By Jessica Linnay
With the days of endless rain dwindling, we can finally put the Hunter boots aside and get out to enjoy one of the most scenic and exciting seasons in the city. What helps make springtime so delicious in Vancouver is feasting eyes on the beautiful blossoms of cherry trees scattered throughout the city, and being able to visit favourite venues offering up local delicacies without dripping or shivering along the way.
In East Vancouver, these venues have increasingly come to be comprised of craft breweries. Speckled throughout the streets east of Main, independent brewmasters have opened the doors to a number of tasting rooms that provide an exclusive EastVan microbrew experience and look at what –and who- is behind your favourite local lagers, ales, and stouts. Choose a sunny day to stroll through this unique area of town and get your fill of both blossoms and brews, and don’t forget to show us how much fun you’re having on your adventure by tagging #eastvanbrewcrawl in your posts.
Work up a thirst by heading west up William from Nanaimo just north of 1st Avenue – this quiet and colourful residential street is lined with robust cherry blossom trees that stretch from Garden Drive to Lakewood and again between Victoria and Commercial. Once you’re on the Drive, cutting through Grandview Park is a nice way to take in the essence of the area and its locals. Head up tree-lined Charles St. to Clark Drive for your first well-deserved brewery stop.
Strange Fellows Brewing Company
With a mandate to ‘celebrate the strange things in life’, the fellows behind this enterprise are not estranged from quality craft brews. Strange Fellows is run by a pair of buddies playfully dubbed Method and Madness, one of whom is an award-winning brewer with over 20 years of experience and the other, a third generation home brewer; their roster includes a light golden pale ale, a spicy-bodied wit, a fruity and dry bayard farmhouse saison, a hazy golden grisette, and a blackmail milk stout. They also offer fellowships for hardcore craft beer lovers.
Address: 1345 Clark Dr.
Hours: Mon-Thu 2-11pm / Fri-Sun 12-11pm
Cut up blossom-lined McLean Drive all the way to Adanac St. to find the next few breweries.
Off The Rail Brewing
Once upon a time a craft beer enthusiast and former owner of the legendary downtown Railway Club venue decided to hop to it and create his own brews, learning from the masters in craft scenes from Portland to Munich. Off The Rail now has 5 beers available for retail sales and even more available for enjoying in their East Van tasting room. Fill your tum or your growler with their Psycle Pale Lager, Hopinionated IPA, Czechmate Pilsner, or one of their seasonal brews.
Address: 1351 Adanac St.
Hours: Sun-Thu 12-8pm / Fri-Sat 12-10pm
Bomber touts itself as having a “truly Canadian” backstory: just three hockey- and beer-loving friends (one of them a Certified Cicerone and award-winning home brewer) acting on a dream to open a brewery together. On the benches of the Bomber Hockey Club they planned and plotted their enterprise and in early 2014, Bomber Brewing came to be. “Balanced and approachable” is their M.O. for both their branding and their beer. Try their international gold medal winning Pilsner, hoppy grapefruit Northwest IPA, or one of their delicious seasonal brews.
Address: 1488 Adanac St.
Hours: Daily 12-11pm
Head north on Commercial Drive into the East Village (formerly Hastings-Sunrise) neighbourhood.
Storm Brewing LTD
You may have heard of Storm Brewing last winter when media touted them as having “Canada’s most expensive beer”: their limited edition Glacial Mammoth Extinction 100% malt beverage brew was sold in handblown artisan gift bottles adorned with 14K gold and ivory pendants, for $1000 each. Storm Brewing was one of the first craft breweries to open on the east side of the city and has been producing since 1995. They don’t have a lounge but offer a look into the production side of their operations, as well as tasting samples and growler fills.
Address: 310 Commercial Dr.
Hours: Tues-Sat 10am-6pm / Sun 1-6pm / Mon closed
Callister Brewing Company
Launched last year as a “co-working brewery incubator”, Callister lends independent brewers access to commercial equipment and facilities to grow their business. Some of their co-brewers are big players in the craft beer world and offer Belgian table beers from Brewery Creek Brewing, and Real Cask Brewing’s traditional English cask ales served on cask engines; Callister also has their own brews, like the Short+Stout Irish Stout and Co-Pilot Pale Ale. Check out the rotating taps of delicious craft beers in their tasting room just north of Hastings.
Address: 1338 Franklin St.
Hours: Mon-Tues closed / Wed 2-8pm / Thu-Fri 2-9pm / Sat 1-9pm / Sun 1-6pm
Powell Street Craft Brewery
This award-winning microbrewery was opened in 2012 by a husband and wife team and within a year, took home the Canadian Brewing Awards’ “Beer of the Year” for their Old Jalopy Pale Ale. This win allowed for their expansion into a bigger space and wider range of beverages, but their focus on natural ingredients, high quality and full flavour remains. Try one of their brews like the 2013 BC Beer Awards CBC People’s Choice Award-winning Whiskey Barrel Aged Porter, or the Mosaic Sour Belgian Wheat that is part of their Kettle Sour series.
Address: 1357 Powell St.
Hours: Mon-Thu 2-9pm / Fri-Sat 12-10pm / Sun 12-8pm
Doan’s Craft Brewing Co.
The tasting room of this family-run brewery offers an intimate and casual café-type atmosphere, with a community table, vegan and vegetarian food fare, and the work of local artists adorning the walls. Their brewhouse and tanks were handcrafted in Portland and designed to help them fine tune their delicious batches of beer selections that include a dark and chocolatey Rye Stout, a light-bodied Kolsch, and an Altbier infused with German Noble hops.
Address: 1830 Powell St.
Hours: Mon-Thu 2-9pm / Fri 2-11pm / Sat 12-11pm / Sun 12-9pm
Parallel 49 Brewing Co
Parallel 49 was founded in part by three homebrewer friends native to the neighbourhood, and quickly became a favourite for local craft beer enthusiasts. Today, this brewery produces 35 craft beers that include seasonal brews. Visit their tasting room to sample what’s on tap, fill your growler, or buy bottles for takeaway. Check out their board for exciting specials and features like Gypsy Tears Ruby Ale, Jerkface 9000 Wheat Ale, or mango jalapeno IPA infusion.
Address: 1950 Triumph St.
Hours: Daily 11am-11pm
Skip a few blocks south of Parallel 49 to Pandora St. and head east towards Nanaimo, enjoying a spattering of blossoms along the way. End your tour by traveling towards your starting point, admiring the trees that adorn Nanaimo from Pandora to Venables; this stretch is a noted 2008 VCBF Festival Favourite.