Sat. Jan 28th, 2023

If you are heading for Whistler for a ski vacation or traveling anywhere else in British Columbia, it’s a daunting task for American beer enthusiasts to determine which craft breweries are the best in the huge Canadian province.

British Columbia beer expert Joe Wiebe, the author of Craft Beer Revolution: The Insider’s Guide to B.C. Breweries, can provide some great suggestions. Wiebe also publishes the Thirsty Writer website and was the co-founder of the annual Victoria Beer Week and the BC Ale Trail.

“British Columbia is home to nearly 250 craft breweries, most of which have opened in the past decade,” Wiebe says. “The two main brewing centers are Vancouver, B.C.’s largest city, and Victoria, the provincial capital located at the bottom of Vancouver Island. But there are craft breweries distributed throughout the province.”

Ten favorite breweries are recommended by Wiebe below, followed by his comments about each.

Backcountry Brewing, Squamish. “Gone are the days when Squamish was just a pit stop on the way to Whistler. It’s now a destination in its own right, thanks in large part to this excellent brewery. The brewery is famous for making more new beers every year than anybody else and naming them after pop culture touchstones.”

Brassneck Brewery, Vancouver. “Part of a new wave of tasting-room-forward breweries that kicked off an explosion of new and exciting breweries in B.C. a decade ago, Brassneck remains one of the best places to enjoy a beer in Vancouver.”

Cannery Brewing, Penticton. “Although Penticton is in the heart of the Okanagan’s wine country, this small, welcoming city between two lakes is also home to a strong craft beer scene that has been led by Cannery Brewing for more than 20 years.”

Dageraad Brewing, Burnaby. “Named for a city square in Antwerp, Belgium, Dageraad celebrates Belgian beer culture with a delicious and creative beer lineup and a gorgeous tasting room. The brewery has won multiple awards, including Canadian Brewery of the Year in 2018.”

Field House Brewing, Abbotsford. “A leader of the craft beer scene in the Fraser Valley just east of Vancouver, Field House celebrates the region’s agricultural roots by working with local producers, embracing barrel aging and even blurring the lines between wine and beer with some hybrid styles.”

Jackknife Brewing, Kelowna. “Kelowna’s craft beer scene has exploded recently with the arrival of more than a dozen new breweries in the past five years. Jackknife stands out from the crowd with its focus on kveik beers and its progressive stance on equity and inclusion. Also: amazing pizza!”

Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub, Victoria. “The ‘cradle of the revolution,’ Spinnakers was Canada’s first modern-era brewpub when it opened in 1984 with a focus on British ales and good food. It continues to be relevant today and worthy of a pilgrimage for any beer lover. Make sure you order a pint of cask-conditioned Mitchell’s ESB, just as it has been served for nearly 40 years.”

Strange Fellows Brewing, Vancouver. “Iain Hill spent a long time brewing at a trendy Yaletown brewpub better known for its cocktails than its beers. But everyone who tasted his beer knew that if he ever got a chance to open his own spot, he would knock it out. Indeed, that is what he has done at Strange Fellows, with a beer list that encompasses all the best styles and a strong focus on foedre-aged Belgians and wild ales.”

Townsite Brewing, Powell River. “It takes two ferries and most of a day to get to Powell River from Vancouver or Victoria, but Townsite Brewing makes it worthwhile. Founded by a brewing couple from Belgium and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, this brewery is based in a gorgeous 1950s building in the Townsite neigbborhood, a National Historic District.

Twin City Brewing, Port Alberni. “Once a hidden gem when it opened in a down-at-its-heels forestry town at the center of Vancouver Island, Twin City caught beer lovers’ attention by winning Best in Show at the 2018 BC Beer Awards. Since then, it has become a destination to visit for folks who love good craft beer and pizza. It also inspired two other breweries (Alberni Brewing and Dog Mountain Brewing) to open in Port Alberni.”

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