This week’s Canada’s Craft Beer post comes from our BC craft beer guy, Bryan Clegg. Today Bryan takes us on a "Yeast Van" brewery crawl, with stops at seven East Vancouver craft breweries and more on a four kilometre walk.
British Columbia: home of epic mountain vistas, vast temperate rainforest, beautiful shorelines, unpredictable drivers, people who pretend to do yoga, like, all the time. But most importantly, some of the best craft beer in the country!
BC has been a focal point of Canada’s craft beer revolution, with the Fraser Valley leading the way, having rocketed past 60 breweries with more opening all the time! It truly is a golden age of craft beer. One of the side benefits to this explosive growth is the development of craft beer neighbourhoods.
Today, we’re headed to a neighbourhood in East Vancouver nicknamed Yeast Van, for Bryan’s Epic Yeast Van Brewery Crawl™ (trademark pending).
Originally, only Storm Brewing called Yeast Van home, but now this little area of East Vancouver that stretches about two kilometres E/W and 1.2 kilometres N/S houses over a dozen craft breweries. That tight proximity makes it an exceptional brewery crawl destination. And lucky for you, dear readers, I’ve done the hard work of coming up with a great tour route! In less than four kilometres of walking, we’re going to hit up seven breweries, a gelateria, and a great tavern/geek hangout.
So what are we waiting for? Take a good look at my helpful Google Map route of the area and let’s hit the pavement!
First Things First: Meeting Place & Food!
Tour Guide Bryan says under no circumstances should you start a brewery crawl on an empty stomach. Fortunately, Yeast Van lies in close proximity to Vancouver’s famous Commercial Drive and its dozens of top quality restaurants.
Storm Crow Tavern
We’re going to commit a full afternoon and evening to this, so I recommend meeting your brewery crawl crew for lunch on the Drive. There are so many options, it’s hard to go wrong. But I’d like to humbly submit one of my favourite places in the city: Storm Crow Tavern. If, like me, you’re into fantasy/sci-fi, Storm Crow is a nerdy heaven. With dozens of board games, walls covered in sci-fi memorabilia, and themed food and drinks, Storm Crow offers the perfect atmosphere to get your crew in the mood for a good time.
- Check out the Teenage Mutant Deep Fried Pickles while you’re there!
Beer Stop #1: Strange Fellows Brewing (Distance: 650m)
Our first stop of the day is Strange Fellows, a short eight-minute walk from Storm Crow. Strange Fellows has some of my favourite branding in the business, with great old world inspired artwork on their bottles and merch.
They make many excellent farmhouse beers, with at least a few different funky choices available at any given time.
- Be sure to check out the Charles Clark Gallery while you’re there.
Beer Stop #2 : Luppolo Brewing (Distance: 700m)
Nine minutes from Strange Fellows is our second stop of the day, Luppolo Brewing.
This Italian-themed brewery blew us away on our last beer crawl with a solid selection of high quality beers. Of course, my favourites were of the farmhouse variety, with New World Sour and their Saison leading the way.
Alternative Lunch: Luppolo boasts a great food menu, making it a possible alternative start point.
Intermission: La Casa Gelato (Distance: 73m)
We’ve already eaten the main course — now it’s time for dessert! La Casa Gelato is conveniently located just a one-minute walk from Luppolo, making it the perfect intermission. This gelato shop has been around since 1982, and boasts a ridiculous lineup of 238 flavours at a time! Spend some time sampling before you decide, and you’re guaranteed to walk away with something you love.
Beer Stop #3: Bomber Brewing (Distance: 620m)
With our bellies filled with delicious gelato, now we’re going to work it off with an eight-minute walk (that should be enough calories burned, right?) to Bomber Brewing. This popular bike route brewery boasts a solid selection of beer.
- Park Life Passionfruit Ale is a great thirst quencher.
Beer Stop #4: Off The Rail Brewing (Distance: 110m)
Only a minute away from Bomber is our next stop, Off The Rail Brewing. Though the brewery is young, the story behind it has history. The owner/brewer, Steve, and his family owned The Railway Club, and when it was sold in 2008, Steve started an organic hops farm in Mission where he started brewing on the side. Fast forward to now and we have Off The Rail Brewing, specializing in English Ales, German Lagers, and US IPAs.
