 and 4) and Fleetwood Mac (Nov. 14). With a line-up like that, it’s hard not to “Let the Groove Get In.” 

Devoted to Dumplings

By JILL VON SPRECKEN
Sep. 2018

Delicious dishes await on the Dumpling Trail

Of all the spectacular trails—hiking, biking or otherwise—to conquer around Vancouver, the Dumpling Trail is arguably the most satisfying. Nearby Richmond is famed for top-notch Asian cuisine, so it’s no surprise that 20 restaurants offering delectable dumplings are all just a hop, skip and bite away. As with any trail, a map, sturdy walking shoes and stretchy pants are recommended. Along the way, discover dough-wrapped specialties such as prawn-stuffed har gow and soup-filled xiao long bao. Regional offerings like bubble tea, kimchi and hand-pulled noodles make excellent trail companions, too. A truly tasty trek.

Bucket List: Bungee Jump Over a Glacier-Fed River

By JILL VON SPRECKEN
Sep. 2018

Photo by Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler

What do actor Zac Efron, comedian Rick Mercer and Paralympian Rick Hansen have in common? They’ve all taken the plunge with Whistler Bungee. The high-octane attraction draws thousands of thrill-seekers each year, including a few famous faces. Whether you leap, free-fall, swan-dive—or backflip, like Zac Efron—from 50 m (160 ft) above the glacier-fed Cheakamus River, the exhilaration and old-growth-forest views are the same. And if you can cross “celebrity spotting” off your bucket list at the same time, all the better.

Grand Finale: Personal Highlights from the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Long-Time Curator

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

“Fall (Modality 16)” by Jock Macdonald (Image courtesy the Vancouver Art Gallery)

Sep. 22 to Mar. 17, 2018 Thirty years, more than 80 exhibits and one Order of Canada all add up to one extraordinary career for curator Ian Thom. In the Vancouver Art Gallery’s A Curator’s View: Ian Thom Selects, the esteemed retiree presents a final round-up of personal highlights from the permanent collection, including works by Jock Macdonald (pictured), Emily Carr and many others.

Local Linens by Flax Sleep

By JILL VON SPRECKEN
Sep. 2018

Linens by Flax Sleep are sure to inspire dreams of Vancouver

Sweet dreams are made of Flax Sleep’s luxe linens. Early birds and night owls alike love the Vancouver-based label’s beautiful bedding, crafted from 100 percent French flax. That’s because linen is stronger, softer and more durable than cotton, plus it’s naturally hypoallergenic and antibacterial. Even the environmentally savvy can rest easy: flax is more sustainable than other crops, using less water, energy and pesticides to produce. To cozy up to these bed sheets, score a set online at www.flaxsleep.com or at Gastown’s Litchfield. A dream come true.

In the Spotlight: Vancouver International Film Festival

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Photo ©Ulia Koltyrina/Fotolia.com

Sep. 27 to Oct. 12, 2018 Grab some popcorn and settle in—the Vancouver International Film Festival is on silver screens across the city. In the limelight this year are over 200 features and 100 short films hailing from more than 70 countries, plus a host of events, workshops and live performances. It’s one of the largest showcases of Canuck films in the world, so it’s guaranteed to have fans of Canadian cinema on their feet. Documentaries and East Asian films also play strong supporting roles. In that case, better make that popcorn a large.

Sean William Randall: In the Blue Future Exhibit

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

“In the Future” by Sean William Randall (Courtesy the artist)

Sep. 8 to 30, 2018 “Garden variety” isn’t how you’d describe Sean William Randall’s paintings. His super-saturated acrylic-on-canvas works are imbued with a strong sense of place—a nod to the Canadian artist’s former career as an architect—which, coupled with his keen colour sense, makes Randall one to watch. For an earthly garden of works that delight, visit Ian Tan Gallery’s In the Blue Future. The exhibit is an oasis of detailed acrylic-on-canvas pieces such as “In the Future” (pictured). This is one garden path we don’t mind being led down.

Enchanted Woods: Vallea Lumina

Mountain forest turned magical

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

At Vallea Lumina, magic awaits at every turn

To Oct 15, 2018 At Vallea Lumina, a nighttime walk in the woods isn’t eerie—it’s enchanting. Located just outside Whistler on Cougar Mountain, this immersive evening experience transforms the old-growth forest into a magical trail, where the trees talk and campfires come to life. The after-dark alchemy is another of The Adventure Group’s memorable offerings, although they had a little help from Montreal-based Moment Factory, a multimedia studio that’s collaborated on everything from Cirque du Soleil to Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime show. (more…)

On the Brink: Vancouver Fringe Festival

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Diana Bang in Self-ish

Sep. 6 to 16, 2018 For a theatre experience on the edge—of your seat, that is—don’t miss the Vancouver Fringe Festival. Over 11 days, more than 700 shows and 90 artists take over every nook, cranny and stage on Granville Island and beyond. Catch groundbreaking performances such as Self-ish (pictured). This one-woman play featuring Vancouver actor Diana Bang brings a comedic touch to universal themes of grief and tragedy. Get ready to bend some boundaries.

Fashion Designers Laurence & Chico’s Weird, Wonderful Cafe

By JILL VON SPRECKEN
Aug. 2018

Inside Laurence & Chico Café (Photo by Leila Kwok)

If you’ve ever wanted to peek inside the mind of a fashion designer, head to Laurence & Chico Café. The Vancouver- and New York–based duo is known for weird and wonderful couture collections, and their cafe offers a glimpse into their world. Stepping inside is like falling down the rabbit hole—think plush chairs adorned with tentacle armrests, fringe-embellished stools and a bathroom bursting with 2,000 rubber ducks. On the menu, find local coffees, house-made pastries, fresh-pressed juices and an afternoon tea that would earn the Mad Hatter’s approval. Welcome to Wonderland.