The Best of Beer: Vancouver’s Top 5 Local Microbrews

As loyal beer drinkers know, this weekend the largest beer festival of the year is in town.   Boasting more than 200 different brews from 30 vendors, Nando’s Canada Cup of Beer kicks off today at 4 p.m. at Matthews Field, next to Thunderbird Stadium at UBC.  Festivities continue tomorrow from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.  For info on tickets, check out their website.

In honor of the festival, I’ve brought in a special guest to provide some expert insight into the top microbrews made in and around Vancouver.  John Lee is the author of Drinking Vancouver, a comprehensive guide to more than 100 watering holes in the city, with detailed descriptions of beers, bar food and atmosphere.  Apart from his credentials as a writer for Lonely Planet guidebooks, John is also an enthusiastic drinker who has traveled the world in search of the perfect pint. His Top 5 list is the result of years’ worth of hard research and many late nights in Vancouver’s pubs and clubs, I’m sure.

Just a note for the true beer fanatics out there:  This list does not include beers made at brew pubs.  Nor are all of the selections strictly from Vancouver – Some are from the Fraser Valley and further afield.  And finally, as sophisticated a tippler as John may be, beer is an inherently subjective topic.  If you’ve got a favorite microbrew, please let us know by leaving a comment below. Thirsty Vancouverites everywhere will be very grateful.

John Lee of Drinking Vancouver’s Top 5 Local Microbrews (with tasting notes)

1) Central City Brewing’s Red Racer ESB: Mildly hoppy and malty, this copper-coloured brew slides down extremely easily. Perhaps a little too easily.

2) Tree Brewing’s Hop Head: Does exactly what a great IPA should – makes your eyes pop from their sockets in hoppy delight.

3) Old Yale Brewing’s Old Yale Pale Ale: All the way from Chilliwack, this smooth, perfectly rounded brew makes smiling and drinking a surprisingly easy exercise.

4) Gulf Islands Brewing’s Heatherdale Ale: Great beer doesn’t have to pack a punch. This aromatic, heather-infused brew from Salt Spring is subtle, complex and seductive.


5) Crannóg Ales’ Back Hand of God Stout: When winter finally comes back – or maybe just on a rainy summer day – the rich, java-esque aroma of this velvet brew is all the fortification you need.

Thanks to John for helping out with this post.  His book Drinking Vancouver is an invaluable resource for beer, wine and cocktail drinkers alike and can be found at and other outlets.   And if you think he missed the mark, or just have your own favorites to add, please leave a comment below.

Remy Scalza

Tagged: , , , , , ,

Comments are closed for this post

13 Responses to The Best of Beer: Vancouver’s Top 5 Local Microbrews

  1. Pingback: Drinking in the Pacific Northwest: Vancouver’s top microbrews | Independent Journalism