Ranking Vancouver’s Best Breweries

Vancouver has a lot of breweries, so many it can be hard to choose where to go on any given day. So in the spirit of helping, we’ve undertaken the controversial task of ranking Vancouver’s breweries from worst to best.

Before we get to the results let’s go over the ground rules:

  1. They must be a brewery located within the Vancouver area (sorry Four Winds, Dageraad, North Van, etc.)
  2. The brewery must have either a physical tasting room or something to that effect.
  3. No contract breweries or breweries that operate out of other locations (yes that mean Boombox, Superflux and more don’t qualify).
  4. The brewery itself must be located within Vancouver (eg. Central City on Beatty St. doesn’t count, neither does Steamworks as their main brewing location is in Burnaby)

With all that considered we come to a total of 25 different breweries. In order to rank each of the breweries we’ve weighted the outcomes based on three different metrics: Ale/Sessions opinion, local beer experts opinion and public polling. From each poll we took the average score of 1-10 for the breweries, and generated a final score with a maximum of 30 points.

Beer experts asked to participate in this process included: @vanpours, @yvrbeer, @craftbeerbella, @vancitydrinks, @thegrowlerbc, @mikescraftbeer, @vancitybeer, @beer_brothers, @beertifulbc, @thebeerdshow, @brewersrow, @brewsbabesbanny, @bccraftbreweries, @wanderbrewbc.

Here are the results:

25. Big Rock Brewing (8.8 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 3
  • Beer experts score: 2
  • Public score: 3.8

Sorry Big Rock; perhaps it’s the location being just a little far from the cluster around main street, or the fact the brewery originally hails from Alberta, but whatever the case may be, someone had to end up on the bottom of the list.

24. Yaletown Brewing (11.07 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 4
  • Beer experts score: 2.4
  • Public score: 4.67

The only brewery properly located in the downtown core, Yaletown Brewing earns some credit for the longstanding history of the brand and the fact they do take home a number of awards every now and then. It also happens to be a consistently busy location, something that is a rare find in Yaletown.

23. Dockside Brewing (11.65 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 3.5
  • Beer experts score: 3.6
  • Public score: 4.55

Many may not realize that Granville Island is home to two breweries, with the Granville Island Hotel housing its own onsite brewing facility. Dockside earns some good brownie points for having an excellent waterfront patio, but loses some for being fairly pricey.

22. Granville Island Brewing (12.47 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 4.5
  • Beer experts score: 4.2
  • Public score: 3.77

While we will absolutely defend their excellent small batch series beers (the Japanese Biere De Garde was one of the best beers in 2017), it just wasn’t enough to move the needle on the votes. The tap room does enjoy a massive tourist influx, so I don’t think they’ll be hurting anytime soon.

21. Dogwood Brewing (14.6 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 4.5
  • Beer experts score: 4.6
  • Public score: 5.5

Chances are Dogwood’s location are what hurt them the most on this list, being right near Knight Street bridge off of SE Marine drive. That being said, they get credit for being the only brewery on this list that is 100% organic.

20. Red Truck Beer Co. (14.81 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 5
  • Beer experts score: 4.4
  • Public score: 5.41

Red Truck puts on a great summer concert series, and they have one of the larger taprooms in the main street area. What you may notice on this list, is the breweries that tend to stick with conventional beer choices rank lower than those that take more experimental risks, and Red Truck is no exception to that rule.

19. Andina Brewing (15.9 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 4.75
  • Beer experts score: 5.4
  • Public score: 5.75

If you’ve driven down Powell street, Andina’s is hard to miss. The bright yellow brewery serves up some delicious ceviche, and is generally fairly busy. While they do take some unique risks with their beer, not all of them are successful, but the ones that are tend to resonate very well with drinkers.

18. Postmark Brewing (16.37 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 5.5
  • Beer experts score: 4.8
  • Public score: 6.07

Postmark has done an excellent job of being a partner/sponsor of practically every major event in the city. From the Seawheeze to Rugby Sevens, Postmark beer has practically taken over as the defacto Vancouver craft beer. Perhaps its the overexposure that puts them in the middle of the pack, compared to more “exclusive” offerings.

17. 33 Acres (17.85 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 5.5
  • Beer experts score: 5.4
  • Public score: 6.95

The single most ‘instagrammable’ brewery in the city. 33 Acres brews consistently quality beers, and with the addition of 33B, their experimental tap room, they have the ability to add a very creative spin to their core lineup. This was interesting, the public poll ranked 33 Acres quite high on the list, but with our score and the other beer experts average it went from a top ten ranking down at least 10 spots.

16. East Van Brewing (18.08 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 6
  • Beer experts score: 6
  • Public score: 6.08

East Van Brewing may be one of the newer breweries on this list, but it’s clearly managed to make a strong enough impression to beat out some of the more established players. Doesn’t hurt they adopted the well known East Van cross as a symbol, plus their stouts are pretty darn good.

