Recently we stopped in at Bridge Brewing in North Vancouver, BC, for what I thought would be a short visit, just long enough to taste through a flight of four samplers and fill a growler to take away with me, but when we saw — and smelled — the tray of tacos being devoured at a neighboring table, we knew we wouldn’t be leaving before ordering some. And we were not disappointed.
In the past five years, 100 new craft breweries have opened in British Columbia, swelling the provincial total to 150 and counting. One of the things we love most about the new wave of breweries here is the fact that many of them feature fresh food prepared on-site and to order, whether it’s tacos, pizzas, sandwiches, charcuterie, or something else that’s tasty.
Food has been a big part of the craft beer revolution in BC by way of the province’s many brewpubs going back to 1984 when Spinnakers opened in Victoria, becoming Canada’s first brewpub. By the early ‘90s, Spinnakers had become a pioneer of the local food movement, and it continues to work exclusively with local farmers and seafood harvesters today to source ingredients for its progressive kitchen.
Victoria long led the scene with a bevy of excellent brewpubs that joined Spinnakers, including Swans (est. 1989), Canoe (est. 1996), and the Moon Under Water (est. 2011). Now since 2013, when the government announced that production breweries could open their own on-site tasting rooms, craft beer culture has flourished all over British Columbia. Breweries have expanded into more and more remote regions throughout the province — and many of these newer operations feature food prominently.
Like our delicious discovery at Bridge Brewing, there are many great food and beer pairings to be found on the BC Ale Trail. Check out this list highlighting some suggestions to help plan your next beer and food adventure in British Columbia.
In addition to a food truck that parks out front for lunch and dinner daily, 33 Acres’s kitchen offers a wide range of dishes, including cheese boards, charcuterie, salads, and pierogies. There is even brunch on the weekend.
33 Acres Brewing can be found on the Vancouver Ale Trail.
Named rookie brewery of the year at the 2017 BC Beer Awards, Backcountry has a welcoming tasting room that’s dominated by a large communal table where locals and visitors rub shoulders and swap stories about their favorite local outdoor activities. Although pizza is a big deal here too, the kitchen makes a lot more, including sandwiches, salads, and mains like seared albacore tuna, beer-brined fried chicken, and spaghetti carbonara.
Backcountry Brewing can be found on the Squamish Ale Trail.
If you agree that beer and pizza are the perfect combination, then Bad Tattoo has you covered. Its gourmet pizzas feature creative explosions of unique flavor combinations. Seriously, there’s a whole section on their pizza menu called “Weird” that includes a Mexican fish taco pizza and another one called Black and Blue with locally made blue cheese, blackberry compote, roasted apples, and toasted malt. And the beer’s really good, too.
Bad Tattoo Brewing can be found on the Penticton Ale Trail.
A popular North Shore operation since it opened as a nanobrewery in 2012, Bridge moved into its current bigger location a couple years ago and added a kitchen that makes veggie, chicken, and pork tacos that are to die for.
Bridge Brewing can be found on Vancouver’s North Shore Ale Trail.
Widely considered one of BC’s best breweries (it was named Canadian brewery of the year in 2015, just two years after opening), Four Winds’s tasting room is always busy with beer seekers and food lovers thanks to a kitchen that serves Mexican street-style food for lunch (11 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.) followed by tapas from 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily.
Four Winds Brewing can be found on the New West, Delta & Surrey Ale Trail.
Persephone’s nickname is the “Beer Farm” because it is based on a farm where they grow their own hops and cider apples, along with garden vegetables, many of which are used by the Farm to Feast food truck (a converted Airstream trailer) parked on-site. Open six days a week, Farm to Feast serves an always-changing menu of pizza, tacos, breads, sandwiches, and much more.
Persephone Brewing can be found on the Sunshine Coast Ale Trail.
This little brewery in Port Alberni is one of BC’s hidden gems. The excellent beer lineup pushes boundaries, and the kitchen is similarly innovative. Once again, the main focus is on pizza with creative names and equally creative ingredients, including the Beetnik (walnut-beet pesto, goat cheese, and arugula) and Wurst Place to Live, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that Port Alberni was once named Canada’s worst place to live, featuring beer-poached brat, caramelized onion, and beer cheddar drizzle.
Twin City Brewing can be found on the new Vancouver Island Ale Trail, which will be launched this summer.