Community on Tap

B.C.’s craft brewing industry is hopping. Whether they specialize in Hefeweizen or hazy IPAs, more than 117 breweries call the province home, with five of the newest listed here.

By Gail Johnson

In smaller cities, brewpubs are often much more than a place to find a good beer; they’re also gathering places that help build community. They can also be a magnet, attracting visitors or potential residents who might otherwise keep on driving through town. Here are a few gems that offer terrific made-in-B.C. beer as well as satisfying fare to go with a flight, pint or growler.

Elevation 57 Brewing Company. Photo courtesy BC Craft Brewers Guild

Canada’s highest brewery, at 5,757 feet above sea level, sources pure mountain water from Rhonda Lake for brewmaster Brendan Amond’s creations. They range from Milk Stout and Smoked Porter to Booster Blonde Ale and Huck It Hefeweizen. The brewery is adjacent to Sessions Taphouse & Grill, which has a ski-in/ski-out deck just off the Perfection run at Big White. Look for fare like flatbreads, veggie “wings,” deep-fried pickles, loaded fries and a handful of salads.

Slackwater Brewing. Photo Jason Brinkman

Penticton’s newest craft brewery spans two levels with two bars, two patios, board games and an open-plan design spotlighting its brewing system. From unique twists on classic pub ales to traditional European lagers, farmhouse ales and contemporary styles, Slackwater aims to make something for everyone. It picked up People’s Choice awards for Best Beer at the 2019 Okanagan Fest of Ale and Best Brewery at the Great Okanagan Beer Festival 2019. Highlighting Okanagan ingredients, chef Ben Overland’s tap-room menu features items llike a Nashville chicken sandwich, ale-braised bratwurst wheel and prosciutto-wrapped asparagus with truffle oil.

Photo courtesy Land and Sea Brewing

Community focused and family friendly, Land & Sea Brewing has a 72-seat lounge and rotating taps of approachable beers that speak of the Comox Valley. This past summer, for instance, visitors sipped on brews crafted with locally harvested sumac, elderflower and grand fir tips. Then there are staples like the easy-drinking Glacier Cream Ale and Blacktail Kolsch (a dark, lagered ale). To eat and share plates or standalone meals ranging from tuna Cobb salad to Mexican street-corn nachos.

Jackson’s Social Club and Brewhouse. Photo Alaistair Jerrom-Smith

The only craft brewery between Quesnel to Kamloops, this spot on Highway 97 offers six ever-changing beers on tap, from a seasonal Blueberry Thrill Witbier to a Pilsner-style Bud Wiesenhimer. Food options include locally sourced beef burgers and bratwurst; freshly baked bread, buns and pretzels come from Lac Le Hache Bakery. The kitchen crew gets as many ingredients as possible from the South Cariboo Farmers Market, where Jackson’s also sells its latest brews.

From Rosenheim Hefeweizen to Imperial Chocolate Stout, these beers go down just as nicely after a summer bike ride as they do apr├Ęs-ski. Founder Susi Foerg wants the brewery to be a “friends and family” spot with the feel of a lakeside cabin. The Sunday breakfast menu includes items like the Reel Fresh Flight (variations of avocado and spent-grain toast) and barley waffles. Foerg’s German heritage shows up in dishes like the cheese spaetzle skillet and sausage flight. For kids, there’s a char-cute-erie plate, with cheese, salami, crackers, apple slices and more.