If you plan on travelling to the Pacific Northwest anytime soon, and you should, there’s a city just a little further north that is worth checking out. Perhaps you’ve heard of Vancouver before, but what you may not have heard is all that it offers. Aside from containing hoards of friendly Canadians, Vancouver is a fantastic food and beverage destination much like its American contemporaries, Seattle and Portland. If you’re there for a night or couple days, Vancouver’s burgeoning craft beer scene is worth checking out. I thought that a quick guide to a few of our favourites would be a great way to introduce people to the scene, and send you straight to the local favorites..
Vancouver is home to a booming beer scene. Not only are the people of Vancouver embracing craft beer but the brewers who produce craft beer have been extremely creative, building a community of people inspired by one thing: beer. If you have the opportunity to visit Vancouver, I encourage you to check out these 5 community orientated breweries. You won’t be disappointed in the beer you’ll taste or people you’ll meet.
#1 33 Acres Brewery
Why I Love It: 33 Acres is one of the friendliest breweries in town with an extremely social tasting room. Featuring large communal tables, you’ll be sparking up conversation with a fellow beer lover in no time. Offering 5 or 6 different brews, they have something for everyone and the food truck parked out front changes daily. Join them on the weekend for brunch which is insanely good despite being limited in options.
My favorite beer: If you manage to stop in, give the 33 Acres of Ocean a try. It’s a west-coast pale and a real hit around the city. It’s a little bit hop forward but not overly bitter. It’s session-able enough at around 5-6% and was a real favorite of mine.
#2 Main Street Brewery
Why I love it: Main Street Brewery, much like 33 Acres, is in what is referred to by some locals as ‘beer town’. Main Street Brewery is perhaps on the edge of this ‘beer town’ and features a fairly small but extremely cozy tasting room. With a long bar at the front and communal tables scattered throughout, you’ll be met by a friendly bartender when you’re ready to order. Main Street is also known for its friendliness and is in the heart of the Mt. Pleasant community.
My favorite beer: They have a couple of rotating lines and then about 5 lines that remain fairly permanent. Perhaps most well known for the Westminster Brown Ale, it’s easy to know why as it’s malty and smooth flavor will have you coming back for more. You can also find this beer on tap at a few neighboring breweries including Craft Beer Market which is only a few blocks away, and offers 140 beers on tap.
#3 Four Winds Brewery
Why I love it: Four Winds is one of those breweries who relies on its community for inspiration into its brews. Not that the other breweries on this list don’t use local ingredients, Four Winds goes above and beyond sourcing nearly everything that goes into its beer from the local area. With a great tasting room, it’s no doubt why people go off the standard beer trail to visit Four Winds Brewery.
My favorite beer: For Four Winds, this is almost too difficult a choice. But perhaps my overall favorite was the Nectarous. A slightly sour beer, featuring heavy notes of nectarine, it’s gone from a seasonal to a mainstay throughout the city. Four Winds got so much flack when they announced that is was a seasonal they had to purchase additional kegerators just to keep it online.
#4 Red Truck Brewery
Why I love it: Red Truck is one of those breweries big enough that it doesn’t necessarily need to engage with its local community. But with a giant new brewery in the self-proclaimed ‘beer town,’ Red Truck has instead decided to completely ramp things up by offering all type of different events, including the outdoor concert series which they host in the parking lot of their brewery, with plenty of kegs mind you, and is often times free! I was lucky enough to attend one of these parties and it felt more like being at a backyard BBQ as everyone had come together to celebrate great beer and great live music
My Favorite beer: I am a bit of a beer snob when it comes to IPA’s but I didn’t need to be snobby at all when I tasted the Red Truck IPA. Extremely well balanced, with a delicious hoppy flavor upfront, it had a smooth finish which allowed me to keep coming back to it throughout the night. A close second was the Red Truck Golden Ale which is a hoppy summer seasonal which is sure to impress as well.
#5 Big Rock Brewery
Why I love it: Another brewery, much like Red Truck, that embraces the surrounding community is Big Rock Brewery. The main brewery for Big Rock is a province over in Alberta but the Vancouver location has done some really cool things offering more of a brewpub setting as opposed to a tasting room. With live music weekly, the vibe on weekends is really fun and will likely have you dancing by the end of the night.
My favorite beer: By far the Big Rock Citradelic IPA. The name says it all as it features a citrus taste that can’t be beat (except by maybe Deschutes’ Fresh Squeezed). Apparently there was a lot of worry that the Alberta based Big Rock Brewery was just going to be a figure piece, but they’ve done a nice job creating some locally inspired brews using local ingredients.
For those looking for a great time tasting new beers and meeting some pretty great people, I definitely recommend Vancouver, British Columbia. Home to a big CAMRA population as well, you’ll see quickly why the beer community of Canada is one of the friendliest in the world.