By JASON TWETEN
In a city of self-proclaimed connoisseurs, Vancouver’s microbreweries have the difficult job of staying ahead of the trends. A great deal of knowledge and skill goes into pioneering craft beers, and for small-scale brewers this means taking large-scale risks. Lucky for patrons of the craft, this city lays claim to some of the most innovative and intelligent brewers in the business. We’ve compiled this list of our favourite microbreweries to help visitors try to keep up.
R&B Brewing Co.
If you’re searching for groundbreaking flavour in beers, look no further than R&B. This award-winning brewer is known for turning unusual concepts into tasty beers. In the fall of 2013, R&B received recognition by the BC Beer Awards for their refreshing Birra Fresca Cucumber Mint IPA. They also teamed up with other microbrewers in Vancouver’s Brewery Creek District (some of which are on this list) to create a small batch of Spruce Tip Stout, made with real spruce tips to achieve a delicious and distinctive taste. In addition to their creative-specialities, R&B distributes their recognizable ale and stout varieties to restaurants and liquor stores throughout Greater Vancouver. Keep an eye out for the Raven Cream Ale, Sun God Wheat Ale and East Side Bitter.
Powell Street Craft Brewery
The philosophy behind Powell Street beer is fairly simple: they brew beers that they want to drink, and then share them for public enjoyment. A husband and wife team opened this brewery with a commitment to small, handcrafted batches that use all-natural ingredients. Rotating fresh brews of their Dive Bomb Porter, Old Jalopy Pale Ale and Hopdemonium IPA in the tasting room and growler-filling station, Powell Street prides themselves on treating all customers like family. In the winter of 2013, Powell Street was named the best nano-brewery in BC by the Northwest Brewing News’ Readers Choice Awards.
The eldest member of our list, Storm Brewing began operations with their Red Sky Alt (Altbier, German for “old beer”) in 1995. The careful attention to quality by brewmaster James Walton is known and reported throughout both the media and the trade. Storm Brewing is committed to producing small batches of unfiltered, additive-free beers. They brew the sought-after Hurricane IPA and Black Plague Stout, and distribute these and others to a number of restaurants around Vancouver. It’s remarkable what only two people can do when they’re this passionate about beer.
33 Acres Brewing Co.
A clean and simple concept brewery, 33 Acres promotes the spirit of community sharing. Drinks, food, conversation and ideas pass throughout their space as customers enjoy small-batch brews of quality beer. Drawing on influences from the Pacific Northwest surroundings, this brewer hosts two constant options in-house: 33 Acres of Life, an inventive hybrid of lager and ale; and 33 Acres of Ocean, a floral IPA with an assertive hop flavour. Brewing these two along with a variety of ever-changing small-batch inventions has made 33 Acres a great stop for having a beer or filling a bottle. They also distribute their beers to Vancouver restaurants with a similar ethos.
Brassneck’s triumphant opening in 2013 created a stir amongst beer enthusiasts. The location hosts a large tasting room, which serves plank flights of the current in-house varieties. They rotate their brews regularly but are known for having a huge variety of everything from Saisons to Stouts to Hefeweizens. They sell and fill bombers and growlers of fresh beer to any of-age customer. A number of Vancouver’s food trucks have also partnered with Brassneck, meaning that the food style shifts each night of the week. Brassneck encourages its customers to grab a bite from the nightly option and then bring it inside to enjoy with some freshly poured beers.