15. Bomber Brewing (18.93 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 6.5
  • Beer experts score: 6.2
  • Public score: 6.23

Between the Bomber Russian Imperial Stout and the Parklife Passion Fruit Ale, you’ve got two killer beers. The tap room is small but cozy and that Adanac street beer route is fantastic.

14. Doan’s Craft Brewing Co. (19.15 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 6
  • Beer experts score: 7.2
  • Public score: 5.95

There was debate as to whether Doan’s qualified for the list now that they contract their brewing out of Craft Collective Beerworks; but as they still operate their small tasting room on Powell Street, they still apply. Doan’s arguably makes the best local Kolsch out there at the moment.

13. Electric Bicycle Brewing (19.2 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 6.8
  • Beer experts score: 6.4
  • Public score: 6

Electric Bicycle is another new brewery that managed to come out with a distinct vibe and have been experimenting with oddball beer styles. They also benefit from being quite close to R&B, so drinkers can easily navigate between the two.

12. Off The Rail Brewing (19.54 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score:  6.75
  • Beer experts score: 6.6
  • Public score: 6.19

If you haven’t tried the Raj Mahal India Ale then you’re doing yourself a disservice. The tasting room is bright and cheery, and the staff always seem to be in a positive mood. Another great spot along Adanac.

11. Faculty Brewing (19.63 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 6.75
  • Beer experts score: 6.6
  • Public score: 6.33

There was a strong chance that tiny Faculty could have been overlooked by drinkers drawn to the main/Olympic village area by the massive likes of Tap & Barrel, CRAFT, Brewhall, etc. But it seems Faculty has made its mark, and impressed enough drinkers to solidify a strong showing on the list.

10. Main Street Brewing (19.78 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 6.5
  • Beer experts score: 6.8
  • Public score: 6.48

Despite being one of the larger locations off of Main street, Main Street Brewing always seems to have a line outside. That’s a testament to the consistent quality of the beer from both the regular and experimental series.

9. Callister Brewing (20.05 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 7
  • Beer experts score: 6.4
  • Public score: 6.65

Small but mighty Callister. Callister was hard to qualify on this list, as the brewery itself actively maintains an ongoing contract brewing cycle with a number of new rotating labels. Nevertheless, the focus on creativity (both in the beer, and in the local art showcases) helped propel them into the top ten.

8. R&B Brewing (20.12 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 6.75
  • Beer experts score: 6.4
  • Public score: 6.97

R&B is like stepping into someones converted basement. Old records, weird lighting and a very humble vibe are all positives for the brewery. They also happened to make of one of the better initial NE IPAs in the city (Shake Your Fruity) which continues to be a solid beer.

7. Strathcona Brewing (20.23 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 6.5
  • Beer experts score: 7.8
  • Public score: 5.93

Strathcona came to East Van with a style uniquely their own, and its a good venue to enjoy a pint and a handmade pizza. They currently house cult favourite Superflux and they’ve continued to pump out some good seasonal beers along with a solid core lineup.

6. Luppolo Brewing (20.31 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 7
  • Beer experts score: 7
  • Public score: 6.31

Luppolo has flair, both in their brewing and in their taproom. While it may be a small venue, they consistently manage to pump out some creative ideas. I happen to think Luppolo doesn’t get as much credit as they deserve, so nice to see them in the top ten.

5. Storm Brewing (20.93 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 7.5
  • Beer experts score: 5.8
  • Public score: 7.63

The complete opposite of 33 Acres brewing, the OG of craft beer in Vancouver is going strong after more than 20 years. Look, Storm may smell weird, something may stick to your shoes, and you may see a rat or two but that’s all the reasons why they are so well beloved. The DGAF attitude translates into the sometimes insane beer options, and they are a can’t miss brewery in Vancouver.

4. Powell Street Brewing (21.89 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 7.6
  • Beer experts score: 7.4
  • Public score: 6.89

Powell’s Old Jalopy Pale Ale is still one of the best core beers that Vancouver has. Powell maintains a difficult balance of an established and consistent regular lineup and creative seasonal and experimental offerings.

3. Parallel 49 Brewing (21.97)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 7.8
  • Beer experts score: 7.2
  • Public score: 6.97

A massive overhaul to their taproom along with a more dedicated shift in focus to start creating some really inventive beer has Parallel ranking much higher than we would have given them credit for a few years back. They are on fire right now, and having the creative minds of Boombox in-house is just an added bonus.

2. Strange Fellows Brewing (25.34 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 8.8
  • Beer experts score: 8.6
  • Public score: 7.94

Strange Fellows is one of the best examples of a brewery that knows exactly what it wants to be right out of the gates. Strange Fellows has embraced their brand, community and beer style with vigor and as a result, they are one of the best examples of craft beer in the city.

1. Brassneck Brewing (25.63 points)

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  • Ale/Sessions score: 9
  • Beer experts score: 8.6
  • Public score: 8.03

This didn’t really come as a surprise, Brassneck is much beloved by both the public and the nerdiest of beer nerds out there. With their consistently rotating taps and the generally interesting beers being produced, the question wasn’t whether Brassneck would come out on tops, but just how far ahead of the rest it would be.

 

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