By Kristi Alexandra
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 eighth annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week, running from May 26 to June 4.
“We keep growing and changing every year because we want to create this beer experience that all of us want to experience ourselves,” says co-founder and events director Leah Heneghan.
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 the four breweries that dot Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row: Yellow Dog, Twin Sails, Moody Ales, and Parkside.
Dubbed “Hazy Pale”, VCBW’s signature beer is a hazy pale ale infused with passionfruit and guava – a perfect tithing to summertime. But Port Moody’s not the only city outside Vancouver 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; Three Bears Breakfast Stout – an oatmeal stout with a strong raspberry flavour will have you feeling just right; West Coast IPA – a traditional West Coast India Pale Ale with tropical fruit fused into Pacific North West pine.
While these brewers started out with a single silo in a brewpub, 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 Amber Ale – From their award-winning line, a blend of Chinook and Centennial hops make a coastal-inspired brew with citrus and pine flavours.
Brewing up small-batch artisan beers reminiscent of the Dageraadplaats, a neighbourhood square on the east side of Antwerp, Belgium, Dageraad Brewing is a traditional throwback to beer culture from its point of inception.
Beers they’re hawking: Dageraad Blonde – a fruity, spicy, and bubbly blonde with a touch of caramelized sugar sweetness and a floral crown. Just like a dame at Coachella; Dageraad White – a creamy, citrusy wheat ale traditionally from the Brabant region of Belgium.
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.
What they’re hawking: Roselle – Hibiscus and rose hips create a crisp and refreshing wheat ale packed with floral notes, banana, raspberry and a touch of spice; Shiny Things IPA – Hallertau Blanc, Huell Melon, and Mandarina Bavaria hops add a new age German twist on this juicy IPA. They seem Oktoberfest-ready; Weekend Plans Sour – light, tart and refreshing, just like you’d want your weekend plans to be. Amarillo, Citra, and Centennial hops with an oat malt.
This award-winning craft brewery from the Fraser Valley caught the attention of drinkers with their slogan “Nothing goes down like a cold, dead frog.” While the comparison is questionable, nothing beats this brewery’s creativity.
Beers they’re hawking: Blueberry Blast – a crisp sour wheat ale bursting with flavours of lemon and fresh local blueberries; Green Magic – a coastal-style IPA with citrus and pine for a crisp finish; Tropic Vice – a refreshing golden ale brimming with flavours of mango and passion fruit, and channeling ‘80s TV cop drama vibes.
Located in Abbotsford on a “magical beer lawn with an outdoor stage,” where musicians are invited to perform weekly, Field House Brewing Co. sounds like the stuff of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Their rotating tap is called the Adventure Tap, and we imagine it always tastes like something out of a Celtic folk tale.
What they’re hawking: Dark Brett – a “dark-as-dusk beer” with dank but citrusy flavours; Light Brett – a sunny alternative to the Dark Brett with white wine and stone fruit notes; Sour Wheat Gose – a 16th century-style German salted sour wheat ale with coriander and elderflower, brewed with hand-harvested sea salt by Vancouver Island Salt Co.