What: While the overall quality of beer produced within Vancouver itself varies wildly, the city has become something of a focal point for British Columbia microbrews in general, home to a handful of terrific local-beer bars and, as of 2010, its very own annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week, held each spring. Vancouver brewpubs, British Columbia microbrews: Don’t hesitate to try as many regional beers as you can here—you likely won’t find them anywhere else in the world.
When: Daily, 11:30am-10pm
Order: Samplers go for CAD$14 and feature six of the pub’s eight handcrafted on-tap beers. These aren’t the best beers in town—you might consider just getting a pint of the Cartwright Pale Ale or Jamaican Lager, our favorites of the bunch—but the lovely waterfront patio setting, overlooking False Creek and the Yaletown skyline, makes up for it. This is a nice place to close out some Granville Island market shopping with a cold beer.
Other brewpubs: In the heart of Gastown, the Steamworks Brewing Co. (375 Water St., map) covers the usual styles of beer, in a spacious setting with a nice big bar and cozy lounge area; Yaletown has the stylish Yaletown Brewing Co. (1111 Mainland St., map), an award-winning Mark James Group brewpub established in 1994 with decent beers. Joining Dockside on Granville Island is Granville Island Brewing Co. (1441 Cartwright St., map), Canada’s first microbrewery when it was established in 1984. Nowadays, GIB is owned by Molson Coors Canada, somewhat controversially peddled under that company’s new craft-beer umbrella, Six Pints Specialty Beer Co.; production’s gone up and GIB has already expanded into other provinces. To taste the beer that’s still brewed on-site, stick to the seasonals there.
Breweries: On your jaunts around town, keep an eye out for beers from the award-winning R&B Brewing (54 E. 4th Ave., map) and the innovative keg-only Storm Brewing (310 Commercial Dr., map), both Vancouver-based micros. Storm offers informal tours in its small brewery, but requests that you call ahead. There are, of course, tons of other good BC breweries to look for in this city, such as Mount Begbie, Tree, Nelson, and Crannog, the latter two both doing organic beers. (See also: Local craft beers in Victoria)
Beer bars/restaurants: At the edge of Gastown you’ll find perhaps the ideal spot to pull up a stool and taste the beers of British Columbia: The Alibi Room (157 Alexander St., map). It’s effectively a one-stop shop of the region’s best brews, including cask ales and aged beers from the cellar; you’ll often find offerings from both Storm and R&B here, as well as some of the better beers from nearby Victoria. The divier Railway Club (579 Dunsmuir St., map) downtown also carries good locals, with live music to boot, and we liked Gastown’s Irish Heather (210 Carrall St., map), both for its beer selection and friendly gastropub environment. Also consider O’Doul’s (1300 Robson St., map) on the West End, with a great beer list and live jazz, or, if you’re in the mood for terrific seasonal Indian food, Vij’s (1480 W. 11th Ave., map), which serves beers from Storm Brewing only.
Good to know: You won’t be without good local beer if you make the spectacular drive to Whistler: En route, there’s the popular Howe Sound Brewing in adventure-sporty Squamish, and while in Whistler Village, you might check out Brewhouse, another Mark James Group brewpub.