Getting Merry on the Ultimate Vancouver Craft Beer Bike Tour

By Jane | September 2, 2015

Vancouver cycling, Vancouver craft beer, things to do in Vancouver, cheap things to do in Vancouver, craft beer, breweries, microbreweries, nano breweries

You know how much Stephen loves beer, right? And you know how much I love independent people who follow their passions, right?

And, of course, you know how much we both love biking in Vancouver.

Well, the other day we merged our passions into one awesome mash-up:

A Vancouver craft beer ‘n’ bike crawl through the brewery district!

With six breweries and one distillery on the list (and the six people we know in Vancouver by our side) we had our work cut out for us.

Luckily, these brewery tasting rooms are set up for just such an event. They all pour sample-sized glasses, ideal for sipping a variety of beers without getting too wasted. The glasses range from $1 to $2, making a Vancouver beer crawl a surprisingly affordable way to while away the evening.

We know that everyone’s taste buds are radically different, especially when it comes to beer. So this guide is not for beer snobs who want to know the nose and IBU of every brew. Nor are we going to rate the breweries (but we will tell you which one is our favourite) or tell you which beer to like (though we’ll tell you which ones we like).

Related: Don’t miss this great craft beer roundup of Burlington Vermont by Two Drifters

Instead, we proudly present the layperson’s guide to having an awesome Vancouver craft beer crawl.

Let the drinking begin!

Parallel 49 Brewing

Address: 1950 Triumph St
Established: 2013
Tasting room open: Daily 11am to 11pm

Core beers: Gypsy Tears Ruby Ale, Filthy Dirty IPA, Jerkface 9000 Northwest Wheat Ale, Craft Lager Munich Helles
Other beers: A large stable of seasonal, nitro, and barrel aged beers

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Parallel 49 taps. Photo by Hop Across Canada.

Ones to try: The Seedspitter summer seasonal watermelon Wit is a favourite of Jane’s. We also liked (a lot) the Apricot Sour Saison and the Grapefruit Radler.

Stephen’s note: I was really surprised by how much I liked the Grapefruit Radler. I generally think fruit does not belong in beer, but on a fun summer night out with friends this was great. Really it just tasted like fizzy grapefruit juice. The alcohol hidden within was just a bonus.

Tasting room:
We started at Parallel 49 which was the furthest from home and consequently the best one to bike to fully sober. It’s the least indie of the Vancouver’s indie beer scene, having experience massive growth right out of the starting gate. The large tasting room was crowded and buzzing when we got there. A few of our crew made the rookie mistake of ordering full flights or large glasses of beer. Start slowly people, this is only stop one!

What sets Parallel 49 apart:
This is the big brother of the brew scene, though they have only been open a few years, they have quickly grown into a powerhouse brewery. They have broad distribution and were even featured in the Molson beer garden (with duelling pianos!) at Vancouver’s Pacific National Exhibition this summer. While they are still an indie venture we wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve been fending off buy-out offers from the corporate beer contingent.

Doans Craft Brewing

Address: 1830 Powell St
Established: 2015
Tasting room open: W & Th, 12pm–9pm; F & Sa: 12pm–11pm; Su: 12pm–9pm

Core beers: Rye IPA, Kolsch, Altbier

Vancouver craft beer, Vancouver breweries, Vancouver bicycle tour, Vancouver by bike

Ones to try: Why not try all of them? They only have three after all!

Stephen’s note: I am a big fan of Rye IPA’s and wish more people experimented with them. Boxing Cat in Shanghai brew one as a seasonal beer and it’s exceptional. The challenge, for my taste, is to not allow the beer to edge too far into whiskey territory. Doan’s Rye IPA played the edge well, but this early in the crawl it was a touch rye-heavy for me.

Tasting room:
The tiny Doan’s tasting room is a homey affair with a large communal table filling up most of the tap room and a fun wall mural providing eye candy. A new kid on the block, the family-run brewery is starting small, sticking to just a few brews. Their tasting room is more homey and less uber-modern-hipster-cool than some of the rooms in the area.

