Vancouver was not only recently ranked the third most liveable city in the world by the Economist, it is also a craft beer lover’s paradise. Vancouver’s craft brew scene has exploded in the past few years. In an area that used to be littered with used needles, frequented by prostitutes and unsafe to walk through alone, the stretch east to west between Main Street and Cambie Street and north to south between Broadway and East 2nd Avenue is now a beer connoisseur’s eldorado.
We bravely put our feet to the pavement to make a list of breweries for you – a terrible task, right? They are all within walking distance of each other and all have tasting rooms to sample their products. These tasting rooms are a great place to gather, hoist a couple of frosty ones, and people watch. Here are our favourites.
A quick note: The IBU after each beer stands for the ‘International Bitterness Unit’ scale. It measures the bitterness from hops in a beer on a scale of 0 to 100, the higher the number, the more bitter the beer. ABV stands for ‘Alcohol by Volume’; the higher the percentage, the more alcohol is in the beer, so be careful!
1) 33 Acres Brewing Company
Located at 15 West 8th Avenue, 33 Acres Brewing Company was established in 2013; their tasting room holds 60 people. They serve snacks all the time and a brunch on the weekend. It’s a noisy, usually crowded, industrial-looking room. This place usually has at least nine beers on tap from which to choose your sampler of four.
33 Acres of Sunshine (IBU 14 ABV 5%), a French Blanche that tasted like a hefeweizen with a banana aftertaste.
33 Acres of Life (IBU 40 ABV 4.8%), hoppy tasting with a bready finish.
33 Acres of Darkness (IBU 30 ABV 5%), smooth, slightly sweet with coffee notes.
33 Acres of Euphoria (IBU 18 ABV 9.2%), a Belgian Tripel, sweet, a bit bready and strong.
2) Main Street Brewing Company
An eight minute walk from 33 Acres, just east of Main Street at 261 East 7th Avenue is the Main Street Brewing Company which opened in 2014. High ceilings and a couple of indoor trees make for a quieter experience than 33 Acres. They serve snacks and sandwiches.
Kellerbier (IBU 22 ABV 5%), a weak sauce pilsner. A good starter beer for newbie craft beer drinkers.
Redback (IBU 60 ABV 7%), hoppy, a little sweet, clean-tasting, and a little fruity.
Stag & Pheasant (IBU 65 ABV 9.3%), sweet, creamy, dark and thick-tasting. What I would call a dessert beer.
Naked Fox IPA (IBU 55 ABV 6.8%), grapefruit notes, hoppy, refreshing and bitter in a good way.
3) Brassneck Brewery
Four minutes from Main Street Brewing at 2148 Main Street is Brassneck Brewing which opened in 2013. Their rustic tasting room serves snacks and can hold 50 people, as long as they like sitting very closer to others. Front of the house has a counter for growler fills.
Our samples (they did not include IBU information):
Sticks and Stones Rye Saison (ABV 6%), a slightly sour beer with medium body.
Passive Aggressive Dry Hopped Pale Ale (ABV 6.5%), a slightly hoppy, aromatic pale ale.
Mr. Personality Amber Ale (ABV 5%) is a session ale (one you can drink all day), very smooth.
Fantasmagoria Horchata Milk Stout (ABV 7%), another dessert beer. Dark chocolate, cinnamon with vanilla notes. Thick and delicious.
4) R&B Brewing Company
A five minute jaunt from Brassneck is the R&B Brewing Company located at 54 East 4th Avenue. It’s the oldest brewery on the crawl, opening in 1997. This eclectically decorated restaurant/brewery is owned by Howe Sound Brewing based in Squamish, BC. R&B also has hand-crafted pizzas and light meals.
Cuckoo for Cocoa Raven Cream Ale (IBU approx 20 ABV 5%), light bodied and flavoured with cocoa nibs. Tasty.
Four Winds Saison (IBU 30 ABV 6.5%), a full-bodied, balanced, bubbly beer.
Nitro Dark Star Stout (IBU 18 ABV 4.6%); if pressed I would say this tasted exactly like Guinness.
East Side Bitter (IBU 42 ABV 5.5%), aromatic, fruity tasting with a medium body.
5) Faculty Brewing
Just four minutes from R&B is Faculty Brewing at 1830 Ontario Street. It’s one of the younger breweries on the list opening in 2016. Their cozy, industrial tasting room has four taps to choose from. They have a small selection of snacks.
Blonde (IBU 29 ABV 6%), a pale, balanced beer with a nice finish.
Smash (IBU 45 ABV 5.1%), a crisp clean-tasting beer that’s a little hoppy.
White IPA (IBU 64 ABV 6.2%), a little sour, a little bitter, not a favourite with me.
Wet Hop Stout (IBU 35 ABV 5.5%), smooth, dark and tasty.
6) Big Rock Urban Brewery
A nine minute walk from Faculty is Big Rock Urban Brewery at 310 West 4th Avenue which opened their Vancouver location in 2015. The tiny tasting room seats only 12 people, but there is a lot more space in the eatery. To accompany the beer we ordered their Bru Charcuterie and the Bru Cobb Salad, both of which were very good.
Peach Cider (ABV 5.5%), very peachy and quite sweet. For those with a sweet tooth.
Helle’s Lager (IBU 25 ABV 5%), sharp tasting and seemed hoppy for a low IBU beer.
Dry Irish Stout (IBU 18 ABV 4%), smooth and creamy, but the finish was weak.
Hollow Tree Red Ale (IBU 55 ABV 5.5%), quite hoppy in a good way; meaning not too bitter. It was quite flavourful.
Vancouver is an exciting place to be right now if craft beer is up your alley. To have so many options just outside of downtown and so easily accessible via public transit – well, there’s no excuse not to check them out. This list could easily have included several more breweries within walking distance, but these six breweries are a good start for a fun day out exploring Vancouver.
This is a guest post by Theresa Ladner.
Theresa is a mostly stay-at-home mom who drags her husband off travelling as much as possible. When she’s not travelling or momming, she likes to write, experiment with cookery, and speak about herself in the third person. Find her at The Jollee Traveller.