beer column

my notes from yesterday's beer column on cbc radio's on the coast with gloria macarenko:

The days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer – the conditions are perfect for a “brewery stroll”. 

I use the term “stroll” rather than “crawl” to get away from the concept of a drunken, and usually messy, contest to drink the most beer at the most places in the least amount of time.  And also to differentiate it from a brewery tour.  A brewery stroll could definitely include a brewery tour or two - the stroll is about taking your time and exploring a neighbourhood or area of town via its tasting rooms and craft beer pubs.

There is at least one running group in Vancouver that runs to breweries, pubs and restaurants (East Van Run Crew).  It’s a very efficient use of time to fit in a work out during social drinking – not to mention a way to net out your calories at zero!

If you’re going to be filling growlers, though, you might prefer to cycle between breweries, so you’re not sloshing that beer around too badly.  With so many bike routes in Vancouver, it is a great way to get from brewery to brewery.  Just make sure you’re watching your consumption to stay under the legal limit.  This is where session beers come in very handy!

If you prefer to let someone else do the planning, you could go on a guided cycle tour of three Vancouver breweries with Cycle Vancouver.  They’ll also provide you a bicycle if you don’t have one of your own.  The tours run daily with stops at Main Street Brewery, Postmark and Bomber Brewing.

There is a new shuttle in town, linking several areas: North Vancouver, East Van and Main Street.  Wildside Vancouver offers one way rides for $5, or all day rides for $10.  The shuttle runs every Saturday in 90 minute intervals with more frequent loops as the evening progresses. One can “hop on” the shuttle at any stop. “Cheaper than a cab, more convenient than transit and more fun than both!”

Currently the stops are at 12 Kings Pub and Main Street Brewing in Mount Pleasant: Bomber Brewing and Parallel 49 in East Van; Bridge and Deep Cove in North Vancouver.  All stops are also very close to several other breweries and pubs so you can shuttle the longer distances and then walk to all the nearby beer.

Brewery Tours:
For a less physically active afternoon of brewery visits, there’s the always entertaining and informative VancouverBrewery Tours, who will chauffeur you around to three breweries, where you get a tour and samples. (  You can sign up for a public tour, or get them to help you plan a private tour.

How to plan your brewery stroll:
Having some prior knowledge of an area and its breweries is an asset, but it isn’t required.  Any brewery you stop in at will happily tell you about all the others in the area.  The market may be hopping (!), but the breweries all support each other rather than compete against each other.  So it’s easy to be spontaneous about your brewery stroll.

If you prefer to plot your own course ahead of time, there are a couple of handy online guides.  BC Mag’s newly published Ultimate Vancouver Craft Beer Brewery List names all the breweries in the Metro area; the Hoppy Ending blog has a map of all the Vancouver breweries; and the Beer Me BC website has a map of all BC breweries.

Whatever you want to call it, East Van, Yeast Van, Cedar Cove or East Village, the area suddenly has a whole lot of breweries in a small area.  Which makes it perfect for a brewery stroll.  To make it even easier for you get around, a group has put together a map of five breweries and a distillery, plus some food options along the way, called the East Village Brewery & Distillery Self Guided Tour.  You can pick up the map at Bomber Brewing, Storm Brewing, Parallel 49, Powell Street, Coal Harbour and Odd Society distillery.

In addition to the five breweries listed on the map, Off The Rail and Strangefellows are also in the neighbourhood.  And Doans and Callister are both expected to open in the next couple of months.  That will make it hard to actually fit in that many stops in a single day!  It's a great time to be a beer geek!

Beer Picks:

Strangefellows Twit Wit 1 and 2 – one batch of beer split into two and fermented on two different yeasts.  Compare and contrast the subtle differences.  And at 4.5% they’re perfect for brewery strolling.  Available on tap at the tasting room.

Bridge Brewing Wunderbar Kolsch – 5% - a North Van take on a German kolsch.  Light and refreshing.  Available on tap at the tasting room and bottles at liquor stores.

Four Winds La Maison – 4.5% brett fermented Grissette (light saison) brewed with spelt and rye.  Available on tap at the brewery and at craft beer bars around town.


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