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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.