Vancouver cycling, Vancouver craft beer, things to do in Vancouver, cheap things to do in Vancouver, craft beer, breweries, microbreweries, nano breweries

Jane enjoys her Kolsch in front of Doan’s crazy mural.

What sets Doan’s apart:
These guys have mad love for the vegetarians and their beer can be found at The Naam and Graze, two popular veggie restaurants in Vancouver.

Storm Brewing

Address: 310 Commercial Drive
Established: Way back in 1995!
Open: Su & M, 1pm–6pm; T-Sa, 10am–6pm

Core beers: Highland Scottish Ale, Hurricane IPA, Black Plague Stout, Imperial Flanders Red Sour Ale
Other beers: Vanilla Whisky Stout, Basil IPA, Apple Pie Ale, Pineapple Paradise Pilsner, and the Storm Drain Sour

Vancouver cycling, Vancouver craft beer, things to do in Vancouver, cheap things to do in Vancouver, craft beer, breweries, microbreweries, nano breweries

Some of the upcoming Storm brews in the making.

Ones to try: The Storm Drain Sour is by far the sourest sour we’ve ever tasted (it really could clean out your storm drains) and it garnered mixed reviews from our group. The Pineapple Paradise Pilsner is a flavourful fruity experience that even Stephen liked.

Stephen’s note: The Hurricane IPA is one of their original beers and as such isn’t as hoppy as a modern IPA. This is a more subtle balanced IPA – so not quite hoppy enough for me.

Vancouver cycling, Vancouver craft beer, things to do in Vancouver, cheap things to do in Vancouver, craft beer, breweries, microbreweries, nano breweries

This is what makes beer taste great at Storm Brewing.

Tasting room:
The folks at Storm make it very clear that they do not have a tasting room. Rather, you walk in right onto the brewing floor and stand amongst the tanks, pipes, and kegs. That means you might be sloshing around in wastewater and other beer-making slop while you drink.

Since this isn’t a tasting room, their beer isn’t for sale. But fear not. Anyone older than 19 is welcome to sample up to six beers. Samples are provided in exchange for a cash donation in the amount of your choosing.

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Proudly displaying their oddball Yelp reviews at Storm.

What sets it apart:
In Vancouver craft brewing time, Storm has been around forever! They are always experimenting so you can be sure they’ll have some amazing (and strange) flavours to try. They’ve created more than 90 varieties since 2013. You can also order a keg for you next kegger!

Odd Society Spirits

Address: 1725 Powell Street
Established: 2013
Tasting room open: Th 1-7 pm, F & Sa, 1-11:00 pm; Su 1-6pm

Core spirits: East Van Vodka, Wallflower Gin, Crème de Cassis, Canadian Single Malt Casks
Other drinks: Oaken Gin, Cocktails

Ones to try: We love the Oaken Gin and the BC Bramble cocktail.

Odd Society, gin, creme de cassis, cocktails

The cocktails at Odd Society are every bit as good as they look.

Stephen’s note: Their gin is fantastic. From label to bottle to contents, Odd Society is exquisite. Embibe!

Tasting room:
As the name suggests, Odd Society Spirits is not a brewery at all, but a craft distillery. Still, it is physically impossible to pass by without being drawn inside for a sip of their tipples or one of their creative cocktails. In a converted motorcycle garage, the Odd Society tasting room and distillery manage to be upscale but a little odd at the same time – which is why we love it.

Odd Society gin, craft gin, distillery Vancouver

Odd Society’s label design is just the icing on the spirits.

What sets Odd Society apart:
There’s no beer here and therefore Odd Society presented the perfect palate break sandwiched between breweries. Everything here is made from 100% BC agricultural products. Oh, and you can order yur very own private 30-litre cask of 3-year-aged Canadian Single Malt.

