Beer and bicycles have undoubtedly gone together ever since the invention of the bicycle. One beer style, the Radler, was even invented out of necessity when a Bavarian innkeeper blended lager and lemonade out of necessity in order to serve thousands of thirsty cyclists who all showed up at his beerhall one June day back in 1922.
Biking between breweries is an ideal way to get a little exercise and enjoy some sunshine, and the BC Ale Trail is the perfect place to plan your next ride. Even if you are not an avid cyclist, it is easy to cruise between a few breweries in Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, Kamloops or Penticton. And if you are a little more ambitious, there are lots of great options for multi-day rides, too.
In Victoria, there are ample opportunities to cycle between breweries, whether it’s a slow cycle between two or three brewpubs in the downtown area or something more ambitious. Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub, the cradle of the craft beer revolution dating back to 1984, is a great destination, and Swans, Canoe and the Moon Under Water are all easily accessible by bike.
If you want to ride a little farther, Victoria has a well-developed bicycle trail network with several breweries conveniently located close to the bike paths. Lighthouse Brewing and the 4 Mile Brewpub are both short detours off the E&N Rail Trail not far from downtown, while more ambition riders can ride all the way out to Sooke on the Galloping Goose Regional Trail. The Axe & Barrel Brewhouse is a convenient lunch stop in Langford, and once you reach Sooke there are three options: Sooke Oceanside Brewery, Sooke Brewing Co., and Bad Dog Brewing. Round trip: about 110 km (ideal for an overnight trip).
Or ride up the Lochside Regional Trail through the Saanich Peninsula to Riot Brewing, located just above the Victoria International Airport. Stop at Category 12 Brewing in Saanichton and the Twa Dogs Brewery/Victoria Caledonian Distillery on your way back. Round trip distance: 75 km.
In Vancouver, it’s virtually impossible to go for a bike ride without passing a brewery because there are simply so many of them in the city. Bomber Brewing and Off the Rail are both located on Adanac Street, one of the city’s main bike routes, and each caters to the cycle crowd. Bomber even went to the trouble to install an air pump (under a sign that reads “free beer air”) so you can keep your tires pressurized. Longer trips abound, including brewery clusters in Vancouver’s North Shore, Richmond, and “Brewers Row” in Port Moody, home to four breweries all located on one short stretch of the same street. There’s even a convenient SkyTrain stop nearby if you decide you’ve had too much to ride all the way back to they city.
Kelowna’s burgeoning Downtown North-End Brewery District is home to Kettle River Brewing, Red Bird Brewing and Vice & Virtue Brewing (with a couple more in the works). BNA Brewing and the Tree Beer Institute are not too far, and you can also ride the new Okanagan Rail Trail all the way from Kelowna to Vernon (home of Marten Brewing), cycling past Freddy’s Brewpub, Boundary Brewing and Wild Ambition Brewing, as well as picturesque orchards, wineries, golf courses and lakes along the way. Penticton’s breweries are also easily accessible by bike; the Kettle Valley Rail Trail is a great option for a longer ride.
Another great cycling city is Kamloops thanks to its many nearby mountain bike trails. Downtown Kamloops is home to three breweries: Red Collar Brewing, the Noble Pig Brewhouse and Alchemy Brewing. The Rivers Trail bike path connects to the North Shore, providing easy access to the Red Beard Cafe (a great tap house) and the soon-to-open Bright Eye Brewing. Iron Road Brewing is at the top of a fairly steep hill, but it’s a good après-ride option for mountain bikers enjoying the many trails in Kenna Cartwright Park.
Cycling is a popular activity in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, especially in Cumberland, which is a mecca for mountain biking. With Land & Sea Brewing now open in Comox and Ace Brewing set to join Gladstone Brewing and Forbidden Brewing in Courtenay, there are some great options for bicycle brewery tours there, too. More ambitious riders could add Campbell River’s Beach Fire Brewing as a destination about 50 km north of Courtenay.
And just a ferry ride across the strait is Powell River, home of Townsite Brewing, one of four craft breweries located on the Sunshine Coast. From Powell River to Gibsons where the other breweries await, it’s 124 km along the Sunshine Coast Highway.
Out in the Kootenays, there are several great routes on converted rail lines. The Selkirk International Loop system of trails includes the North Kootenay Lake - Silvery Slocan Super Side Trip, a 177-km trail that connects Nelson’s three breweries (Backroads Brewing, Nelson Brewing and Torchlight Brewing) with Kaslo, home of Angry Hen Brewing. The Rivers, Dams & Mines Super Side Trip runs from Nelson to Trail (Trail Beer Refinery) and Rossland (Rossland Beer Co.); and don’t miss the Lion’s Head Pub in Robson near Castlegar.
Let the BC Ale Trail be you guide to cycling between craft breweries. Arrive Thirsty, Leave Inspired.