Vancouver’s Beer-Tastic Heritage

Part of the old Vancouver Brewery complex is set to become a beer-making operation again in 2013. PHOTO CREDIT: John Lee

Part of the old Vancouver Brewery complex is set to become a beer-making operation again in 2013. PHOTO CREDIT: John Lee

The following article was contributed by Vancouver travel writer and Lonely Planet author John Lee (@johnleewriter)

Mainland Brewery, Red Star Brewery, San Francisco Brewery and, of course, Vancouver Brewery. The names of our long-gone city beer producers recall a time when there were dozens of tasty, independently-made options for ale-loving locals.

Several breweries once clustered along the Burrard Inlet shoreline – including at least one in Stanley Park – while there were even more across town around Brewery Creek. This gently sloping district – centered on what’s now known as Main Street in Mount Pleasant – had a trickling water supply that powered water wheels for area beer and soda producers.

While the creek has now disappeared underground, reminders of the neighbourhood’s beer-making golden age can still be found – including two former brewery buildings still standing just off Main Street at East 7th and East 6th.

Recent years have seen the return of Vancouver’s independent beer-making scene, with new craft brewers popping up like thirsty quaffers at happy hour. These include Powell Street Brewery, Coal Harbour Brewing and North Vancouver’s Bridge Brewing, adding to established small-scale makers like Storm Brewing and R&B Brewing.

But the long-overdue return to Vancouver’s halcyon ale-making days isn’t over yet.

In 2013, owners of the Cascade Room bar are planning to open a new brewery and restaurant in a handsomely refurbished former Vancouver Brewery building. And a block away, the team behind Gastown’s Alibi Room tavern will open their own Brassneck Brewery, focusing on take-out growlers and innovative beer recipes.

A short stroll north, the Olympic Village’s historic Salt Building will also spring back to boozy life with a giant new 140-tap craft beer pub.

All three are in or around the old Brewery Creek district, triggering a thirst-slaking comeback for one of Vancouver’s historic ale-making neighbourhoods –125 years after the first producer opened there.

For a glimpse of the city’s burp-triggering historic breweries – including evocative period photos of horse and cart deliveries and twinkling neon beer signs – check out this Vancouver Archives story. With any luck, things are about to get this tasty all over again.

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