Powell Street Craft Brewery

Address: 1357 Powell St
Established: 2012
Tasting room open: M-Th 12pm-9pm, F-Sa 12pm-10pm, Su 12pm-8pm

Core beers: Old Jalopy Pale Ale, Dive Bomb Poter, Hopdemonium IPA, Ode to Citra Pale Ale, White IPA, Right Kind of Crazy Double IPA, Grisette, Czech Style Pilsner, Amarillo Sour

Ones to try: The Hopdemonium IPA is one of Stephen’s favourite BC beers and trust us, he has tried a lot! I liked the Amarillo Sour, too.

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The Powell Street tasting room. Photo by BC Craft Brewers Guild.

Stephen’s note: There’s a good view into the brewing room and I like the clean, bright space they managed to create. As Jane says, the Hopdemonium IPA is a great brew. I drink it regularly.

Tasting room:
Admittedly, things were getting a little foggy by this point in the tour, possibly because of the full-size cocktails we all enjoyed at our last stop, but the Powell Street tasting room didn’t really stick in my mind. What does stick in my mind is Powell Street’s outstanding label design for their core brews, Old Jalopy Pale Ale, Hopdemonium, and Dive Bomb Porter.

Vancouver cycling, Vancouver craft beer, things to do in Vancouver, cheap things to do in Vancouver, craft beer, breweries, microbreweries, nano breweries

Powell Street’s tasting room provides an excellent view of their brewhouse.

What sets Powell Street apart:
Powell Street’s Old Jalopy Pale Ale won the Canadian Brewing Awards Beer of the Year award in 2013 when they were a brand new nano brewery. The ensuing buzz prompted them to expand quickly and in 2014, they opened their new tasting room.

Callister Brewing

Address: 1338 Franklin Street
Established: 2015
Tasting room open: W 2pm-8pm, Th-F 2pm-9pm, Sa 1pm-9pm, Su 1pm-6pm

Regular beers: Real Cask Burnley Bastard Mild, Real Cask Blackburn Best Bitter, Brewery Creek Saison
Guest and seasonal: Machine Brewing Sesh’uinox, Machine Brewing Dank Williams IPA, Callister Hastings Sunrise American Wheat Ale, Callister Round 2 Rye Pale Ale, Callister Das Alt

Vancouver cycling, Vancouver craft beer, things to do in Vancouver, cheap things to do in Vancouver, craft beer, breweries, microbreweries, nano breweries

Stephen and Sam parking their bikes outside Callister Brewing. Love that typeface!

Ones to try: The beer list changes pretty quickly at Callister, so you’ll have to just experiment with whatever’s available when you stop in.

Stephen’s note: The pictures prove I did go to Callister but I sure don’t remember it. I may have been getting a little lightheaded by this point because Jane assures me it was one of the most memorable tasting rooms on the crawl.

Tasting room:
The brand new tasting room at Callister was one of the most appealing on our tour. They don’t depart far from the standard polished concrete floors, natural wood tables, and colourful chalkboards common in craft breweries around the world, but somehow they have managed to create an especially enticing space.

Vancouver cycling, Vancouver craft beer, things to do in Vancouver, cheap things to do in Vancouver, craft beer, breweries, microbreweries, nano breweries

Kris ordering from Chris at Callister Brewing.

What sets Callister apart:
The Callister Brewery is actually a brewing co-op, renting space to other brewers who want to make great beer without owning a brewery. Right now, three brewers with impressive Vancouver beer pedigrees operate out of the Callister space.

Real Cask is being brewed by former CAMRA Vancouver president Adam Chatburn, Brewery Creek comes from the team behind the Brewery Creek speciality liquor store on Main Street, and Machine is being created by the guys behind Copper & Theory, artisan beer suppliers.

