Boozy Vancouver: Beer, Sake, and Spirits

Whether your drink of choice is craft beer, sake, or small-batch spirits, you’ll find plenty to sip and sample in Vancouver. A spirited revolution is under way, as new craft breweries, distilleries and other spirit-producers have opened across the city. Here’s where to find this drinkable bounty.

vancouver highrise buildings with a bike path crossing sign
You know a city has an active craft beer scene when the bike paths advertise growlers. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Vancouver’s Beer Scene

Start your craft beer tour in the Main Street/Mount Pleasant neighborhood, a short walk from the Olympic Village, where several breweries with tasting rooms are within strolling distance of each other. You can alternate between 33 Acres of Sunshine (a blond summer ale) and 33 Acres of Darkness (a malty dark beer) at 33 Acres Brewing, try whatever is new among the frequently changing small-batch brews at Brassneck Brewery, or see what’s on tap at Main Street Brewing.

Even more craft breweries have set up shop further east, in the mixed industrial-residential district east of Clark Drive, between Hastings and Powell Streets. This neighborhood isn’t the most picturesque, but with lots of excellent beer to sample, it’s perfect for a brewery crawl. Popular tasting stops include Parallel 49 Brewing Company (which now has a menu of burgers, tacos, and snacks to pair with your pint), Powell Street Craft Brewery, Strange Fellows Brewing, and Callister Brewing, which bills itself as “Canada’s first collaborative brewery,” partnering with—and pouring beer from—a changing roster of small beer makers.

If you want a full immersion into the local beer scene, mark your calendar for the annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week (in 2018, it’s May 25–June 3), with events drawing more than 100 craft breweries and cider makers.

chalk board with beers written on it
A sampling of what’s on tap at Callister Brewing. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Sake in Granville Island

Do you want to learn more about sake? You’ve come to the right place: on Granville Island, the Artisan Sake Maker, Vancouver’s only local producer of Japanese rice wine, has a tiny shop and tasting room. The knowledgeable staff can tell you all about how sake is brewed, while you sample one or more of the maker’s different varieties.

artisan sake maker sign in Granville Island
The Artisan Sake Maker has a small Granville Island tasting room. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Vancouver’s Small-Batch Spirits

To survey Vancouver’s small batch spirits, you need to venture across the city, as craft distilleries have opened in several different neighborhoods. Vancouver’s first micro-distillery, Long Table Distillery, is located on the fringes of Yaletown and produces several types of vodka and gin in their 80-gallon copper-pot still. Kick off your weekend with their popular Gin & Tonic Fridays (3–9 p.m.).

Across False Creek, on Granville Island, Liberty Distilling hand-crafts small batches of traditional gin, vodka, and whiskey. They signal the start of happy hour—Monday through Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m.—by tooting a steam whistle.

Head to the North Shore, where Sons of Vancouver Distillery is current producing vodka (including a chili vodka) and amaretto in a tiny North Vancouver space. Visit on the weekends to sample what they’ve crafted.

On Vancouver’s East Side, Odd Society Spirits makes East Van Vodka, Wallflower Gin, and Mongrel “Moonshine” Whiskey in a former motorcycle garage that now houses their distillery, tasting bar, and cocktail lounge. Try a tasting flight or opt for a mixed drink at their long marble bar, and toast to the local spirits scene.


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