Vancouver’s Brewery District and beyond

A year and a half ago, we moved into Olympic Village Great beer and we weren’t that into beer back then. I remember that because the wedding was shortly after and we didn’t bat an eyelash about serving at the reception Heineken that we procured in a couple of cross-border runs. These days, we might still serve something from a large brewery but I would balk inside.

It really came into our purview the burgeoning brewery industry in Vancouver in 2014 and we happened to have moved into Olympic Village in fall 2013, the westerly edge of it all. Some breweries have been around for years upon years (Granville Island, Parallel 49) and more are popping up seemingly every month. In 2014, I visited breweries during a trip back to Halifax and brought NPY some East Coast brews and we have added brewery tasting rooms to our trip planning last year and this year in Kelowna, Seattle, Maui and LA/Palm Springs. I finally planned a birthday ‘do for NPY, last fall, wherein we went brewery hopping and hit up three breweries before having more beer with dinner!

For my part, I’m staunchly either a fruity beer or dark beer drinker. And by drinker, I take small sips and should only be served a sample glass at a time. I’m slightly terrified of drinking my calories so I’m usually just there for support, and to admire this fun and laidback trend sweeping the city.

A stone’s throw away

People are flocking to Vancouver’s Olympic Village because it’s a great space to visit and live with dense but down-to-earth living and the great establishments to get beer. Legacy Liquor Store is the Village’s neighbourhood very well-stocked liquor store well-known for its beer selection but it also has a great tasting room for their spirits and wines. The first big restaurant on the scene was Tap & Barrel right on the water and with two levels of massive patios that provide the million-dollar northwest views of the city. Craft Beer Market expanded on their Alberta locations and took over the heritage Salt Building as a major competitor. Craft doesn’t have the patios with the views but it has over 100 brews on tap.

What about microbreweries? Well the neighbourhood is getting some, in a big way. Late last year, Steel Toad Brewpub was the first microbrewery to open a stone’s throw from the Village. It is a big space with a dining hall seating over 150 guests and an emphasis on good food alongside their beers. With their 19-foot screen, it has sell-out evenings for recent major sporting events. Big Rock Urban Brewery from Alberta is located on Alberta Street and will open on April 10. With their BRU Eatery, they will up the stakes for dining in the area.

Ten minute walk away

Just a 10-minute walk away, there are several small microbreweries where the seating is capped at about 30 and you might have to stand outside in line and grab a bite first from the rotating line-up of food trucks at the location that day. These breweries include 33 Acres Brewing Company and Brassneck Brewery that I’ve been to, and R&B Brewing Company and Main Street Brewing Company that I haven’t been to yet. 33 Acres is our favourite of the area with a clean, hip(ster) tasting room, a hopping food truck pumping you up when you’re in line and delicious collaborations with Matchstick Coffee Roasters and Earnest Ice Cream. And they bring in and serve Cartems donuts. Soon, some time in SpringĀ 2015, Red Truck Beer Company will be completed and have a 100-seat Truck Stop Diner. Count me as excited.

Twenty minute bike ride away

So you can’t drive after you drink but it does present an interesting challenge if you arrive and leave by bicycle… I haven’t done it but some others have and I’d like to think that it has an immediate sobering effect to have to steer yourself safely home after drinking, like the way NPY sobers up or gets much more alert even though he has been drinking when I take over as DD. :D

In Olympic Village, we are not East Van. For goodness sakes, most of the addresses are “West” ones…! The brewery density is highest in East Vancouver and we are kind of relieved not to be living right in the midst of it all! The biggest ones out there and we visited on NPY’s birthday are Parallel 49 Brewing and Bomber Brewing. I can and will write a whole other blog post about Parallel 49. Postmark Brewing is the East Van brewery with a dining establishment, Belgard Kitchen, that sounds worthy of a visit. Meanwhile, NPY and his beer bestie check out the smaller establishments in mid-week outings including Strange Fellows Brewing, Off the Rail Brewing Company, Powell Street Craft Brewery, and the frightfully small Storm Brewing.

I almost forgot – and how could I? – about Granville Island Brewing, possibly the oldest of them all but located squarely in the westside and so busy in touristy Granville Island that we haven’t visited yet.

Destination Brewery

Now, when we travel, in addition to seeking out the local office of my firm, now I have to (happily) seek out the brewery(ies) to visit. I am finally giving back to NPY (hahahaha) but he knows that sometimes I can get more eager than he does. As such, our quest has boozed up our trips to Toronto (Mill Street Brewpub), Halifax (Garrison Brewing Company, Propeller Brewery), Kelowna (Tree Brewing Company), Penticton (Cannery Brewing Company, Tin Whistle Brewing Company [Yelp]), Seattle (Elysian Brewery), Maui (Maui Brewing Company), Palm Springs (Coachella Valley Brewing Company) and LA (El Segundo Brewing)!

There are plenty more we want to visit in other cities and around the PNW and I’ve certainly left off local breweries I have not yet discovered we want to visit. The above map is certainly a work in progress!

On this day..