12 Reasons Vancouver Is Beer Heaven

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by Kate Siobhan Mulligan Jul 10, 2015

Vancouver is hailed and lauded as one of the most “livable cities on Earth” but if you ask a local, you’ll get mixed responses. Yes, we know it’s beautiful, but we can’t agree on if it’s worth the cost (which is astronomical), if there’s too much rain, the public transit situation, among many other things city struggles with. You know what one thing we can all agree on? (Hint, drinking it seems to help everyone get along.) Beer! Everyone knows that the craft-beer scene in Vancouver is seriously about as good as it gets.

1. Cheerful crowds

Pretty much at the end of any given workday, and pretty much all weekend, all the breweries in the city look like this. Full of people, doing life over pints. The way has been for a thousand years. Except in here there’s a lot more beer options, cleanliness has seriously come a long way, and you really can’t barter anymore. This particular crowd has gathered at Steel Toad Brewery for a Cask Fest. Because around Vancouver, “Did you hear they’re tapping a fresh cask tonight?” is pretty much a new pick up line.

2. Acres of breweries

W33kend bottles. We now have 4 packs of our 9.2% Belgian Trippel. #33acres #b33r

A photo posted by 33 Acres Brewing Company (@33acresbrewing) on

For those in the city proper, 33 Acres is a hot pick with it’s clean bright whites and open spaces and touches of green and wood make it a popular haunt along the Main Street corridor. Oh, and the beer tastes like sunshine. So there’s that. And 33 Acres is just one of 7 breweries in and around South Main, just blocks from Brassneck, Main Street Brewing, Steel Toad, Craft Beer Market (which isn’t a brewery but serves hundreds of beers), Big Rock, R+B, and the newly opened (though long established) Red Truck which is a tasting room and a “truck stop” style diner. Further north and a bit more east is Hastings-Sunrise and you can find Off the Rail, Strange Fellows, Parallel 49, Powell Street Brewing, and the newest addition, Doan’s Craft Brewing.

3. No really, there’s a proverbial shit ton of breweries

You could do a self appointed beer crawl in nearly any part of the city core at this point. While the actual breweries are mostly (but not exclusively) in East Vancouver (as listed above, though not exhausted), there’s a handful downtown or close enough such as the delectable and beautiful Postmark Brewing in Railtown, or Yaletown Brewing owned by the Mark James Group. Of course Vancouver is a bit city, and there are some really great breweries in most other municipalities like North Van (Bridge Brewing, Deep Cove Brewers, Green Leaf Brewing), Port Moody (Moody Ales, Yellow Dog Brewing), Burnaby (Dageraad Brewing) New Westminster (Steel and Oak) and onward. If you don’t know how to handle all these breweries, give Vancouver Brewery Tours a call and join a tour with a beer guide, or try Wildside which offers a brewery shuttle service on saturdays (“hop on hop off” style). If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is.

4. Eclectic and fun serving displays

While the traditional beer paddle is still found at many and most breweries, some of the newcomers have found interesting and noteworthy ways of getting you your beer. This is from Steel Toad Brewery and is a tasteful break from the wooden paddle. It is just decoration really, but when you are paying $8 or $10 for a paddle, it is nice that it gets a little dolled up for you. It’s also great instagram material, which is probably your average beer nut’s second favourite activity.

5. Beer with a view

Since most Breweries have popped up in East Vancouver, the views are generally of the street. But better than that, many breweries, like Powell Street in this image, let you peer into their actual facilities while you sip away. Again, it’s an interesting touch, and a great conversation maker — especially as more and more first dates, group gatherings, reunions, or meet ups are happening at these bars all over the city. If you do want a view, you’ll like need to try a brewpub (such as Steamworks in Gastown, which does make their own beer), or you’ll need to do a chain restaurant that’s in a great location, such as Cactus Club in English Bay (which does have several beers brewed just for them, but don’t carry much in the way of anyone else). One particularily good view is from Prospect Point, which is serving up Stanley Park Brewing with views of, well, Stanley Park and the Lions Gate Bridge.

6. More beers than you can shake a growler at

Between the breweries themselves, the brewpubs and gastropubs and just regular pubs, almost every drinking establishment in the city has made the nod at the craft beer scene. Gone are the Molsons and Kokanees (with the Happy Hour exception of PBR which is really considered a nostalgic throwback or a “grandpa beer”) and in are the Triple IPAs and Double Smoked Porters and Barrel Aged Scotch Ales and fruit infused Heffies, Lagers, and Wheat Ales. While you can find crafty pints almost anywhere, there are some notable joints aimed soley at providing a huge amount of taps not only from Vancouver but Seattle and Portland too — so if you’d rather have the beer come to you than bike or walk or crawl between breweries, then these taphouses are for you. There’s Craft Beer Market which has the most taps and lots of seating, The Morrissey which has a concise but quality list with a very downtown atmosphere, the Portside Pub which feels like being in the belly of a beautiful ship, or my personal favourite, the Alibi Room, where it’s brick on wood next to the railway tracks and the menu is 2 large pages in very small font, and ever changing, and not for the faint of beer heart (tip: Alibi Room is a short jaunt from Postmark Brewing!). Note that Breweries tend to be cheaper because they’re offering you their product; taphouses and gastropubs, etc, will charge normal prices but offer a variety.

7. Rapid infusion of the day

At one of the more well-known craft breweries, Parallel 49, they keep thing extra fresh by rapidly infusing one of their beers with a variety of flavours each day, just for that day. In this case, it’s the Ugly Sweater Milk Stout infused with oak, coconut, and vanilla. Every day a new adventure! Just a short walk from P49 is the newly opened Doan’s Brewing, and the established nano-brewery, Powell Street Brewing.

8. Beer pyramids!

Petition to be able to start serving Beeramids instead of flights. Photo credit: @kalum.utley)

A photo posted by Off The Rail Brewing Co. (@offtherailbeer) on

You can high tail it to Off the Rail, which is off of Clark Street and across from the also excellent Bomber Brewing, if you want a perfect blend of pacific west coast woodsiness with just a bit of that east van grit. Founded by the former owner of Railway Club! You know it’s gonna be good for that reason alone.

9. Strap it to your bike

#growler #growlerholder #beer #beerholder #bikegrowlerholder #bikefashion #hipster #leather #leatherandwood #bikeanddrink

A photo posted by R1creations (@r1creations_vancouver_bc) on

Biking home with a growler is like biking while balancing a bowling ball. A bowling ball that you cannot wait to drink. This solution is tastefully brought to you by R1 Creations. The fact that they exist means there is enough of a demand for craft beer that people now need beer accessories. And we need them to look good.

10. Sling it over your shoulder

Case and point about the demand for accessories. Don’t have a bike? Greff Growler has you covered. This is Vancouver so obviously it’s handmade and classy and gorgeous and ethical. All just to get your beer home safe and look good doing it — that’s how ingrained beer culture is becoming in this fair city. And it’s a very good thing.

11. Engrave it

Custom engraved growlers brought to you by Sigil & Growler, engraved right here in Van City.

12. Finally, because beautiful girls say so

Drink local craft beer. Yes Ma’am! Not only is locally brewed craft beer the most delicious, it is causing an explosion of local businesses and that’s good for literally everyone. Not just brewers and breweries — there’s the folks making growlers, the folks making awesome things to hold your growlers, the folks making handy and delicious snacks for your beer enhancement, the food trucks that park out front and await your growling stomach, even the folks growing the grains and hops. Vancouver has fully embraced craft beer and it looks really, really good on us. (And I’m pretty sure in the time it took to write this article, no less than three new breweries opened up).

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