It wasn’t long ago that it was hard to find local craft beer in Vancouver. These days, not only are liquor store shelves stocked with microbrews but more than a dozen breweries and brewpubs around town are offering tastings and tours.
For beer lovers, this presents a dilemma: so much to drink, so little time. With great local breweries scattered across the city, it’s hard to visit them all – especially if you plan to sample their offerings and leave your keys at home.
Fortunately, a whole new class of tour company has stepped in to help out the city’s suds fans: the chauffeured brewery tour. The premise is pretty simple.
A van, complete with highly trained beer guide, whisks groups from one craft brewery to the next. You stop. You sip. You savour. Local brewmasters show off their fermenting tanks and talk shop about hops and malts. You sip some more. Maybe you pick up a growler or a six pack or two for the road. And then you’re back in the van, weaving down Vancouver streets en route to the next stop (well, hopefully not weaving too much).
Beer fans have at least two options in Vancouver these days for chauffeured brewery tours. First, there’s the aptly named Vancouver Brewery Tours. For $69, their pros take you to three different craft breweries and brew pubs over the course of three hours. Destinations vary from trip to trip and include breweries Parallel 49, R&B, Storm, Deep Cove, 33 Acres and Granville Island and pubs Dockside and Steamworks. Plenty of samples are included at each stop.
You ride around in a 15-person van and get a free souvenir pint glass to commemorate your epic journey. Pick-up is at Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver, and – for obvious reasons – they recommend you eat a hearty meal before starting your mobile pub crawl. One big perk of booking with Vancouver Brewery Tours is entree to breweries, like R&B and Storm, that don’t usually offer public access.
Meanwhile, Wildside Vancouver’s Brew Tour offers a slightly more comprehensive (or, at least, longer) experience. For $79, you get escorted to four stops over the course of four hours, with samples all along the way. Options include breweries Powell Street, Parallel 49, Coal Harbour, Central City, Bridge and Red Truck and brew pub Pat’s Pub. Maybe owing to the longer duration, Wildside also offers “local snacks” on its van. Pick-up and drop-off is at downtown’s Canada Place.
Anyone taken a brewery tour in Vancouver? What did you think?
For more updates on beer touring and other activities in Vancouver and beyond, follow me on Twitter @RemyScalza.