Whether you’re a visitor to BC, or simply making the most of a well-earned staycation, this brewery crawl aims to keep the holiday spirit going! Explore beautiful seasonal light displays followed by stops at a handful of breweries – all accessible by public transportation.
Our journey takes us from historic Gastown in downtown Vancouver to Coquitlam’s holiday-themed Lights at Lafarge with stops along the way at a handful of breweries. Leave your cars at home, hop on the SkyTrain and let’s go exploring!
Fun fact: SkyTrain is the oldest and one of the longest automated driverless light rapid transit systems in the world.
We started our day’s adventure in Gastown at Steamworks Brewpub on the Vancouver Brewery Creek Ale Trail for two reasons – it’s located next to Waterfront Station and the SkyTrain that we’ll be riding today, and it’s a great place to fuel up with a delicious meal before heading out on our crawl. Within its beautifully renovated building, Steamworks’ pub spreads out through several rooms on two levels. The food menu at Steamworks is vast, offering everything from clam chowder and wings, to pasta, burgers, fish tacos, pizza and more, including a plant-based and vegetarian section. To pair with your meal you can enjoy a selection of Steamworks brews, some of which will have been crafted in-house in the original brewery and the rest at their newer production brewery in Burnaby. I had the Salted Chocolate Porter which was described as, “A well-balanced combination of toasted chocolate malts and hand harvested Pacific Ocean Fleur de Sel from Vancouver Island Salt Co.” Well balanced indeed!
Travel Logistics – Translink SkyTrain
With a good base for today’s crawl, it’s time to get started and head off on the SkyTrain. Inside Waterfront Station, you can purchase your tickets in advance at a kiosk or at the gate by simply swiping your credit card (or use a Compass Card if you already have one). Once through the gates, make your way to the Expo Line platform. We’ll have to change trains once en route but not to worry, each stop is called out via intercom and there’s a map inside each train. Once you arrive at the Commercial/Broadway stop you’ll need to exit the train (not the station) and proceed to the other side of the station to catch the Millennium Line heading to Lafarge Lake – Douglas. (Make sure you hop on the train going to Lafarge and not VCC) The trip from start to finish without any stops other than the train change is approximately 55 minutes.
Time for our first brewery stop – Dageraad Brewing
In just a few minutes we’ve departed Vancouver and are travelling through the next town, Burnaby. On the North of Fraser Ale Trail, Burnaby is host to three breweries. We decided top make a quick stop at one: Dageraad Brewing. Hop off the train at Production Way station and it’s an easy six-minute walk to the brewery. Here you’ll find a wide selection of multi-award-winning Belgian-style beers and special one-off collaboration beers. I had the Irresolution IPA, an annual offering brewed using the brewery’s leftover hops, making it unique each year. It was superb. Note: Dageraad doesn’t often make IPAs and that’s why I had to taste this one. Dageraad is known for its stellar array of Brunes, Blondes, Farmhouse Ales, Saisons, Singles and more. Here’s a full list.
Holiday Lights at Lafarge
Back on the train and on our way to view the Lights at Lafarge, a 1.2-kilometre loop around a lake in the city of Coquitlam, and also the last stop on this train line. This year’s event features over one hundred thousand lights wrapping their way around the lake in multiple themed zones and it’s free! There are also two food truck zones on-site throughout the season for visitors to warm up with hot chocolate and treats.
Produced by the City of Coquitlam and presented by Coquitlam Centre, Lights at Lafarge is Metro Vancouver’s largest free outdoor winter lights display.
The lights turn on at dusk and remain on to 11 p.m. nightly until mid-February, and through midnight on New Year’s Eve. For the best viewing experience, skip the crowds by coming before 6 p.m. or after 8 p.m. on weeknights and avoiding weekends. For full information on special features and weekly activities visit Coquitlam’s website.
Thirsty yet? Next stop is Mariner Brewing
Conveniently located steps away from the Coquitlam Central SkyTrain station (just two quick stops from Lafarge) is Coquitlam’s only brewery – so far – Mariner Brewing. The brewery was named for NASA’s Mariner space program as well as the nearby street of the same name. Mariner offers two covered and dog-friendly patios and a taproom with a full in-house food menu to go along with a strong beer program. The Marshmallow Stout is particularly festive, and is a vegan milk stout, making it accessible to those with dietary restrictions.
Next, on to the Port Moody Ale Trail!
Time to hop back on the train at Coquitlam Centre. The Port Moody Ale Trail is conveniently located only a few minutes down the line heading back towards Vancouver, and next to the Moody Centre SkyTrain station. The walk is just a quick loop around an overpass and in about nine minutes you’re there. The Port Moody Ale trail features six very different breweries all in a row, known as Brewers Row. From East to West you’ll find Twin Sails Brewing, Yellow Dog Brewing, Rewind Beer Co, Parkside Brewery, Brave Brewing Co and Moody Ales.
Tip: If you’re an ice cream lover I’d recommend you make a pit stop between the train station and Brewers Row at Rocky Point Ice Cream (pictured below) where they handcraft ice cream in small batches ‘with love’ using as many local ingredients as possible.
Twin Sails Brewing
On this trip, I stopped in first at Twin Sails to warm up with a Con Leche Milk Stout. Described by Twin Sails as “A Horchata style Milk Stout brewed with a variety of roasted malts and coffee. It pours very dark black with a thick creamy mocha head. The oats and lactose provide a silky rich mouthfeel, which is balanced with strong aromatics of coffee. The beer is conditioned on cinnamon and vanilla beans, which provide a unique spice character that pairs perfectly with the strong coffee & chocolate flavours of the stout. ” In other words, it’s delicious! You’ll also find a multitude of other styles including Hazy IPAs which Twin Sails is well known for. In fact, at the 2018 BC Beer Awards they swept the new Hazy IPA category taking home Gold, Silver and Bronze.
