Most of Vancouver’s best craft microbreweries are just off the shores of False Creek, somewhere you will undoubtedly encounter when you’re in Vancouver.
I love beer, I’m not going to lie. And some of these breweries not only offer some of the Pacific North Wests’ best brews, but they have great food and drinking spaces to go with it.
If you’re like us and enjoy exploring places on foot, most of these could be done in a day. In fact, these eight breweries span an eight kilometre walk, that with a pint or a flight at each, make up a great day out as a walking Vancouver beer tour. Or take your time, pace yourself and enjoy it over a couple of days.
Here’s our Vancouver Beer Tour – exploring False Creek breweries on foot:
1. Granville Island Brewing
Everyone who arrives in Vancouver will at one stage or another end up at Granville Island – it is after all, one of Canada’s most visited tourism spots (with over 10m visitors annually).
Granville Island Brewery (GIB) is a Vancouver craft beer pioneer that was established in 1984, and while they still brew their small batches onsite, the majority are now brewed elsewhere.
GIB offers a varied selection of annual beers, better seasonal’s and fun small batches – it’s a beer tourism mecca. They cater for every palate with a full range of beer varieties on tap from fruits and larger to Creams, ISAs, IPAs, porters and stouts. The staff are busy but usually attentive, and they have a quality enclosed growler filler, although you can only ever get one type of growler fill, whatever their current small batch is.
GIB also offers tours and tastings, but the best way to experience Granville Island Beer is to show up to their public tasting room on Granville Island after you’ve wandered around the famous markets and had something to eat, and enjoy a tasting (flight) or sleeves of their beers. There is also a full merchandise and off-sales shop within the building.
Beer recommendation: Lions Winter Ale (seasonal – October to March)
2. Big Rock Brewery
After a beer or a flight at the touristy GIB, enjoy the scenic walk along the creek’s seawall toward Science World. When you get to Cambie Bridge, find your way to 4th Ave and Alberta St.
Big Rock Urban Eatery is a Calgary born craft brewery that after 30 years, finally opened its doors in Vancouver in April 2015. The interior is designed well, and you have the option to sit in the seated restaurant style area or at the bar (in view of the big shiny brewing tanks).
A variety of beer styles are on offer and their food is small but very tasty (we keep coming back). You won’t be disappointed with their awesome charcuterie board or the flavours of their pizzas.
They have a small stage for live music (which I don’t really love the layout for) and watch out for the swinging saloon washroom doors, but everything else is top notch.
Big Rock serve their beers in pints, sleeves and flights, and their bar is fully stocked with local and imported spirits and wine. The building also boasts fridges full of their beers for off-sales, a number of growler fill options, merchandise and a room for private tasting events.
Beer recommendation: Red Ale
3. Steel Toad
This beautifully retrofitted big red factory shed is almost a little too fancy to be a craft brewpub. Located on 2nd Ave at Quebec Street (less than 10 minute walk from Big Rock), it has its beer tanks at one end (apparently connected directly to the bar), while the remainder of the place is made up of seated restaurant style areas, along with a few high tables and seats at the bar.
The staff are fun and energetic, they offer around eight quality Steel Toad beers with a select few guest taps, and most beers are served with the option of half pints, pints and flight tasters. They’ll recommend a size if a particular beer is super strong, and during Oktoberfest they had steins.
Steel Toad is also an eatery, and their food menu is well thought out (we were lucky to have their duck confit pizza when they were serving it). They also have TV screens above the bar and a drop down projector for big sporting events. The bar is also fully stocked to cater for those who aren’t lovers of beer.
Beer recommendation: Steel Toad offer two four-beer flight options in awesome little trays, try either (or both).
4. 33 Acres
Ten minutes’ walk up Quebec Street from Steel Toad (longer if you need to stop in at Earnest Ice Cream) on 8th Ave is 33 Acres Brewing, home of truly great beer, although you might feel like you’ve walked into an indoor picnic area.
It’s an unfortunately small tasting room with space for what I would say is room for about 33 people. After 5pm and on weekends you might even find yourself lining up outside. But despite its small size and layout, no sight of the brewery tanks and having only one washroom, 33 Acres do produce some of the region’s best beer.
