Mike and I moved to the big, bad Vancouver (USA) in September last year. For one, it’s way less expensive to live here than Portland, Ore. and it’s actually just a bridge ride (205 bridge) away from where I used to live in Portland (What up Eastside?!) so it’s not that much of a change for us. For two, well, we have been visiting and exploring the Couve to explore beer, yes, but also we’ve been scoping out the plans for our new taphouse, Final Draft Taphouse, which many of you know will be opening soon! (Hell yeah!) Even though we’ve hit up many of them prior to moving here, there’s just something different now about being part of the community and dropping by the breweries and, of course, having the perspective still of working and having worked in Portland in craft beer for the last several years. I guess we love comparing and contrasting the brew scenes and supporting the locals wherever we are!
Here’s my run down of craft beer breweries and taphouses not to miss while discovering Vancouver USA!
Fortside Brewing – We have to say we are a little biased now as Mike works at Fortside Brewing now. However, even before that, we enjoyed visiting Fortside. The first time I had their beers was at the winter Vancouver Brewfest last year, and in fact, voted for them as the my number 1 and number 2 people’s choice winners. Their Couv’A’liclious Brown Ale and their Barrel-fied and Coco-fied Imperial Stouts are real treats. My most favorite of their beers is their Bitch Session ISA which was released post beer fest and now has become a regular beer of theirs. While I call it the Session for short, I love this beer and this is what you will find me sipping on there, while visiting Mike. 🙂
Heathen Brewing – One of the oldest breweries in Vancouver, Heathen Brewing has both their brewery and taproom in Vancouver. I’ve only been to their Feral House, and this place is very popular. With lots of space and kid-friendly, it’s generally always busy no matter the time of day you choose to go. They offer a large selection of their beer, a few guest taps, food specials throughout the week, with a wonderfully diverse food menu, and even hold various events to enjoy (e.g. Paint Nights) in their extra large space joining the bar. I’ve loved their Fresh Hop beers the most but I enjoy their Transcend IPA as a go to and the Mega Mint Stout was fantastic when they had it this past fall.
Ghostrunners Brewery – We visited Ghostrunners originally last year, and while I enjoyed the vibe and being right their in the brewery, I was left a bit here nor there with
their beers, at first. Since then, and since we moved up to the “Couve,” we have visited again and now go back time and time again for their fairly new imperial IPA the Pre-HOPtaine. This by far is one of my favorite beers in Vancouver right now, and I am excited to see what they continue to come out with. Not to mention, their staff is very welcoming and their theme is clever.
Lootwit Brewing – Loowit is located in the heart of Vancouver, near the convention center and the Hilton, and Esther Short Park, and one of the original breweries. It was established in 2012 with three beers on tap, one being Shadow Ninja IPA, which still remains my favorite of their beers. Loowit’s actual tap room is quaint, dimly-lit, and intimate but they have extra space in the back near the brewhouse with extra seating, vintage arcade games, darts, and it’s where they often host live music. When you go and order up a beer there, you will see mostly mug-club members aligning the bar, and a two door refrigeration case of their 22oz bottles to your left. Try one of their latest releases or their trusty Shadow Ninja, play a game of darts, and take some of their bottles. It will be worth it!
Trusty Brewing – This brewery is one of the newest in Vancouver and is in the old Dirty Hands Brewery space on Evergreen Blvd. This brewery has quickly become one of my favorites. Mostly because of the friendly bartenders and because of the Corner Window IPA. Recently they turned ONE and had a super fun bash. I was a lucky winner that night and won myself a “Mug Club” Membership. So stoked!
Old Ivy Taproom – Old Ivy, formerly known as Salmon Creek Brew Brewery, is downtown Vancouver. I’ve visited Old Ivy a few times now and have always had a great experience with the staff and company I’m with. I drink the Evergreen IPA faithfully, which is an American style IPA hopped up with herbal and citrus flavors. There are other Old Ivy beers and guests taps available as well as a small menu. While the atmosphere seems a bit miss-matched and the grandiose feel of the hard old woodwork isn’t my jam, this place is a classic, and a great place to meet up with friends for a pint!
Ben’s Bottle Shop – Now one-year old, Ben’s Bottle Shop is craft-beer taphouse, restaurant, bottle shop and sports bar. Located in the newly renovated Garrison Square on Mill Plain, Ben and Tim curate an ever-changing tap list and fill their inventory with local, regional and international beers. When you go, you will see people sharing bottles from the bottle shop often, people sipping craft beer, and groups occassionally cracking a bottle of wine together. Being it one of the only craft-beer dedicated taphouses east of downtown, Ben’s is busy and certainly has a following.
