In the round: Vancouver’s craft beer community

Category: Beer Humor
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The Pacific citys eastern district is home to a growing concentration of craft brewers and is set to become a major draw for UK travellers with low cost flights about to launch

Now this is how to do Saturday mornings. My first tipple is a Pineapple Paradise pilsner, closely followed by a large swig of Black Plague stout, with a generous chaser of gingerbread ale to finish.

Im sampling the nectar of Storm Brewing a dank, dingy but creative independent brewery in Vancouvers grey industrial zone of East Van. Established in 1994, it was the first to champion small-batch brewing in this warehouse-packed part of town.

Its no longer alone. This formerly working class area has become a hub of craft breweries so much so that Yeast Van is now a weekend hangout for the citys most eager beer drinkers, who can sample beers from about 10% of British Columbias 135-strong craft brewery population in a matter of minutes.

Storm Brewing was the craft beer pioneer of East Van. Photograph: Hannah Summers

Attracting visitors hasnt always been easy, but a few years back a liquor bylaw was overturned, meaning tasting rooms at Vancouvers craft breweries which had been limited to serving one 12-ounce glass (just over half a UK pint) per customer per night were allowed to serve beer in larger quantities. The timing coincided with a general movement against the large brewing conglomerates that dominate the Canadian market.

Grabbing a growler to go (a large glass bottle filled with my choice of ale), I wander down the road to Doans, one of East Vans latest openings. Set up by two brothers who used to make homebrew as a hobby, its a compact, modern tasting room with a metal-clad brewery out the back.

For co-owner Evan Doan, the sense of community makes this area a great incubator for craft beer start-ups: There are tons of mom-and-pop businesses and people supporting locals around here. Existing brewers also enthusiastically back new openings, including this summers debut of Andina, a brewery founded by two Colombian brothers wholl be blending Latin American and Canadian flavours. I cant wait to see what they bring to Yeast Van, Doan says.

Callister Brewing Company

There will be more brew-club communities coming together and opening co-operative breweries like Callister, says David Perry, president of the Vancouver branch of the Campaign for Real Ale. Its the most efficient way to get breweries off the ground. He, too, is excited by the support network between breweries. Brewers will lend ingredients and are looking at ways to share space and facilities.

Callister, which opened at the end of 2015, claims to be Canadas first collaborative brewery, and calls East Van its home. It now offers peer-led support and equipment to four brewers that may otherwise have struggled with the tricky logistics of setting up. Swing by its tasting room and you can try Burnley Bastard Mild brewed by Real Cask, or Nonsensical an IPA from Brewery Creek.

And with the start of low-cost direct flights from Gatwick to Vancouver with WestJet this May, more UK travellers will be able to join the party.

WestJet will fly Gatwick-Vancouver from about 450 return, starting 6 May

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