Check out some of Vancouver's best beer bars for the ultimate brews
Credit: iStock

Check out some of Vancouver's best beer bars for the ultimate brews

Vancouver is in the middle of a craft beer explosion, with around 28 breweries in North Van and Vancouver alone, most of which have tasting rooms where you can sample their brews and take home your favourites.

Although it’s fun to try a range of brews from one brewery, it’s even more fun to try craft beers from B.C. and beyond in some of the city’s best craft beer bars.

We’ve compiled a list of our favourite places which excel in offering a wide range of craft beers and, most importantly, have staff who can guide you through the vast offerings.

Lamplighter
Credit: Lamplighter

Lamplighter

In the heart of Gastown, the Lamplighter is B.C. craft beer heaven with a whopping 50 taps focussing mainly on local brews, but also with beers from American craft breweries and a handful of international beers too. Around a third of the taps rotate frequently to pour limited and seasonal style releases. The Lamplighter makes for a good spot for sociable drinkers as it’s home to the Gastown Beer Society, which features a different brewery each Wednesday evening with samplings and product discussion.

92 Water Street, Vancouver

Alibi Room
Credit: Alibi Room

Alibi Room

The birthplace of Vancouver’s craft beer revival, the surprisingly large Alibi Room offers a constantly rotating list of 20 lagers, six stouts and 27 session ales. A family-run bar with great views across the mountains and railway tracks, the Alibi is traditionally the first stop for beer geeks on a craft brew pilgrimage around the city. Of course, thanks to the friendly service, delicious small plates menu and all-round fantastic atmosphere, there’s always a chance that it’s the only stop people make too.

157 Alexander Street, Vancouver

Darby’s

Darby’s

Kitsilano’s finest has a glorious rooftop patio, perfect for whiling away the summer and sipping your way steadily through their 30 on-tap beers, which have a local and Cascadian-focus, and seeing what’s fresh with their cask programme too (check their Twitter and Facebook to see what’s being tapped). Not sure of what you want to order? Sample a few try-before-you-buy 1 oz pours and put together a beer flight to find your new favourite. The kitchen team is beginning to focus on incorporating different facets of beer into their food programme: think hops and malt extracts, so you can have a ‘holistic’ beer-based food and drink experience.

2001 Macdonald Street, Vancouver

Tap and Barrel

Tap and Barrel

Boasting probably one of the best patios in the city with show-stopping views across the sea and mountains, Tap & Barrel at the Convention Centre also has an impressive selection of all-BC brews. Their policy is to support local all the way, so you’ll find 36 beers from the province (most just from around the corner), along with custom collaborations with local brewmasters to create exclusive brews, including the popular Howe Sound/T&B You’re My Boy Blue, and a custom collaboration with Postmark coming soon. Every Tuesday at 5 p.m. a brand new cask is tapped that’s been specially made for T&B – this usually sells out pretty fast as it’s a must-drink for beer geeks.

1 Athletes Way, Vancouver

St Augustine’s

St Augustine’s

With more than 60 taps pouring everything from amber ales, IPAs, wheat beers, lambics and sours, St Augustine’s has one of the city’s finest selection of brews. And, if you want to check what’s on tap before you visit, you can check their live beer-o-meter online which magically monitors all that they are pouring, has handy crib-sheet tasting notes so you can say smart stuff like, "Hmm, the Canadian malt really brings out a resinous, piney note in this IPA," and, more importantly, what percentage is left. You can get really specific and pick by category to plan your night and the order in which you’ll be drinking. "What?! Parallel 49’s Old Boy Classic is down to just two per cent?!" Better start there...

2360 Commercial Drive, Vancouver

Biercraft
Credit: Biercraft

Biercraft

Biercraft focuses on Belgian and Belgian-style beers with their taps split evenly between Belgian and North American craft beers, with three or four lines dedicated to their sister company, Bomber Brewing. Want to know more about beer? Then Biercraft is the place to go. All of the servers are Certified Cicerone Beer Servers (a Cicerone is like a sommelier for beer), and all their draft beers are poured according to the Belgian 9-Step Pouring Procedure – an intricate process which ensures every glass is the best possible glass of beer that you could drink. They are also the only place in the city to serve the lees on the side. GM David Daw explains why: “Many Belgian beers are bottled conditioned and unfiltered. In these beers, there is a little sediment in the bottom – perfectly good to drink, but it will alter the flavour of the beer. This gives our guests an opportunity to experiment with beer flavours and find their preference.”

3305 Cambie Street; 1191 Commercial Drive; and 3340 Shrum Lane, Wesbrook at UBC, Vancouver

Portland Craft

Portland Craft

Fans of West Coast USA brews no longer have to cross the border to taste the best of what they have on offer. Portland Craft on Main Street offers 16 constantly rotating draft lines of beers that are all from California, Oregon and California, plus one local B.C. brew. They just celebrated their third anniversary and it’s well worth making room to try their locally sourced, farm fresh and organic delights from the kitchen too, like the nod to Portlandia’s Put A Bird On It chicken and waffles, 'cause who doesn’t like delicious and funny?

3835 Main Street, Vancouver

Wildebeest
Credit: Wildebeest

Wildebeest

Wildebeest may not have the widest selection of craft beers in the city, but it’s absolutely one of the very best places to eat in town which offers a rotating programme of craft brews in their taps. The focus is B.C. and beyond, so amongst the six on offer, you could find craft beers from Portland, Vancouver and Quebec to sample alongside the award-winning cuisine from chef Wesley Young and team. Our tip? Nothing is better with a cold beer than their smoked Castelvetrano olives unless it’s the hand-cut lamb tartare... or the bison carpaccio... or pretty much anything on the menu at all.

120 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

Blackbird Public House
Credit: Blackbird

Blackbird Public House

With two floors of food, drink, bar games and entertainment, there’s plenty to do at the Blackbird, not least sample their 48 beers on tap which have a mainly B.C. focus but a good showing of French and Belgian brews too. Of course, nothing goes better with a beer than a whisky chaser and Blackbird has some 120 to choose from. Live music and DJs are on the menu from Thursday to Saturday along with plenty of daily specials, deals and happy hour treats.

905 Dunsmuir Street, Vancouver

Bitter Tasting Room

Bitter Tasting Room

Bitter Tasting Room has very recently been taken over by Darby’s, who plan to bring in reclaimed wood long-table seating and switch the food programme focus to flatbreads, gourmet sandwiches and charcuterie boards which you can pair with the beers. Most excitingly they’ll be increasing the 13 beers on tap to 28, plus two casks with a mainly local focus and a few guest Washington or Oregon craft beers for good measure. For those who like to sip in the sunshine, the good news is that they will be bringing back Bitter’s much-loved and much-missed patio.

16 West Hastings Street, Vancouver