This tasting room is also a place where you walk to the bar to order and collect your beer, and you seat yourself if and where you can. It’s not table service like the previous three breweries.
33 Acres pour their beers in 10oz glasses and 24oz jars, has growler fills on most of their beers, and a fridge full of six-packs for off-sales. You’ll find all the beer options and prices on the wall behind the bar.
The brewery has also more recently expanded into food, and while we’ve enjoyed their awesome jerky, having not eaten anything else, including their weekend brunch menu, it’s something we can’t comment on. You’ll also generally find a food truck outside.
Beer recommendation: 33 Acres of Ocean is our favourite, but we’ve never been disappointed with any of their beer.
This small, communal seating style tasting room for 50 usually has over 10 different beers on tap at any one time, and the brew-master is always experimenting and releasing new beers.
As there are so many options, most people go for flights. Order, pay and pick up at the bar, where you’ll also find a few bar snacks (think cured sausages and cheese breads). You’ll also find merchandise, growlers and fills in the small entryway to this impressive microbrewery.
Beer recommendation: With so many different styles on offer, get a flight (or two)
6. Main St Brewing
Housed in a big yellow 100-year-old retrofitted factory in the aptly named Brewery Creek, The Main Street Brewing Co’s brewery (not actually on Main St) is about five minutes walk back up Main from Brassneck Brewing.
Located on 7th Ave and Scotia St, Main St Brewing offer an impressive variety of beer styles from their regulars to small batches including one-off cask aged beers. Another small tasting room with space for about 40 people seated, they also have a small food menu to accompany their beer.
Main Street is another brewery where you order at the bar and seat yourself. While the brewing tanks are in full view off to the side of the bar, you use a second street level entrance for merchandise, growler fills and tours.
Beer recommendation: Main Street Session IPA, and any of their cask-aged beers.
You can’t really miss where it is, there’s an old water tank hoisted above the brewery with ‘Fresh Beer Here’ painted on it.
The relatively new Truck Stop provides a fun atmosphere with their beers on tap (usually around 6-8) and enjoyably good, somewhat-truck-stop inspired, food.
Red Truck’s layout is bigger than the last three tasting room breweries, allowing for more people, plus they have a small outdoor seating patio. You’ll also find a few TV screens above the bar with sport on, and a good view of the brewery from the bar.
Come here for a flight of beers, the historic trucks, the washroom sinks (downstairs) and their food. They also have some live music (again, in a seemingly too small space), growler fills and merchandise.
Like the other tasting rooms, you order, pay and pick up your beer at the bar, same with the food but it’s delivered to you.
Beer recommendation: A flight to sample then a sleeve of your favorite.
Allow a little over half-an-hour of fast-walking, or you could look at taking the Skytrain, buses or across False Creek via an Aquabus ferry.
Located in the old Yaletown factory area, Yaletown Brewing is split into two areas, a restaurant area and a beer lounge. Both spaces have patios, and the lounge area has TVs for sport, a pool table, a fireplace and view of the brewing tanks.
Yaletown’s rotating taps always provide something of quality. They’re beer menu is in constant transition of mostly small batches, but always offer a variety of light, hoppy, dark and alternative beers, and they have what we believe to be Vancouver’s best soft pretzel with an unbelievably delicious stout cheddar dip.
Having only frequented the beer lounge, their bar food menu is good, but can’t comment on their restaurant food menu.
Beer Recommendation: with so many rotating taps, its best to talk to the bar staff (in particular the tall bearded bloke) for a recommendation.
And that’s it! You’ve now explored Vancouver’s beautiful False Creek area with the added benefit of a walking Vancouver beer tour. To make it easier to visualise the 8km walk, this is roughly how it translates (thanks google maps):
Or check it out better at: http://bit.ly/walkingvancouverbeertour
Eight very different craft breweries spanning eight kilometres on foot and an endless supply of sites and beer varieties that change as fast as Vancouver’s weather.
Also be sure to check out our Top 5 Taphouses in Vancouver article.
We hope you enjoy, and let us know via twitter if you’ve done or are doing this, also tag #everydaynomads on Instagram with your Vancouver Beer Tour, exploring False Creek Breweries on foot.