Winter Ale Trail
Winter doesn’t slow anyone down in this wonderland of outdoor and urban activities. From skiing and snowboarding to fat-tire biking and snowshoeing there is something for everyone to enjoy along with a delicious, local craft beer for après.
From Merritt up to Kamloops, across to Salmon Arm, and then down to Vernon, the eight craft breweries on this ale trail reflect the geographic diversity of the region with their own individual approaches. No matter what your favourite activity is, you’ll be able to pair it with delicious craft beer.
Kamloops’ urban experience offers shops, restaurants and cafes to enjoy, and Canada’s second-largest ski area, Sun Peaks Resort, is nearby. After you’ve shopped or skied to your heart’s content, indulge in a craft beer at Red Collar Brewing or Iron Road Brewing, or dive into a scratch kitchen meal paired with a brew at Bright Eye Brewing, the Noble Pig Brewhouse or its sister restaurant, Underbelly – The Other Side of the Pig.
At Canada’s original certified organic, farm-based brewery, Crannòg Ales, winter is definitely a slower season, but check their site for their annual winter Open House and special hours heading into Christmas when you can stock up on beer ahead of the holidays.
Follow the Trans-Canada Highway east along the shores of sparkling Shuswap Lake to your next stop in Salmon Arm: the Barley Station, a popular roadside brewpub with delicious food and beer that makes it one of the best highway rest stops you’ll ever come across. Opportunities for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing abound in this lake country paradise.
Vernon is a small city that packs a big punch when it comes to things to see and do: its small-town vibe is melded with world-class amenities, giving it a distinct charm that is well reflected in its popular and attractive downtown brewpub, Marten Brewing. And don’t forget that SilverStar Mountain Resort is just a half-hour away, and Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre is only 25 minutes from downtown.
“All roads lead to Merritt.” Indeed, this small city in the heart of the beautiful Nicola Valley is easily accessible off the Coquihalla Highway. Its resident brewery, the Empty Keg Brew House, provides the incentive to exit the highway, and a wide variety of outdoor activities will encourage you to stay awhile.
If you are interested in visiting this region when it isn’t snowing check out the Southern Interior Ale Trail.
Drive from Vancouver, approximately 4 hours
Morning to night, Red Beard is a great place to catch up with friends over a coffee in the morning, or a craft beer in the evening. Meals and snacks are made from a scratch kitchen that features fresh, seasonal ingredients on a small but quality-focused menu.
Only 20 mins from Kamloops, Harper Mountain offers a snow tube park, snowshoeing, night skiiing, and more. After a great day in the power, warm up beside their large wood fireplace and enjoy panoramic views of the mountain.
All Aboard for creative craft beer and delicious food.
Stroll or shop around and discover back alley art murals, or take a walking tour of historic buildings or public art.
The marriage between beautiful food and unique beer.
This bright, welcoming tasting room will lure you in; the beers and food will keep you coming back.
Sister restaurant of The Noble Pig, offering a casual, authentic vibe with a creative and artistic décor.
Kamloops’ downtown brewery is a gathering place for beer lovers.
Be sure to browse Kamloops’ event calendar when you’re in town for live music, markets, fairs, walking tours and more!
Grab breakfast from The Art We Are Café. They are home to a variety of gluten free and vegan options.
Drive to Chase, approximately 45 minutes
Multi Award Winning Chef Chris Whittaker and his team are bringing their years of experience and dedication together to ensure an exemplary and truly Shuswap dining experience. Our community is everything to us and so is our passion to support the amazing ranchers, farmers, artisans, wineries and breweries that the Shuswap has to offer. We will represent this region through our truly farm to table cuisine and incredible service.
Canada’s first certified organic on-farm brewery.
Drive to Salmon Arm, approximately 45 min
This popular brewpub is much more than just another roadside attraction.
This cross-country ski area is 20 km from Salmon Arm, and has over 170 km of ski trails, 57 km of which are regularly groomed, 17km of snowshoe trails and an 800m canine trail. There is no shortage of variety for the outdoor enthusiast.
Consider picking up a bag lunch at DeMille’s Farm Market in Salmon Arm before heading out to the snowy hills. At the base of Larch Hills, John’s Ski Shack offers snowshoe rentals and expert advice. Horse-drawn open sleigh rides can also be booked with Walter’s Sleigh Rides.
Grab a coffee before heading south to Vernon — or head a 20 minutes north east for a scenic stopover in Sicamous.
Fuel up at EATology. Their fresh, homemade hearty breakfasts are cherished by locals.
Explore over 3,000 acres with 131 runs and 12 gladed areas. Winter-venturers of all levels will love the groomed runs and wide open spaces. Warm up with a coffee or snack at the Bulldog Grand Cafe before heading back to town.