- Check out the Classic Pale Ale, a three-time award winner at the Canadian Brewing Awards.
Beer Stop #5: Callister Brewing (Distance: 650m)
A mere nine minutes after leaving Off The Rail we reach Callister Brewing, one of my favourite brewery concepts. Callister is a co-working, collaborative brewery. Every year, Callister provides three one-year contract spaces to startup breweries. It’s a wonderful way to help new brewers get off the ground who otherwise wouldn’t have the space/funds to do so. Two very notable alumni of this program are Boombox and Superflux.
- This also makes Callister a pretty great place to do a flight, with options available from up to four different brewers.
At the time of writing, Night Owl, Morningstar, and Real Cask are just finishing their contracts, with Good Buddy and Sundown moving in.
Beer Stop #6: Storm Brewing (Distance: 470m)
No visit to Yeast Van is complete without visiting Vancouver’s beloved Storm Brewing. Prepare for a journey into something different. This isn’t a fancy taproom like the others. Beyond the heavy sliding door there are hoses on the ground, barrels and equipment all over the place, Storm is anything but fancy. Shiny new equipment? Nah. They have a kettle that was used for soup, and a mash tun used for yogurt, both taken from a scrapyard in the 90’s.
But don’t let any of that fool you, because Storm makes some of the best beer in the province. The country, even. Owner and Brewmaster James Walton is known as the mad scientist thanks to his incredible ability to pull off the strangest, most creative concoctions imaginable. Orange Chocolate Stout? Check. Cucumber Dill Pilsner? Check. Turkish Coffee Stout? Check. If you can think of it, put it in the Brainstorm suggestion box and James will likely give it a go.
- Pro Tip: Try the Vanilla Whiskey Stout, one of my all-time fav stouts! And keep an eye on their Twitter account to see which Brainstorms are going to be on tap each weekend.
Beer Stop #7: Parallel 49 Brewing (Distance: 600m)
The final stop for the night is none other than Parallel 49 Brewing. P49 has had a rocket-like ascendance from start-up in 2012 to one of the biggest craft producers in the province now. P49’s quality and variety of beer has established them as one of the top beer destinations in the city.
Best of all, P49 renovated their modest taproom in 2017 into a large, lively space. With 40 taps and the Street Kitchen (a food truck parked inside!), it’s a perfect bookend location for a beer crawl. Grab a flight, grab some food, and enjoy.
Ending the Tour Safely
By now I expect the crew to be nearing the end of their beer tolerance. So this is a great place to stop (but if not, I’ll list some more options below).
Remember to BE SAFE. No drinking and driving! It’s a short walk to the corner of Commercial and Hastings. Take the 020/N20 down to Commercial Broadway Station to catch the Expo Line home. Or take any of the various buses that run on Hastings back downtown, or elsewhere in the city.
The transit here is pretty great. Trust it to take you home and don’t risk driving!
As much as I think my specially designed tour is pretty awesome, there’s plenty of room for modification. I’ll list some other possibilities below.
An Alternative Yeast Van Crawl Start
If you want to do the tour in reverse, grab a bite and flight at P49 to start the tour and work your way back to Storm Crow to end the night. The bonus here is that Storm Crow has a massive selection of board games, so you can play some games to close out the night with your crew.
Additional Brewery Stops
To make the route as efficient as possible I cut out some possible stops; feel free to modify the list based on your tastes!
- Powell Street — Old Jalopy has won a boatload of awards, give it a taste!
- Andina Brewing — South American style for something different.
- Odd Society Distillery — Not a brewery, but a distillery! Check out their Creme de Cassis; it’s delicious.
- Doan’s Craft Brewing — A small brewery that uses a lot of rye malts in their tasty beers.
- Strathcona Brewing — Great space, great food, and Superflux also brews here, but it's kind of out of the way for a walking tour though. It's easier to get to if you do a bike tour.
- Postmark Brewing — Basically same deal as Strathcona, it's too far to incorporate into a walking tour. Great food from Belgard Kitchen!
Be sure to drop me a line in the comments or on Twitter to let me know how your tour went!
Bryan Clegg is the beer columnist for VanFoodies.com. Bryan has a wide and accommodating palate; whether it’s a tasty low-IBU ale or a ride on the IBU train to Hop Country, he’s happy to drink and share a story about the ride. Follow @vanfoodies on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.