Eighteen different Ale Trails connect breweries and beer-lovers across coastal communities, mountain towns, sprawling regions of fertile valleys and lakes, and the corridors of Northern British Columbia. This year, to celebrate BC Craft Beer Month, six breweries from BC’s Ale Trail—Prince Rupert’s Wheelhouse Brewing Company, Fernie Brewing Co., Fraser Valley’s Field House Brewing, Kamloops’ Red Collar Brewing Co., Vancouver’s Bomber Brewing, and Vancouver Island Brewing—have collaborated to create a one-of-a-kind ale inspired by the bounty of BC. Follow these BC Ale Trails to sample this special-edition Explore BC IPA and discover breweries in every corner of this vast province.
Canada’s first gastropub, Spinnakers, opened in Victoria in 1984. Over 35 years later, the craft brewery scene has boomed in BC’s capital city. Vancouver Island Brewing, one of Victoria’s pioneering breweries is still pouring pints today. As lead producer of the limited-edition Explore BC IPA, stop in for a taste of their original brews before tackling the rest of the Victoria Ale Trail. Tour the city by bike or take a stroll along the Upper Harbour’s Beer Mile for a one-mile stretch of six breweries and four brewpubs. For more coastal beer culture, follow two different Ale Trails along Vancouver Island, or head over to the Sunshine Coast for beer paired with charming seaside towns.
The Northern BC Ale Trail is an adventure all on its own. Wind through small towns and road trip corridors of a vast wilderness in search of beer. Begin your journey at Wheelhouse Brewing Company in Prince Rupert. Grab a pint while overlooking a misty harbour of dancing fishing boats from their newly-built patio. Tour the area on a guided canoe trip with Outer Coast Outfitters and dine on fresh fish at Fukasaku Sushi post-paddle. Continue the Ale Trail journey through Terrace, Smithers, Prince George, Valemount, and Quesnel for eight more breweries along this wilderness route.
Beer lovers can add more to the experience by pairing a breathtaking view with a good brew in BC. Mountain towns connect along the Kootenay Rockies East Ale Trail, where outdoor adventures follow up with après in cozy tasting rooms. Grab a seat at Fernie Brewing Co., situated at the base of the 2,700-metre (9,000-foot) Three Sisters mountains. This brewery is complete with bike and puppy parking so everyone in your crew can enjoy the view. Travel north, with stops at Over Time Beer Works in Kimberley and Fisher Peak Brewing in Cranbrook, for more vistas and brews before taking a mid-trip stop at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort for a soothing soak in the hot pools, open to guests who book an overnight stay. Journey on for the outdoor patio or indoor tasting room at Whitetooth Brewing Company in Golden to gaze at the Rocky Mountains and the ski runs of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. End your tour at Mt. Begbie Brewing in Revelstoke with a tasting room that overlooks this adrenaline-fuelled mountain town and the brewery’s namesake, Mt. Begbie. Keep wandering and tackle the Kootenay Rockies West Ale Trail if your palate is craving more hops.
The Fraser Valley has a long history of cultivating the most important beer ingredient. In the 1940’s and 1950’s, nearly 800 hectares (2,000 acres) of hops were being grown and harvested each year in this fertile area. Today, the valley remains the largest agricultural region in BC and attracts those in search of fresh produce paired with good beer. Begin the Fraser Valley Ale Trail tour at Abbotsford’s Field House Brewing. Cozy up to the wood-burning fireplace or head for the sprawling outdoor lawn for celebratory beers with friends after hiking or biking Sumas Mountain. Combine this experience with a Circle Farm Tour while exploring remaining breweries in this region, including five more stops on the “Langley Loop” and at Old Yale Brewing in Chilliwack.
Vancouver is a city built for biking. Naturally, a tour of the city on two wheels combined with brewery stops is a great way to pass an afternoon. Begin at Bomber Brewing, equipped with an outdoor patio, bike racks, and complimentary air for your tires. From there, choose your own route, with more than two-dozen craft breweries dotting the Vancouver Ale Trail. Along the way, look out for the artist murals that have brightened up concrete walls across the city. Continue your beer journey on Ale Trails that stretch from Sea to Sky, including Vancouver’s North Shore, Squamish, and Whistler.
This city in BC’s interior is an underrated outdoor adventure and brewery hotspot. Explore the bike trails in Kenna Cartwright and hiking trails in Peterson Creek before heading to Red Collar Brewing Co. situated along the Kamloops, Shuswap, Vernon & Merritt Ale Trail. Find eclectic shopping and the Noble Pig Brewhouse with a stroll along Victoria Street, head up town to Iron Road Brewing, or head over to Bright Eye Brewing on the North Shore. For those who prefer grapes, local wineries can be found along the Kamloops Wine Trail for a perfect pairing of hops and vines. Looking for another beer-fuelled city? Check out the Kelowna Ale Trail for more beer amid wine country.
Get trip ideas and inspiration by following along with #ExploreBC, #BCAleTrail, and #ExploreBCIPA.
Header image: Field House Brewing | BC Ale Trail
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