Yellow Dog Brewing
Next door, Yellow Dog Brewing was the first of the five breweries to open on Brewers Row and has since expanded to offer a larger tasting room with several taps plus a few guest taps. Here you’ll enjoy beers like Shake a Paw Smoked Porter, High Five Hazy IPA, Take a Walk Wit, Pack Leader Pilsner and other seasonals. Noticing a trend here? All of the beers are named with dog themes. Much to my delight, the Winter Sunset Sour Cherry Bruin was on tap when I visited this time.
Rewind Beer Co.
They may have opened just this year, but Rewind Beer Co is taking things back a few decades. The neon signs, vintage movie posters and signage, and overall nostalgic feel will take you right back to the ’80s, ’90s, and early ’00s. They are also home to the Row’s first in-brewery kitchen, Hightop Pizza. They’ve started off with a solid foundation of their own beers, as well as a series of collaborations with other lower mainland breweries. We recommend refuelling with a Detroit-style pizza and a flight before you continue along the row to your next stop.
Next down the line is Parkside Brewery, with a central location on Brewers Row and a beautiful, welcoming tasting room. Parkside offers a solid lineup of core beers and a few seasonals including three varieties of IPAs, plus a couple of wonderfully wintery-sounding beers – Nitro Button Irish Stout and Snow Globe Salted Caramel Porter. Here you can sip your beer, play some shuffleboard or enjoy the view of Rocky Point Park from their many windows. You’ll often find a food truck parked out front, check the schedule for information.
The newest brewery on Brewers Row, Brave Brewing Co. can be found in the space formerly occupied by now-closed The Bakery Brewing. They have opened with three of their own beers on tap: Grace Under Pressure Lager, First Date Hazy IPA, and Last One Standing Amber Lager. On their website, their brewing philosophy is described as appreciating the simple things, “and we take classic recipes and build on the experience by adding our passion to the process, before, during and after.”
At the far end of Brewers Row is Moody Ales & Co. The brewery features weekly experimental casks and small batches along with a solid lineup of core beers: Blonde and Brown Ales, IPAs, and Lagers. A favourite seasonal of mine, The Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout is divine and not to be missed!
Alas, most of the breweries on Brewers Row do not have kitchens so you’ll have to plan your meal around your brewery stops. You’ll likely find locally-sourced snacks in the tasting rooms and with luck, you might time it for a day when a food truck is parked at one of the breweries. Nearby, there are a couple of great options too. Taps & Tacos and the Burrard Public House are both within easy walking distance between Brewers Row and the Moody Centre SkyTrain Station. Alternatively, hop back on the SkyTrain and when you reach Commercial/Broadway to switch trains back to the Expo Line, hop off instead and head five blocks north to Tangent Cafe which offers great breakfast, craft beer, delicious pub food & Malaysian curries.
Plan your trip
Let BC Ale Trail be your guide. Links above to various Ale Trails have maps to help you navigate and links to the breweries if you’d like more information. You’ll find a full schedule here for the SkyTrain along with pricing information.
Enjoy your crawl and Happy New Year!
Other Holiday Crawl options
Combine the North of the Fraser Ale Trail with Shine Bright Downtown until January 31st
Continue your Holiday Lights Crawl along the SkyTrain lines with a stop in New Westminster. Find new and exciting lighting installations, elevated shopping experiences, plus plenty of events and specials at local businesses throughout December and January. Be sure to check out the website for a full calendar of events.
Combine the Langley Ale Trail with Christmas Glow until December 31st
This year’s all new theme at the Christmas Glow Gardens is “The Jolly Jumble”, featuring over 1 million lights. Meet beloved characters, participate in the scavenger hunt, and enjoy treats from the food trucks. Tickets are required, and it’s recommended to book in advance.
Combine the Victoria Ale Trail with The Butchart Gardens until January 6th
Colourful lights, carollers, a brass band and festive fare—Christmas is a cheerful time of year at The Gardens. Experience the Magic of Christmas. Bundle up and stroll through the Twelve Days of Christmas display, sing along to the sounds of the season with Traditional Carollers or listen to the Festive Brass, then stop in at the Coffee Shop to warm up with a hot chocolate and gingerbread by the fire.
Combine the Vancouver – Brewery Creek Ale Trail with VanDusen Festival of Lights until January 2nd
Featuring a Carousel, Dancing Lights, Santa’s Cabin, Fireside Lounge and more! Reservations in advance are highly recommended.
Combine Vancouver’s North Shore Ale Trail with The Peak of Christmas until January 2nd
Feel the enchantment and radiance of twinkling lights, the calm echo of the snow, the warmth of Santa’s smile as he greets you in his workshop and the joy of witnessing real reindeer – only here at Vancouver’s North Pole. The public transit system offers regular service to and from the base of Grouse Mountain every half hour. See Grouse Moutain’s website for details.
Combine the Fraser Valley Ale Trail with the Christmas Tree Trail until January 3rd
The Christmas Tree Trail is a self-guided Christmas Tree tour that will take you through the Village of Harrison Hot Springs. After visiting all the Christmas tree locations, step out to Lights by the Lake, this light display can be viewed both during the day and at night along the front of the lagoon; the lights will not come on until the evening.