British Columbia’s beer industry is continually growing — such is true, of course, in terms of the entire Canadian craft brew industry. Most breweries are open for tours and tasting, and numerous local liquor stores have dedicated sections for these unique beers (in mainland Vancouver, we suggest Brewery Creek Liquor Store, Firefly Fine Wine and Ales and Viti Wine and Lagers). Perhaps the best place to start a Van city overview of the local beer culture is by taking one of The Vancouver Food Tour’s three-hour, four-brewery “Gastown Craft Beer ’n Bites Tours”. In the meantime, here’s a round-up of some of the deservedly better-known brands around town.
Brewed in Sorrento in the B.C. Interior’s Shuswap area, this microbrewery is one of the province’s only certified organic breweries, brewing unfiltered, unpasteurized ale with ingredients often sourced from the owner family’s farm. Crannóg is known for full-flavoured ales, available only in B.C. If you are lucky enough to get some of this season’s Old Puddin’ Head Winter Ale, you’ll experience this slightly sweet and spicy finish of coriander, bitter orange and mace. At 8.5% alcohol, it’s a hefty brew with a big malty body.
Granville Island Brewing [pictured]
Now one of the country’s larger “microbreweries,” Granville Island was B.C.’s first, and remains one of its most prevalent. The brewery’s llatest release is a the Hopped-up IPA, a big bold brew that uses four different varieties of Pacific Northwest hops and flavours of citrus, pin and marmalade. Note that tours and tastings are suspended until April, as the site is currently closed for renovations.
R & B Brewing
Based in East Vancouver’s historic Brewery Creek district, R & B Brewing was founded in 1997 by friends Rick Dellow and Berry Benson — yes, well done, you’ve broken the code — and offers full-bodied beer made from only the choicest malts, hops and yeast. Their most recent release is the Spirit Chaser Coffee Porter, a rich porter infused with Indonesia coffee from Salt Spring Island Coffee Company. Flavours of chocolate and roast coffee prevail in this heady ale.
Head over to Vancouver Island to visit one of BC’s favourite artisanal breweries. After brewing at a number of other craft breweries, Phillips Beer owner Matt Phillips broke out on his own in 2001. One of the brewery’s most popular offerings is the Dr. Funk, a Dunkel-style lager. Full of roasted malt, chocolate and coffee flavours, the lager finishes with a touch of sweetness. Bonus: The Phillips web site is full of beer recipes, and recommends using the Dr. Funk in a Funky Fondue.
Cannery Brewing Company
Auspicious, perhaps, that Cannery brewed its first batch of beer on April Fool’s Day in 2001; still, the company’s product is anything but a joking matter. At first selling beer only in kegs, for local restaurants, pubs and clubs, the brewery now bottles its offerings and ships them around B.C. from their Penticton home-base. Recent offering: Squire Scotch Ale, a pale ale with strong malty flavours, smokiness, and just a touch of sweetness.
Image courtesy of Dana Deskiewicz.