Two-year old Vancouver-based Vancouver Brewery Tours promises three breweries, three hours and plenty of beer. Who was I to refuse? Earlier this week, I set out to meet Ryan Mackey, who was busy rounding up our group of fellow beer lovers at Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar inside Waterfront Station, the starting point for our four-hour Beer and Food Tour (Tuesday evenings, the tour includes an entrée at the second brewery stop).
Vancouver Brewery Tours works with 14 different breweries in town, offering tours from a minimum of three to 14 guests (custom tours can accommodate groups of 28 and you get to pick the stops!). The company aims to work with a mix of old and new craft breweries: Storm Brewing, one of the city’s earliest craft breweries still in operation, was one of their first tour partners.
While most beer tours offer up samples and then you’re moving to the next stop, the beauty of this tour is getting taken behind the scenes for each, plus full flights at the three breweries. Ryan made himself at home at each of the stops, explaining beer brewing methods, ingredients used, and the latest trends in craft beer. Oh yeah, and then there’s the van, making for an ultra convenient way to get from one place to the next without getting behind the wheel.
The four-hour tour is relatively new in the Vancouver Brewery Tours lineup, offered on Tuesday evenings, when breweries aren’t to capacity. We had the option to purchase snacks at Brassneck while sampling a flight of their beers.
On this summery evening, our flights included Mr. Personality Amber Ale, Hibiscus Wheat Ale, Wingman Pale Ale (dry-hopped with Amarillo and Citra hops, a personal fave) and Geezer, an English-style Porter.
Alberta-based Big Rock Urban has opened a concept brewery at the of corner West 4th and Alberta Streets (!) with a great 150-seat restaurant (BRU Eatery) and small stage up front for live music. A quick walk from the Canada Line Olympic Village Station, it’s a modern brewpub, offering a solid menu with former Famoso Pizzeria Culinary Manager Alex Newton at the helm.
This isn’t just your normal pub fare though. Wasabi peas and chickeronnes (crispy fried chicken skin, togarashi and hop salt) are some of the snacks while signature tacos, BRU Stout mac and cheese, and pulled pork pizza feature on the mains.
Ready for dessert? We’re definitely coming back for the Fiasco s’mores with smoky pretzel crumb, Fiasco Big Rock chocolate stout gelato, Rauchbier ganache and bourbon vanilla marshmallow.
Our tour dinner options included a few of the dishes off the regular menu, and the best part of a visit here was the chance for each of us to pick our own beer flight. Here I discovered Citradelic IPA, a single-hopped brew that I can only hope is on their growler menu. The onsite store sells bottles of their locally-brewed beer plus cool gift items such as jars of Hop Salt, great for gifting.
While touring the beautiful facility, we sipped a glass of Mosaic Lager.
The third stop of the evening was at Strange Fellows, started by the head brewmaster at Yaletown Brewing Company. Strange Fellows is poised to become Vancouver’s “sour beer” house over the course of the next year, so if sour beer is your thing, this just might be your next local to frequent.
We sampled a Box of Strange (picked by Ryan): Wit, Framboise Noir, Saison, Talisman Pale Ale. The brewery offers growler fills and is currently into canning their beer, with bottling in the works.
The Clark Drive space has lots of room for expansion. Barrel aging is also integral to this relatively new craft brewery and co-founder Aaron Jonckheere enjoys dipping into his Belgian roots by way of traditional yet creative beer making methods.
Vancouver Brewery Tours offers tours year-round from Tuesdays to Sundays. The regular tour is $75 while the Tuesday evening food and beer tour costs $85. There’s definitely enough beer and a good-sized meal to enjoy over lively conversation (on my tour: a couple from Phoenix and a man from London, UK).
The end of the evening promises a goodie bag including just the perfect Vancouver souvenir to show off to your beer-loving friends back home, though there’s often locals that take this tour as well. Visit the website for detailed info and to book a tour. I was a guest on the Beer and Food Tour for the purpose of this feature. Opinions, as always, are my own.