Bomber Brewing

Address: 1488 Adanac Street
Established: 2014
Tasting room open: Daily 12pm-11pm

Core beers: ESB, IPA, Pilsner
Seasonal: Marzen, Blonde, Superpest Double IPA, Absolute Horizon CDA, Shut Out Stout, Bike Route Best Bitter, Choqlette Porter, Park Life Seasonal Passion Fruit, Old Fat Heather Winter Ale, Oktoberfest

Ones to try: I’m a fan of the summer seasonal Parklife (and not just because it’s named for a song by my favourite band). The Bike Route Best Bitter gets a mention too, not because either of us likes bitter, but it does have a great name.

craft breweries, Vancouver beer

Free air at Bomber Brewing. Almost as good as free beer.

Stephen’s note: Bomber Brewing’s IPA, simply called IPA, is perfectly named. It is a straight ahead, no messing around, hop-loaded IPA. And I love it. Because it’s canned, easy to carry, and delicious, this is my go-to IPA when in Vancouver.

Tasting room:
Bomber Brewing has become our favourite tasting room in Vancouver and if you only have time to visit one (god forbid!), we recommend Bomber. Its cozy seating area is always full and the tight squeeze necessitates camaraderie with your fellow drinkers. There’s just something in the air at Bomber that makes any time a great time to visit.

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Bomber Brewing is an excellent place to finish the night.

What sets Bomber apart:
They have an ample bike rack outside (crucial in this bike-friendly city) and even provide an air pump in case your tires are a little low. Their outdoor signage and bottle label design are just lovely. And finally, a stack of board games (including table top curling, which actually works better on the tasting room floor) awaits if conversation hits a lull.

But Wait, There’s More

It may seem like six breweries and one distillery all within easy biking distance of each other is more than enough. But wait, there’s a whole other tour to be made from the nearby breweries we didn’t get to: Coal Harbour Brewing, Off the Rail, Main Street, Strange Fellows and Postmark Brewing. Good thing we live so close to Vancouver we can easily go back for another round.

If you can’t ride a bike and don’t want to walk between breweries, the Vine & Hops shuttle can take you around to a selection of breweries in town.

Egészségedre!  

6 comments

  1. Comment by Parallel 49 Brewing

    Parallel 49 Brewing Reply September 9, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    Thank’s for coming down guys!

    The neighbourhood is sure growing up and we’re super proud of our “big brother” status in such an awesome scene that’s forming here in “Yeast Van”. Next time you swing on through let us know!

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane September 16, 2015 at 7:49 am

      We hope to be back again soon! The way things are now, Vancouver should be top of craft beer enthusiasts lists when they’re planning a holiday.

  2. Comment by mike doan

    mike doan Reply September 8, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    Thank you for the post! Doan’s keeps growing week by week! We now have weekly Lego nights and a new arcade which balances our geekiness with our veggie/vegan passions! We also are guaranteed to have 4 beers on tap and often 5, so pop on by any time to check out our new seasonals! Cheers!

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane September 9, 2015 at 11:20 am

      LEGO nights! So awesome. We loved Doan’s homey feel and can’t think of a better place to hang out with friends playing LEGO and drinking fine brews :)

  3. Comment by Jane

    Jane Reply September 3, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Hey Kellie,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment (and to read the post)! Yeah, it was long, but I guess I never expect anyone to read every word – just to scan for whatever interests them.

    Also, can I just say, sommelier seems like one of the world’s coolest jobs. It’s even fun to say it. “Sommelier”. Sound much better than “blogger”!

    Jane

  4. Comment by Kellie

    Kellie Reply September 3, 2015 at 6:50 am

    Sounds like such a fun post. I just had 49 Grapefruit Radler, I’m a stickler for Stiegl but it was nice to try something new. I picked up your link from Badass and I write over at Princess and the Yard Ape. I’m a Sommelier and love anything food and wine related. Your post was very well written but extremely long and when you said, “Oh, and there’s more I was thinking ‘Oh, my frig, there can be more.’
    You certainly reflect the passion for adventures. Keep up the great work and have lots of fun. Looking forward to seeing you in the Badass thread again soon.
    Kellie

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