Summer is beer season. As the weather warms up and the days grow longer, we all want to spend more time outside, enjoying activities or relaxing at a back-yard barbecue with friends. The city’s sun-drenched patios will be packed to bursting for the next few months with Vancouverites looking to quench their thirst with refreshing craft beer.
The proliferation of new breweries in and around Vancouver gives beer lovers plenty of places to try out this summer. One could easily plan a week’s worth of afternoons visiting breweries—beer-cation, anyone? Options include 33 Acres Brewing Co., Brassneck Brewery, and Main Street Brewing Company in the Brewery Creek area (Main Street north of Broadway), where Steel Toad Brewpub and Red Truck Beer Company will also open later this summer.
Then there’s the Powell Street/Victoria Drive neighbourhood with Parallel 49 Brewing Company, Powell Street Craft Brewery, and Coal Harbour Brewing Company. Bomber Brewing, which recently opened on the Adanac Street bike route just off Clark Drive, will be joined by two more breweries later this summer: Strange Fellows Brewing and Off the Rail Brewing.
Meanwhile, Postmark Brewing has just opened in Railtown, and the city’s first all-organic brewery, Dogwood Brewing, will open in South Vancouver next to the Knight Street Bridge soon. In North Vancouver, Green Leaf Brewing Co. is conveniently located right at the entrance to Lonsdale Quay. It opened last December and is producing some really interesting and esoteric styles.
How about a day trip to Gibsons to visit Persephone Brewing Company? Or a Millennium Line SkyTrain loop with stops at Dageraad Brewing, B.C.’s first exclusively Belgian-style operation, which has just opened in Burnaby near Production Way/University Station, and Steel & Oak Brewing Co., which opened June 24 within walking distance of New Westminster Station. Port Moody will see two new breweries, Yellow Dog Brewing Co. and Moody Ales, opening soon. And down in Delta, on the far side of the Massey Tunnel on the way to the ferry, is B.C.’s hottest new brewery, Four Winds Brewing, which celebrated its first birthday a few weeks ago.
Perhaps the best way to start your summer beer adventure is with a planning session at home with friends—over a few beers, of course. Here are some recommendations to look for at your friendly neighbourhood bottle shop. Cheers!
Parallel 49 Tricycle Grapefruit Radler/Tree Brewing Co. Grapefruit Radler
(3.5/2.5 percent alcohol by volume. Year-round; available in 355/500-millilitre cans)
Radlers have been popular summer beverages in Germany for a century. A mix of lager and carbonated fruit juice, they’re seen as a great low-alcohol, thirst-quenching option for drinking while enjoying outdoor activities—indeed, Radler means “cyclist” in German. Ever-cheeky Parallel 49 Brewing Company calls its version Tricycle. Once you get over its startling pink colour, you’ll be struck by how tasty and refreshing it is. Tree’s Grapefruit Radler isn’t quite as pink; it’s more fizzy and slightly sweeter, but equally refreshing.
Cannery Brewing Skaha Summer Ale
(5 percent ABV, 20 international bittering units [IBU])
Limited release; available on tap and in 650-millilitre bottles) Summer in a bottle. The label, which depicts people leaping into Skaha Lake in Penticton, which is the home of Cannery Brewing Company, says it all. The beer itself is light-bodied but not lacking in flavour and just hoppy enough to get your attention.
Four Winds Brewing Phaedra Belgian Rye IPA
(7.2 percent ABV, 65 IBU. Limited release; available on tap and in 650-millilitre bottles)
I first tasted Phaedra at the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale back in April, where it won best of show, and I’ve been waiting for it to come out in bottles ever since. It’s a complex beer made with a variety of malts (barley, rye, and wheat), a spicy Belgian yeast, and succulent, citrus-y hops. At 7.2 percent ABV, Phaedra is a bit too potent to be called a summer beer, but it’s amazing, so get it before it disappears.
Old Yale Brewing Co. Sasquatch Stout
(5 percent ABV, 35 IBU. Year-round; available on tap and in 650-millilitre bottles)
Normally, a stout wouldn’t make a list of summer beer picks, but Sasquatch recently won beer of the year at the 12th annual Canadian Brewing Awards. This rich, black stout made with roasted barley, chocolate malts, and oats is definitely worth a sip, perhaps later in the evening as the air begins to cool.
Dageraad Brewing Amber/Blonde
(6/7.5 percent ABV, 30/20 IBU. Year-round; available on tap and in 650-millilitre bottles)
Dageraad takes its name from the Flemish word for daybreak and its inspiration from a long tradition of Belgian brewing. Its signature beers are simply named: Amber, a Belgian pale ale with a dry, crisp finish, and Blonde, a strong Belgian golden ale brewed with a secret blend of spices and refermented in the bottle.
Hoyne Brewing Co. Summer Haze honey Hefe
(5.1 percent ABV. Limited release; available on tap and in 650-millilitre bottles)
Victoria’s Hoyne Brewing brews this beer with honey produced by bees at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. The honey adds a fresh floral character to this hazy, light-bodied wheat beer.