Welcome to the North
There is no denying that British Columbia is in the midst of a deep love affair with drinking craft beer and visiting breweries. Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna and Kamloops have all experienced a boom of the craft beverage industry. Prince George, located in the more central to northern part of the province, is also experiencing the start of its own craft beer revolution.
Crossroads Brewing was the first brewery to open its doors in this northern town since Pacific Western Brewing (originally called Caribou Brewing) opened in 1957.
“CrossRoads represents Prince George at the geographical centre of the province, highlighted by the convergence of the Nechako and Fraser rivers, the intersection of highways 16 and 97, and the crossing of the railway. Our brewery is located in a 70+ year-old historic downtown building, originally built as a garage and dealership. Our family-friendly kitchen, tap room and patio is a community gathering place where people experience our passion for craft beer, food and friends.”
Trench Brewing and Distilling is the city of Prince George’s newest addition, opening their doors in April 2018 with a tasting room serving up some excellent beer, and in the near future some spirits, including gin and vodka. The tasting room atmosphere combines lofty warehouse with cozy cabin; featuring antler chandeliers, cozy couches, rustic live-edge tables offering lots of group seating, and a beautiful bar cut from a solid piece of cedar driftwood pulled from the ocean at Bella Coola and milled by the owners themselves. Longtime residents Craig and Esther Schwenning and Jesse and Bailey Hoefels own this new addition to Prince George. Family seems to be one of the themes of the brewery as the long combined seating helps promote conversation among avid craft beer drinkers.
There are seven fresh beers on tap including an additional guest tap from Crossroads Brewing. Named after local geographical landmarks, beers such as Fang IPA, Pine Pass Pale Ale, and Six Mile Stout hark to the breweries namesake of the Rocky Mountain Trench which stretches from Montana to the Yukon. The beers offer craft flavours without overpowering you with bitterness or hop-bombs. The Fang is a New England style hazy and very juicy IPA while the Omineca Blonde follows a more middle of the road flavour profile. The owners spent some time in the Czech Republic learning to brew beer. Consequentially, their Arctic Pilsner uses 100% Saaz hops imported directly from Europe for that authentic crisp and spicy finish.
The tasting room menu offers food items such as pepperoni, mixed nuts and Hot Rods, but pride of place is given to local restaurant Playgrounds’ fresh baked goods, bacon cheese twists and sausage rolls. They go quickly though, as my group of 10 only managed to grab three sausage rolls and narrowly missed getting the last pretzel.
Prince George is surrounded by some beautiful hikes, trails, rivers and lakes and within 5 minutes drive from Trench across the bridge is LC Gunn Park. A trail raised above the city on the famous cut-banks make it an easy to medium difficulty hike. The trail offers some breathtaking views of almost the entire city. The best time to go is just before the sunset for some of the most stunning city views. Walking through the trees alongside the mighty Fraser River and often with trains rumbling below it really gives you an authentic Prince George experience.
Trench Brewing and Distilling is a little off the beaten path, away from the downtown core, so make the journey to the industrial part of town for a craft beer experience. The delicious variety of beer that Head Brewmaster Paul Goncalves has produced, partnered with some mouthwatering snacks makes it a worthy stop on the new Gold Rush Ale Trail that will launch later this summer featuring many of the breweries and communities in the Northern BC/Cariboo regions.