Here’s how my first hours of every trip to Vancouver go down. Drop my bags at the hotel. Go to my favourite taco place (La Taqueria Pinche… best tacos I’ve had outside of Mexico or San Diego). Make a beeline to one of the ever growing list of solid craft brewery taprooms. Enjoy that one, then head to the next taproom that is always less than three blocks away. Vancouver visits always get off on the right foot. In fact, this is a pattern that can repeat every day of a Vancouver trip. On my most recent trip to one of my favourite cities in the world, I designed a respectable four day craft beer crawl.
With a belly full of tacos I hopped a bus to East Van a couple hours after touching down in Vancouver and settled into the beautiful taproom at Andina Brewing Company. This is a really unique place with most of the beers made with obvious influences from South America. After being stuck in the depths of winter in Saskatoon, sitting in the sun coming through a window felt downright summery, even in February.
These beers were all thirst quenching, with the Lulo Sour my favourite. I also loved that cassava chips came with the tasting flight. Solid start to my Vancouver tastings in a beautiful setting.
After Andina, I made a stop at Off The Rail Brewing. I’ve tried a few of their beers on past trips, and with this tasting flight, selected four beers that were new to me (pilsner, pale, red, IPA from left to right). OTR is a solid brewery – these were all good with the English IPA to finish the flight the tastiest.
Day two saw me take the same bus from downtown back to East Van for some more beer exploring. My first stop was the East Van Brewing Company. Of my tastings over a few days, these beers trailed the other breweries I visited. It’s not a place I’d return to, even though its taproom might have been my favourite in terms of decor and music selection.
About a ten minute walk away, my stop at Strange Fellows Brewing came during a torrential downpour. Even though I was soaked, my spirits improved with these four beers. The first one in particular, the Jongleur Wit, was one of the best wit beers I’ve ever had. Spice, coriander and orange were in perfect balance in this beer. The other beers were great too. They were spot on to their style and showed outstanding craftsmanship.
Not only were the beers outstanding, but the taproom was a beauty. It was a great spot to hang out for an hour or so until I was brave enough to venture back out into the rain. Great beers, great space. Strange Fellows will now me a must visit for all my future visits.
At the end of my day three hike around the seawall, I stopped in to have a tasting flight at Tap & Barrel and chose a wide selection of styles – a saison from Riot Brewing, a pale by Parkside Brewing and a pale by Howe Sound Brewing, an Irish dry stout by Crannóg Ales (not normally a go to style for me, but this was hands down my favourite of a strong flight) and a double IPA by Steel & Oak (which was also outstanding).
My last day in Vancouver, I dedicated my afternoon to visiting three breweries. The first was a return visit to R&B Brewing. It is a place I hit my last time in Vancouver and I loved the vibe and pizza so much that I made this my lunch stop. As I write this a few months later, I can now pick up a couple of these in cans in Saskatoon which makes me very happy. All the beers here are solid, and the feel of the tasting room makes this a favourite Vancouver stop of mine now.
Next up and only a couple of blocks away was a relatively new, and small brewery, Faculty Brewing Co. Second from the left, a hefeweizen, was my favourite. It had some unique notes for a hefe – it tasted boozier and had a depth you wouldn’t expect from this style.
I left an all-time Vancouver favourite for my last stop. Near the top of Main Street, Brassneck Brewery, for my money, is one of the city’s best breweries. Everything I’ve ever tasted here has been both true to style and of exceptional craftsmanship.
The two final beers (to the right) of this tasting flight were remarkably good – the “Passive Aggressive” IPA and the “Fundoshi” sour ale were among my favoutites from all of my tastings on this winter visit. Not a surprise at all. I’ll be back to Brassneck every time I make it to Vancouver.