British Columbia has long been internationally admired for its wines, but now its craft beers and spirits are also holding their own on the world stage. Here, some of the newest and brightest
Surrey craft-beer powerhouse Central City ( 11411 Bridgeview Dr., 604-588-2337. Centralcitybrewing. com) launched its spirits line in 2014. Whisky and rum are still to come; for now, there’s this singlemalt gin distilled from B.C. barley and traditional botanicals, dominated by resiny juniper and citrus. Perfect as part of a gin and tonic.
Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers Oliver Rosemary and Olive Gin Day trip to the North Shore’s Deep Cove—hike on one of the peaceful trails or kayak for a couple of hours before indulging in a tour and tasting at this microbrewer and distiller ( 170–2270 Dollartron Hwy. Deep-covecraft.com). Oliver, flavoured with rosemary and olive, makes a topnotch martini.
The Liberty Distillery Endeavour Pink Gin What could be more deliciously retro than pink gin? Plymouth gin made pink with a dash of Angostura bitters was a staple of the Royal Navy and a favourite of James Bond. Reimagined at this Granville Island distillery ( 1494 Old Bridge St., 604-558-1998. Thelibertydistillery.com), the pink comes from rosehips. A fullstrength endeavour at 47 percent- Long Table Distillery London Dry Gin Vancouver’s first small-batch distillery turns out a fine London Dry that signals Vancouver more than its namesake city—as invigorating as a walk in the woods on a spring day, all pine and earthiness, sharpened by lemon peel. Don’t miss Long Table’s G & T Fridays, in the front of their downtown premises ( 1451 Hornby St., 604266-0177. Longtabledistillery.com).
Odd Society Spirits East Van Vodka Sunday afternoons achieve added appeal with a custom cocktail in a comfy chair at Odd Society’s tasting lounge, located in a converted motorcycle garage off Commercial Drive ( 1725 Powell St., 604-5596745. Oddsocietyspirits.com). Distilled from B.C. barley, East Van Vodka is bold, not neutral, perfect for drinking neat or with the distillery’s own blackcurrant cassis.
Sons of Vancouver Distillery Chili Vodka The smallest of the Lower Mainland’s small distilleries, Sons of Vancouver might just put Tabasco out of business—its chili vodka, made from local grain and local Thai Dragon hot peppers, is the perfect base for a caesar or Bloody Mary. The funky North Shore tasting room ( 1431 Crown St., North Vancouver. Sonsofvancouver. ca) is open weekend afternoons. Yaletown Distilling Company Vodka Like many of its competitors, this vodka relies on malted Peace River barley from Northern B.C. The company’s expertise with grain (it owns a brewery next door to its Yaletown premises) shows in this vodka’s sweet, seductive maltiness, as well as its rich and creamy texture. Try it in a Campari cocktail ( 1132 Hamilton St., 604-669-2266. Ytdistilling.com). 33 Acres Brewing Company With all-white décor and greenery, South Cambie's 33 Acres ( 15 W. Eighth Ave., 604-620-4580. 33acresbrewing.com) blends minimalist Scandi style with a laid-back West Coast vibe to complement a solid roster of unusual brews. The beerbatter waffles (weekends only) are worth the wait. Try: 33 Acres of Sunshine, a first-rate FrancoBelgian unfiltered white.
Bomber Brewing A small, dark, homely Eastside tasting room, crammed with locals, on one of the city’s main bike routes ( 1488 Adanac St., 604428-7457. Bomberbrewing.com). Expect to find four or five standards and an ever-changing roster of seasonals, sessionals, specialty casks, and experiments. Try: British Extra Special Bitter (best enjoyed with the house-made potato chips). These two local heroes won gold in 2015 at, respectively, Vancouver magazine’s inaugural craft beer awards and its 11th annual wine awards. It began as a winter seasonal, but after getting rave reviews it’s now on offer all year. Solid pine and a dry, spicy rye balance a building sweetness as the alcohol (at 8.5 percent, high for a red ale) and deep bitterness kick in. Light, crisp, and bone dry, this combines the juicy berry fruit of gamay and the savoury, herbal aromas of the Okanagan.
Steamworks Brewing Co. Imperial Red Ale $5.89 Haywire Gamay Noir Rosé 2013 $24.90