Best Local Beer

July 2, 2011

Best Local Brews

Central City Brewing Co. Beer geeks take SkyTrain pilgrimages to this brewpub—Brewery of the Year at the 2010 Canadian Brewing Awards—near Surrey Central station. Brewmaster Gary Lohin can’t seem to miss—every style he brews is bang-on. Get This Red Racer IPA is the standard against which all IPAs are measured in B.C., if not Canada. If it’s too hoppy, try the Classic White Ale, an effervescent Belgian-style brew. 13450 102 Ave., Surrey, 604-582-6620. Centralcitybrewing.com

Storm Brewing If Lohin is the city’s craft-brewing god, Storm’s James Walton is our devil. He’s always been two steps ahead, brewing styles others daren’t try—like his latest fruit lambics, a sour Belgian-style fruit beer aged for over a year in oak. Get This Precipitation Pilsner packs more flavour than your typical big-brewery pilsner but is still a great summer sipper. Stormbrewing.org for restaurants and pubs

R&B Brewing Rick Dellow and Barry Benson started with English-style beers, but R&B now produces just about every style going—each as good as the last. Get This R&B’s Sun God Wheat Ale is one of the city’s best patio beers. Light-bodied but still flavourful—enjoy a few in the sun without worry for the morning after. R-and-b.com for restaurants and pubs

Granville Island Brewing When Molson-Coors bought GIB shortly after its 25th birthday in 2009, fans worried Canada’s oldest microbrewery would lose its edge. But GIB’s local flavours, named after Vancouver neighbourhoods and landmarks, haven’t changed noticeably, and brewmaster Vern Lambourne’s monthly limited releases, cooked up at the brewery on Granville Island, are always worth seeking out. Get This The cloudy, wheaty Robson Street Hefeweizen 1441 Cartwright St., 604-687-2739. Gib.ca

Russell Brewing Another Surrey-based brewery, Russell dates back to the mid ’90s but was re-energized in 2004 by new management. Although its standard series of ales and lagers is not that exciting, the Brewmaster series in bomber bottles features some delicious beers with clever names: Blood Alley Bitter, Black Death Porter, IP’eh!, and A Wee Angry Scotch Ale. Get This Russell’s flagship Cream Ale founded the brewery, and it’s still a tasty brew. Darker than most summer beers, it’s utterly quaffable. Russellbeer.com for restaurants and pubs

Visit author Joe Wiebe's blog at Thirstywriter.com

Best Pubs and Beer-Friendly Restaurants

The Alibi Room When Nigel Springthorpe became co-owner in 2006 he transformed this “modern tavern” into beer nirvana, with more than 45 taps showcasing the best craft beer from B.C. and the rest of Cascadia. As if it could get any better, the Alibi also serves great food, thanks to head chef Greg Armstrong, formerly of Habit Lounge. 157 Alexander St., 604-623-3383. Alibi.ca

Chambar The Belgians produce the most diverse range of beers: crisp, effervescent wit beers, perfect for the patio; spicy, peppery Farmhouse saisons; sweet, potent Trappist dubbels and tripels, brewed and consumed by monks for centuries; fruit-infused lambics and sour brown ales, boosted with funky wild yeasts. This incredible range of flavours and styles makes Belgian beer perfect for pairing with food, and chef Nico Schuermans knows this better than anyone. 562 Beatty St., 604-879-7119. Chambar.com

Six Acres Housed in the city’s oldest brick building, Six Acres showcases more than 40 bottled beers from around the world, and a menu heavy on shareables. 203 Carrall St., 604-488-0110. Sixacres.ca

Steamworks Conrad Gmoser is one of the longest-serving brewmasters in town, and the beer at his edge-of-Gastown brewpub is always excellent. Try the aromatic Raspberry Frambozen. 375 Water St., 604-689-2739. Steamworks.com

The Whip
At the forefront of the craft-beer revolution for many years, the Whip—serving East Van heroes Storm and R&B—has helped popularize cask beer with its regular Sunday sessions. 209 E. Sixth Ave., 604-874-4687. Thewhiprestaurant.com

Yaletown Brewing
The massive patio is ideal for people-watching (the brewpub itself was an anchor for the area’s revitalization in the mid ’90s), and brewmaster Iain Hill’s Brick & Beam IPA is one of the province’s best beers. 1111 Mainland St., 604-681-2739. Drinkfreshbeer.com

Local Cask Events 

Cask conditioning deepens and expands malt and hop flavours, resulting in a beverage that is richer and more complex than what you typically get from a keg, bottle, or can. Brewers often get playful with cask recipes, resulting in unique, delicious brews you can’t get elsewhere. The Alibi Room and Irish Heather (210 Carrall St., 604-688-9779. Irishheather.com) always have them on offer. Elsewhere in town, there are events scheduled for virtually every night of the week:

Weekly Cask Events

Granville Room (957 Granville St.)
Mondays @ 4 pm
St. Augustine’s (2360 Commercial Dr.)
Mondays @  6 pm
Railway Club (579 Dunsmuir St.)
Tuesdays @ 5 pm
Yaletown Brewing Co. (1111 Mainland St.)
Thursdays @  4 pm
London Pub (700 Main St.)
Fridays @ 5 pm
The Whip (209 E. Sixth Ave.)
Sundays @ 4 pm

Monthly Cask Events

Cascade Room (2616 Main St.)
first Wednesday of the month, 5 pm
Sunset Grill (2204 York Ave.)
last Thursday of the month, 6 pm
Taylor’s Crossing (1035 Marine Dr., North Van)
first Friday of the month, 5 pm
Abigail’s Party (1685 Yew St.)
second Tuesday of the month, 5:30 pm
Central City Brewing (13450 102 Ave., Surrey)
last Saturday of the month, 4 pm

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