By Kristi Alexandra
& Mary Ann Bell
With indie breweries becoming almost as ubiquitous as Starbucks’ in Vancouver, you’d have to be wearing blinders to miss a brewpub or tasting room on any given block between Boundary Road and Kits Beach. But Vancouver’s not the only city under the influence, as the craft brewing boom has reached through Burnaby to the Valley, taking root in the communities in between.
This year, brews from outlying towns are making a splash at the ninth annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week, running from May 25 to June 5.
Once again this year, it seems communities outside the big city are unofficially on show. The week-long fete’s feature collaboration beer is a shared effort between three breweries found along the spectacular Sea to Sky Highway: North Vancouver’s Beere Brewing, Backcountry Brewing in Squamish and Whistler’s Coast Mountain Brewing.
In keeping with craft beer trends, this year’s VCBW signature beer is a Double Dry Hopped Pilsner. With 7% alcohol and copious amounts of Citra, Mosaic, Vic Secret and Enigma hops this beer is clean and soft, with a “powerful melange of fruit and dankness.”
Sea to Sky Country is just one area outside Vancouver that’s flourishing in beer flow — there’s a whole bevy of brewers that’ll keep you sipping during this seven-day soiree.
Perhaps an allusion to Fort Langley’s historic trade hub, Trading Post Brewing is all about celebrating community. “It is over a glass of that very creation, a labour of our love, where friendships deepen, family ties strengthen and community unites,” they say.
Beers they’re hawking: Dear James S.M.A.S.H Saison – a single malt, single hop saison with notes of fruit and spice; Hoppy Birthday Bock – inspired by the first beer they ever brewed, the Hop Session Lager, they’ve upped the hops and ABV on this classic style to crate a smooth, easy-drinking Northwest Bock; Raspberry Wheat Ale – sweet, strong and juicy making it seriously crushable during the summer months.
Steel & Oak Brewing Co. is nestled under a passenger bridge near steel and wood train tracks, the most unassuming of places, but one aligned with their brand. “Materials of strength and durability, steel and oak; house, protect and nurture what we stand for most – exceptional tasting craft beer,” as they put it.
Beers they’re hawking: Coorinna – Tasmanian pepper berries and a collection of New Zealand hop varietals create a crisp and dry, oceanic inspired saison with a touch of spice; Simple Things – crisp, clean, with notes of honey, graham cracker, biscuit and a refreshing and lengthy bitterness; Weekend Plans Sour – light, tart and refreshing, just like you’d want your weekend plans to be. And for 2018 they added passionfruit to one batch and peach to the other … weekend plans two ways.
With a motto like “Keeping Beer Weird”, it’s no wonder that the brewers at Fuggles & Warlock like to push traditional styles of beer to the limit, but adding a West Coast flair to each batch.
Beers they’re hawking: Destiny IPA – a light, easy-going malt profile with hop aromas of mandarin oranges, grapefruit and passionfruit that launch your taste buds into the cosmos; Gin & Lime Pilsner – a crisp, refreshing pilsner brewed with fresh limes and infused with Unruly Gin from Wayward Distillation House; Kiwami Plum Sour – a delicately tart wheat kettle sour brewed with fresh plums.
Central City Brewers started out with a single silo in a brewpub and they’ve now “tapped-out” beyond their craft beer limits. Known best by their signature Red Racer beers, the brand has also come to distill high-end spirits as well as break records in beer production. “We approach our spiritual side with the same care and honour as we do with our beer” — or so their mantra goes.
Beers they’re hawking: Red Racer IPA – an iintense aroma and a long lingering finish. A beer for the connoisseur, this is the brewmaster’s choice; Red Racer Pilsner – This light and golden Pilsner has a distinct hop aroma and flavour with a dry, crisp finish; Ruby Sunset Across the Nation – Created in collaboration with Fuggles & Warlock for their Across the Nation Collaboration pack, Ruby Sunset is a delicious sour ale using pomegranate juice that is reminiscent of a west-coast summer sunset.
Mariner Brewing, Coquitlam’s first craft brewery, is driven by a desire to explore territory unknown and push the boundaries of craft beer. Instead of specializing in one or two styles, they love a lot of different types and want to offer it all … done well, of course. Look for beers ranging from eclectic to classic by merging tradition and new-school style.
Beers they’re hawking: Northeast IPA – lush malt and vibrant yeast temper the intense tropical fruit flavour making for an seriously quaffable beer; Tropical Stout – brewed for summer, this tropical stout is full of rich roasted malt, toasted coconut and blonde roast espresso from Coquitlam’s Creekside Coffee; Venture Blueberry – a sour ale brewed with 1000 pounds of local blueberries, lactose and an aromatic extract of mosaic hops that’s fruity, tart and delicious.
This North Vancouver based brewery places an emphasis on providing uniquely distinctive craft beer flavour profiles using only sustainable Canadian ingredients. They provide an array of unconventional pairings that yield seamless, well-balanced beers while paying homage to the creative history of the industry.
What they’re hawking: Method – a dry-hopped pale ale that is being fine-tuned through multiple batches that has a soft and full mouth feel from a healthy dose of oats; Sentinel –an IPA that boasts big, fragrant hop character with a balancing sweetness; Watershed Witbier – pairs the refreshing flavours of a Belgian-style witbier with the lemon-mandarin profile of the Yuzu fruit.