Craft beer and barbecue are on the menu at this beautifully converted venue in downtown Vernon.
This is an easy bike and hike trail that is great for families, and pets are allowed to tag along on leash. Strap on your cross-country skis or snow shoes and explore this beautiful area.
A wonderful blend of East and West. Bamboo Beach's traditional Japanese chef prepares fusion lunch and dinners from scratch.
The hotel incorporates the nearby creek in its design, offering a constant flow of natural water streaming in from outside. The creek and garden atrium are a favourite of locals and out-of-towners.
Be sure to browse Vernon’s event calendar when you’re in town for live music, markets, walking tours and more!
Mandolin’s is a great way to start your day with specialty coffees and smoothies, breakfast bagels, muffins, cinnamon buns, and more! Also a great stop for lunch with daily specials, soups, and salads as well as keto and gluten-free options
18 kms South of Merritt, the timbered Kane Valley is a haven for Cross Country skiers. Connect with the Nicola Nordic Ski Club to help plan your excursion
Head into downtown Merritt for an Indigenous fresh food experience. This quaint gathering place specializes in bannock and all things Saskatoon berry.
Explore the latest exhibit in the Arts Gallery and browse local artisan creations in the gift shop. Exhibits change monthly showcasing a variety of visual art mediums that are sure to provoke thought and discussion.
Celebrate Canadian country music artists, songwriters, influencers, builders and broadcasters at the Canadian Country Music Hall of Honour.
Empty Keg prides itself on fresh beer, friends, family, and community. This brewery has snack options, and also allows you to order in from neighbouring restaurants - a great dinner choice!
The brand new 83 room Best Western Plus Merritt Hotel is Merritt's newest, largest and most modern facility. Offering complimentary full breakfast.
Experience Merritt in the winter and enjoy cross country skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing and snowshoeing. Trails in the Helmer Lake area north of Merritt are designated for snowmobiling while cross country skiers like the Kane Valley XC ski trails south of town. The Nicola Valley is a winter wonderland, whether it is the Merritt Country Christmas Celebration during the last week of November or the outdoor sports.
There are also plenty of indoor family-friendly winter activities like curling, skating, and bowling to enjoy. Visit the 5 Indoor Activities to Enjoy in Merritt blog for trip inspiration.
Road Trip Tasting Notes: Kamloops, Shuswap & Vernon
Produced In Collaboration With
The Shuswap boasts a small town feel and big country activities; and this may be the finest place to get back to getting down-to-earth.
The Shuswap is a region comprised of communities centered around Shuswap Lake, just north of the Thompson-Okanagan region, near the centre of BC’s interior.
Our region is the home of the world-renowned Shuswap Lake and is one of Canada’s premier warm water destinations. Our mild weather, varied geography (alpine meadows, warm lakes, desert-like rolling, arid hills, enchanting forests) and four-seasons ensure that there are a variety of new adventures and experiences to be found.
Kamloops is more than a city, it’s a state of mind. It’s a small-town kind of friendly with metropolitan flavours on the side. Far from the hustle and bustle, it’s a place where you skip the crowds, stretch your legs and expand your horizons. Resting on the shores of two picturesque rivers, the landscapes invite a sense of improvised adventure.
Be amazed by twisty single-track bike trails and winding walkways. Tee off on award-winning golf courses. Cast a line on trophy stillwater. Poke around local shops and boutiques. Engage with the vibrant arts and culture scene. Sample an assortment of food that promises to satisfy and satiate even the most discerning of palates. Indulge in a burgeoning bevy of wineries, craft breweries, restaurants and cafés that are overflowing with culinary enthusiasm and intensity.
A four-season playground where adventure awaits around every corner. In the Spring, hike, bike and adventure through fields and valleys bursting with blooms. Summer is all about our warm-water lakes – swimming, boating, SUP and more have visitors returning again and again. In Fall, experience a harvest season second to none, with all the beauty and bounty you can expect of the season. And in Winter, take home tales of champagne powder snow and horse-drawn sleighs.
Vernon is magical in any season; you’re invited in every season.
As a hub in British Columbia’s Thompson Nicola Region, it is often said: “All Roads Lead to Merritt”. Situated right off the Coquihalla Highway, Merritt is nestled in the heart of the Nicola Valley. There is never a lack of places to stay, food to enjoy and events to attend. From large music festivals to viewing great local art while enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee, we have you covered. Flourishing under the sun, Merritt is home to numerous murals in historical downtown Merritt and proudly has “A Lake a Day as Long as you Stay!” We hope you have an enjoyable visit to Merritt and be sure to tag us online at #ExploreMerritt!