You don’t need to look very hard to find dozens of examples of B.C. craft breweries that have improved the neighbourhoods they have opened up in. Across the province, craft breweries have helped transform their surroundings in profoundly positive ways (in some cases, improving their neighbourhood to such an extent that they can longer afford to stay in it).
Usually, the neighbourhoods craft breweries open up in are either heavily industrial or urban commercial areas.
So where are the breweries in residential neighbourhoods? Why can’t we walk down to the corner brewery, the same way we would the coffee shop or bakery?
Craft breweries are apparently still thought of by many as large industrial operations, as city councils have been reluctant to allow them in residential areas.
But anyone that’s visited a modern craft brewery tasting room knows that’s not the case.
Craft breweries are generally quite small, many making do with less than 3,000 sq. ft. of space. Unlike many industrial operations, the only waste products coming out of breweries are water and spent grain, both of which are often reused and recycled.
The smell breweries produce is sometimes cited as a concern, but that’s nonsense, breweries smell amazing! Perhaps I’m biased (I’m definitely biased), but the smell of beer being brewed hits me the same way as baking bread: it’s a warm, earthy, grainy, slightly sweet smell. It’s not unpleasant in the slightest, certainly no more than what any other neighbour is cooking at dinnertime.
If you’ve ever been to Portland or Seattle, you’ve likely seen firsthand how a craft brewery can successfully integrate with a residential neighbourhood. Breweries like Baerlic Brewing, Stoup Brewing and Rueben’s Brews are smack dab in the middle of residential neighbourhoods, surrounded by single-family detached homes. And it works!
These breweries benefit their communities by providing local jobs, economic benefits, and local options for food and drink, meaning residents aren’t forced to drive elsewhere, which reduces the potential for drunk driving. Studies in the US have found that unlike nearly every other kind of alcohol-serving establishment, craft breweries can actually affect a decrease in crime and increase property values.
Craft breweries make great neighbours, they help create vibrant, walkable communities, and we should welcome them into our neighbourhoods with open arms.
Here are some of our favourite community-based breweries across the province that you won’t have to drive to an industrial subdivision or go downtown to sample.
Bad Dog Brewing
7861 Tugwell Rd., Sooke • BadDogBrewing.ca
Bad Dog owner/brewer John Lyle might have the shortest commute in craft beer: his brewery is located on his property, right behind his house in the Sooke neighbourhood of Otter Point. But this is no glorified homebrew operation, Bad Dog features a 10 Hl brewhouse, a retail space, and an outdoor beer garden. What more could you ask for in a neighbour?
512 Latimer St, Nelson • NelsonBrewing.com
Nelson Brewing might have one of the most unique brewery locations in the province: it’s housed in the 125-year-old former home of the Columbia Brewing Company (of Kokanee fame), a massive heritage building built into the hillside, which happens to be located mid-block in the middle of a residential area surrounded by detached houses. It’s a mixed-use development from a time when that sort of thing was a way of life, and not an urban planning buzzword.
BREWHALL Beer Co.
92 East 2nd Ave., Vancouver • Brewhall.com
If you’re lucky enough to live in the Opsal building, then you’ve got arguably one of the funnest breweries in the province mere feet from your front door. In addition to old school arcade games, long communal tables perfect for getting to know your neighbours and a delicious food menu, BREWHALL also brews up an impressive bevy of innovative and award-winning beers.
4 Mile Brewing Co.
199 Island Hwy., View Royal • FourMileBrewingCo.com
This charming Tudor-style brewpub is conveniently located within walking distance of pretty much all of View Royal, because View Royal is not that big. The building has been serving locals and travellers alike for more than 100 years, and even if you don’t live within walking distance, the E&N bike trail passes right by, so there’s no need to drive.
Shore Line Brewing
#116-3477 Lakeshore Rd., Kelowna • ShoreLineBrewing.com
For residents of The Shore development in Kelowna’s Gyro Beach, you can get your craft beer fix without even having to leave the building. That’s because Shore Line Brewing’s sparkling craft brewery and tasting room is right on the ground floor. It might have one of the best patios of any craft brewery in the province, too.