Not too long ago a good friend, Mal Harkness, asked me to arrange a beerwalk, or a walking tour of craft breweries, in the Grandview-Woodlands area (East End) of Vancouver. He knew that I frequent these places regularly for growlers (1.89 l refillable bottles) of unique and tasty fresh beer. He also knew that my shaded past involved quite a bit of home brewing so he figured I was the natural choice to lead the expedition. So with a little prompting I created a manageable walking tour of three of the city’s finest craft beer breweries along with one of the city’s new craft distilleries. We dragged along two members of Mal’s soccer team, Billy Rawsen and George Thompson, along with one of our fencing students, Nadine Wagner-Westerbarkey.
The plan was fairly simple: starting from a meeting point at Commercial Drive and Hastings Street in Vancouver we would first visit the three breweries before a stop at the distillery and a late lunch at a local restaurant. Below is the map of the route we took:
- We started at Storm Brewing. This is one of the oldest “Craft Beer” breweries in Vancouver and rightly famous for their dark beers and classic styles of European Ales. There’s usually between 6 and 10 beers on tap, four regular beers (including the sweet, thick and delicious Black Plague Stout) along with a rotating selection of so called “Brainstorm” concoctions. We were fortunate to find their classic extremely tart but delicious Imperial Flanders Red Ale on tap, along with some interesting brews such as Creamsicle and Rosemary. Cost is by donation, but you should expect to drop about $5 into the tip jar per person. I’ll be honest, this is my favourite breweries in the world and I’ve been a long time fan of brewmaster James Walton. (310 Commercial Drive)
- Next up was Parallel 49th Brewing and the most commercial of the three breweries. Most of the beers on tap are available at government liquor stores and select cold beer and wine outlets, but they usually have one or two that are not. Although not available on our visit, one of my favourites is their Salty Scot. Recently they have been experimenting with nitrogenated beers with some good results. The tasting room is very spacious and can easily handle larger groups. They sell samples by the 4oz glass for 1.15 plus tax, or you can buy a flight of four samples for $3.50. (1946 Triumph Street)
- Next in line was Powell Street Craft Brewery. This is the smallest of the three breweries for the day. It is also the smallest in terms of space and it will be a tight squeeze depending on how many are in your group. This is the only brewery in the walk that only sells its beer on site. They are best known for producing really heavily hopped Northwest style ales. The sell only glasses of beer at $3.50/each so if everyone wants to sample, you might want to buy a few and share. Unfortunately I discovered that they are in the process of moving and will only be at this location until July 5th, 2014. (1830 Powell Street)
- The last drinking spot was a bit of an add on. Odd Society Spirits is a relatively young, small batch distillery. They haven’t yet developed a wide range of different alcohol varieties, but at some point in the near future they will be producing a gin and offering a Canadian whiskey. When we dropped in, they had East Van Vodka and a great Crème De Cassis available. They will allow very small samples, but also make great cocktails – Approximately $8-10. (1725 Powell Street)
- Kessel&March is a pleasant bistro a few doors down from the distillery where we grabbed a bite post walk. They have some local suds from Howe Sound Brewing on tap and run a brunch menu until 3pm Saturdays. (1701 Powell Street)
The beerwalk turned out to be a lot of fun for all of us and very manageable in about a three hour window. Here’s a few additional shots from the area and a couple of outtakes from the trip (shots courtesy of Nadine).