Penticton blooms in the spring

Enjoy a craft beer responsibly on select Penticton beaches and parks year-round. BC Ale Trail photo

I’ve been visiting Penticton annually to judge beers at the Okanagan Fest of Ale for more than a decade, and this beautiful, small city tucked between Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake seems to get even better year after year.

While summer is prime time for vacationing in the Okanagan, spring is also a wonderful time to visit Penticton, which might also be a little more affordable. Consider planning a trip around the Okanagan Fest of Ale (April 12-13 this year) for a great way to sample the region’s craft beer culture. The popular event, which has been running annually since 1996, offers two separate tasting sessions on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. I’ll be busy tasting dozens of beers on Saturday morning as part of the judging panel. The winners will be announced that afternoon, so if you attend that day you’ll be able to taste the winning beers.

The Okanagan Fest of Ale takes place April 12-13, 2024, and will feature over 70 breweries. Okanagan Fest of Ale photo

The Fest of Ale takes place at the Penticton Trade & Convention Centre, with more than 70 breweries stationed both indoors and outdoors, along with numerous food options and other fun activities like a free photo booth, live music and games. Why not stretch out your visit around the festival for an extra couple of days? There are eight local craft breweries to visit plus numerous activities to enjoy, including golf, shopping, touring the Penticton Farmers’ Market, and walking or bicycling along the Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail. I am also hosting a pre-fest tasting event at Tin Whistle Brewing on April 11 (check for details).

There are eight craft breweries in Penticton. BC Ale Trail photo

Penticton was named “Canada’s Craft Beer Capital” by Lonely Planet in 2020. This well-deserved praise has a lot to do with the fact that this small city in the heart of wine country (close to 90 nearby wineries) has been a leader of the craft beer movement for more than 25 years. Today, it is home to eight uniquely memorable breweries, which are known collectively as the Penticton Beer Blocks.

The Downtown Block features Neighbourhood Brewing, Slackwater Brewing, and Yellow Dog Brewing’s new Penticton location, which is scheduled to open this spring. Each of these breweries has its own dynamic vibe and are just steps away from each other.

Slackwater Brewing features two floors of seating surrounding the central main room and bar, including rooftop and streetside patios. It offers 12 taps, featuring its own beer lineup along with some guest beers and cider, as well as an excellent kitchen serving up delicious and creative dishes — including brunch on the weekend.

Nearby, Neighbourhood Brewing features food inspired by Mexican cuisine to go along with an excellent assortment of beers. The two-level tasting room is family friendly with lots of options for spreading out and relaxing. There is also a spacious patio outside.

At Yellow Dog Brewing, you can expect the same high-quality range of beers that the original Port Moody brewery is famous for, with seating both indoors and outside in the “Dog Park” patio.

Enjoy local craft beer on one of many patios around Penticton. BC Ale Trail photo.

Just a seven-minute walk away is the Ellis Block, which includes Cannery Brewing and Highway 97 Brewing.

Named after its original location, an Aylmer fruit and vegetable cannery, Cannery Brewing moved into this custom-built facility in 2015. It features a family-friendly taproom where you can enjoy their broad range of delicious beers and dishes. They have a big patio and the Cannery Backyard, an outdoor oasis that is open during the spring and summer.

Right across the street is Highway 97 Brewing, which also moved here from its original location. Its tasting room includes 100 seats inside along with 45 more on the outdoor patio. With 22 taps and an expanded kitchen, you will definitely be able to find something interesting to try.

Penticton’s Midtown Block features the Barley Mill Brew Pub, based in an old English Tudor-style building, which has been home to a neighbourhood pub since 1982, as well as Tin Whistle Brewing, an early craft beer pioneer that has been reimagined and reinvigorated under new ownership and became B.C.’s first carbon neutral brewery.

Finally, the Bench Block features Abandoned Rail Brewing, a farm-based brewery situated right on the KVR Trail in the heart of the Naramata Bench surrounded by wineries, cideries, and distilleries.

Mountain biking is just one of the many activities craft beer enthusiasts can enjoy in Penticton. Visit Penticton photo by Evan Wishloff

And throughout the city, local pubs and restaurants offer even more options for craft beer and culinary explorations following a day at the golf course, mountain biking the many trails, or rock climbing at Skaha Bluffs.


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