Railside Brewing – Now the only brewery in Hazel Dell, Railside has a small taproom, a small patio and is tucked just south off of Hazel Dell Avenue and 76th Street.
A railroad-themed brewery, each of the beers will be named after a common railroad term. If you don’t know the terms, well, no big deal but you can look them up on their website. More importantly, though, you can sample beers there and try them out and get some grub for a conductor-sized appetite. When we’ve visited, we’ve add great experiences. Once meeting up with a #beerfriend from online, CraftRunner, and the other because of the kindness of the owner. The conversation has been welcoming and we’ve enjoyed visiting their place. The Railside Pale Ale seems to be the favorite, along with the Hopper Car IPA, and the Last Car Double red IPA, which is sweet, rich and caramel, dessert-pie-like cherry flavor. When you order a beer there, you will get a frosty glass.
Trap Door Brewing – Situated in Uptown on the west side of
Main Street, Trap Door Brewing was one of the first Mike and I visited while exploring Vancouver in January 2015. We sat down at the bar and the bartender asked us where we were from. We chimed, “Portland.” And Brian replied, “No one comes here from Portland.” And I remember us feeling deflated.
Well, we were there and we love exploring “over the river,” and we believe lots more people are doing it now, just a year from that first encounter. I had their Holidank IPA, their winter IPA, and was hooked. I tried to get it this year and missed it. Yes, it goes fast!
Of late, they released their Glowed Up IPA, a hazy, NE style IPA, dry hopped w/ Amarillo, Citra and Mosaic hops delivering a super juicy, refreshingly smooth IPA, which is trumping all other beers on their list. It goes fast though. Oh, but I hear there is a new one coming out from them called the Hazed IPA, a double-IPA version of the Glowed Up.
Thristy Sasquatch Taphouse – Just a few blocks from Trap Door Brewing, Thirsty Sasquatch Taphouse has a cozy atmosphere, a wonderfully curated tap list, and a great staff. While their focus is their craft-beer tap list, they have wine, cider and spirits. You can watch the game there, play trivia certain nights, hear live music now and again, and even chill on their back patio if the weather is nice.
Doomsday Brewing – Their original pub and brewery is located in Washougal, WA, but now Doomsday has a taphouse, err…safe house, in Uptown Vancouver as well. The interior will remind you of a bunker and get you into the preparing-for-the-end mode, with ….. Their Agent Orange IPA made with Simcoe hops is my favorite of theirs, and the fresh-hop version of it is mighty tasty. If you go, you can also order up some yummy, fat-full grilled cheeses sandwiches from their permanent food truck out back, Main Street Melts.
Victor 23 Brewing – This new brewery is themed after the infamous D.B. Cooper hijacking a Boeing, extorting moola, and parachuting to an uncertain fate, on the Victor 23 airway route, where Victor 23 is located. Victor 23 came about from owner, Bryan Ward’s love of craft beer, aviation, and home brewing. With a former Alameda brewer at brewing helm, Victor 23 has a solid list of beers and pub-like food to keep you drinking. Try the…Skyjacker IPA and their latest release!
Hopworks Brewing – The last addition to the Vancouver brew scene in 2016 was Hopworks. This Portland-brewery setting up show here in Vancouver was much-anticipated and a very welcomed addition to the far east side of Vancouver. A beautifully designed building, a major craft-beer employer in the Couve, and a 24-craft-beer line-up, Hopworks was packed day-one and I can only assume it remains that way. While the brewer wasn’t brewing on their system yet when they opened, they did open with a Vancouver IPA especially made for their debut. Beyond that, they have their single-hop IPA on and lots of other favorites to appeal to all beer drinkers. Grab a bite while you are there so you can have a few, their good is pub-fair, and their service staff is experienced and friendly. Bring the kids too, if you have them! Hopworks is kiddo-friendly and has a huge space!
As you can see, there’s plenty to explore in Vancouver, Wa. Cross the river, come and visit, stay awhile, and experience Brewcouver or Vanvanna, or the BrewCouve or the North Bank, or whatever you want to call us here in Vancouver. Just don’t call us no-longer in the craft-beer game, because Vancouver USA is budding, and blossoming, and the breweries and taphouses are hopping!
Others in Vancouver USA that are either opening soon or I haven’t been to yet at the time of this blog post include: Mt. Tabor Brewing’s new Felida location, Brothers Cascadia Brewing, Beerded Brothers Brewing, Heavy Metal Brewing, Tap Union Freehouse, and Flyboy Brewing. Oh, and let’s not forget….Final Draft Taphouse! 😉
Cheers! Oh, and what are you loving in Vancouver? What beers are you enjoying?