Shooting birdies on Kelowna’s golf courses is a stretch for a golfing hack like me, however tracking down delicious BC craft beer is easy. In addition to the tried and true breweries on the Kelowna BC Ale Trail, exciting new breweries and craft beer-focused venues keep popping up and on this trip we enjoyed a delightful mix of brews between tee-offs.
Our home base is Penticton, so my husband Mark and I stayed at the Prestige Beach House in Kelowna for two nights arranged by Tourism Kelowna. With this central base in downtown Kelowna we were able to golf three courses and investigate several of Kelowna’s newest breweries. You could easily fly into the Kelowna Airport and replicate our three-day blueprint. You could make the trip much longer with all the golf courses and craft beer-centric sites to explore. You could also add cideries and wineries plus more outdoor activities to your itinerary.
Day 1: North End Kelowna
Our tee time at Black Mountain Golf Club was at 8:45am so we leisurely played the 18-hole Par 71 Championship Course before lunch. Part of a master-planned golf community, Black Mountain was designed to follow the natural topography and leverage the native vegetation of the land. The meticulously crafted 6,400-yard course offers eye-popping vistas and features a signature island green.
There’s a scenic clubhouse with a well-stocked Pro Shop and delicious dining at The Grill. As part of the great drink menu, rotating taps of craft beer are offered. The food menu includes a wide range of grab-and-go and sit-down options from breakfast, appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers to flatbreads, pastas and steaks.
From there it was a quick drive to nano-sized Boundary Brewing Company’s industrial park location. Specializing in German-style beers, and brewed in small batches in the only coopered oak-kettle system in Canada and just one of a handful in the world. With four to eight beer options depending on when you visit, the day we visited the Slam-Dunkel Dark Pilsner – a collaboration with Elevation 57 Brewing at Big White Mountain Resort, won our vote. Soon, a small licensed patio at the back of Boundary will sport a surprisingly serene meadow view as respite from the industrial area and increase the seating from the cozy interior.
After a quick stop back at Prestige Beach House we took advantage of its prime location and hit some downtown Kelowna hot spots. Located across from City Park with its beaches and facilities like tennis courts, you can get your rest and some recreation. In-house dining is available at West Coast Grill and Oyster Bar for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Happy Hour is daily from 3 to 6 pm and a “Pearls and Bubbles” Happy Hour from 8 to 9 pm with Buck-a-Shuck oysters and $6 sparkling wine.
We walked over for Happy Hour at micro bar bites, which is open from 3 pm to late, Tuesday to Saturday. It’s a tiny space with a pared down bar and food menu, however you always find some local and international beers and wines plus an array of cocktails such as barrel-aged hi-balls.
Next, we took a few steps down Water Street to have dinner at RauDZ Regional Table, a sister property. With a long history of saluting local farmers and producers, RauDZ has a locally-focused dinner menu. The drink menus are carefully curated and have a lovely selection of wines that showcase the Okanagan, cocktails that often highlight local distilleries, and craft beers and ciders from throughout BC.
What a bonus to be able to walk back to our hotel after all that food and libations!
Day 2: Central Kelowna
Our morning’s activity was a round at The Harvest Golf Club. You’d be hard pressed to find a friendlier golf course than The Harvest. In a beautiful orchard setting enhanced by stunning landscaping with water features, flowers, pathways with red bridges, it’s little wonder a lot of weddings are set here. As well as the 18-hole Championship Course, there are many amenities such as a specialty golf shop, extensive practice facility and full-service clubhouse. The course winds through a hillside orchard with sweeping views of Okanagan Lake. Depending on the season you’re negotiating the well-designed track, you’ll find trees laden with fresh fruit. You’re encouraged to help yourself if you’re not too greedy and don’t hold up the game. The Harvest Grille is a local favourite and features Okanagan flavour with West coast flair. Chances are you’ll find many of those orchard fruits on your plate in sauces and garnishes. Here, too, you’ll find a local leaning in the drinks menu with local wines, spirits, craft beers and ciders.
Thirsty after our round we headed to Richter Street, which is quickly becoming a hub for BC craft beer, ciders, spirits and wines. First up was Red Bird Brewing. This microbrewery is quickly becoming a hive of hipster activity. On Father’s Day, for instance, all sorts of games were underway including axe throwing and the Surf Side California Tacos truck was hand with Okanagan Ice Pops for a refreshing lick. In addition to its own brews, guest taps feature BC breweries and cideries. We tasted through the day’s Red Bird selections and left with a six-pack of The Tomb Stout.
Awaiting opening day when we visited, Vice & Virtue Brewing is just across and up the street a bit from Red Bird. Slated to launch Summer 2018, it’ll be another outstanding gastropub if the credentials of the ownership are an indication. From culinary artisans, winemakers to metal craftsmen, there’s a stellar team involved. (One of the ownership team and General Manager Matt Jewell gave me a tour of the facilities.)
We freshened up at the Prestige and walked a few blocks to peek through the windows of the brand-new CRAFT Beer Market located in the old Paramount Theatre on Bernard Avenue and scheduled to open June 28. Launched in Calgary 2011, CRAFT Beer Market is a “premium casual restaurant with a passion for serving fresh local food and great craft beer”. It now has locations in Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto and Kelowna. With over 100 taps of beer available at any time as well as rotating taps of seasonals plus three lines each of white and red wine, you’ll be able to put your favourite craft beer to the test against an international array. Here you’ll find Hoppy Hour, Mondays to Fridays, 2 to 5 pm, every night 10 pm to close, and all-day Sundays.
For that sensation you’re on an exotic vacation within Kelowna, head to OAK + CRU Social Kitchen & Wine Bar. It is a waterfront patio restaurant within the Delta Grand Okanagan (also a wonderful central Kelowna location for explorations). You can watch boat and park activity as you feast on creations from the freshest of Okanagan Valley ingredients including over 200 wineries and many local purveyors and artisans. As you’d expect from such a classy establishment, there’s a fine selection of craft beers and ciders.
Day 3: West Kelowna
We opted to walk back to Bernard Avenue for breakfast at Sunny’s Modern Diner before heading across the bridge. Recently launched, Sunny’s is a little sister in the RauDZ Creative Concepts family of restaurants. With a nod to the diners of the past, old records to spin for a donation to the SPCA, it’s equally welcoming for boomers yearning for days gone by, and newer generations delighted by retro.
Across the bridge in West Kelowna, we golfed the highly popular Two Eagles Golf Course. It is shorter than the other courses we played, and has a championship feel despite allowing all caliber of golfers a fun round. Its Golf Academy has instilled love for the game in many. The views of Okanagan Lake and Mission Hill Family Estate Winery are incredible from the well-manicured fairways and greens.
Reluctant to leave, we had lunch at 19 Okanagan Grill & Bar overlooking the course. The building has a stunning native motif and the team here capitalizes on the bounty of the region. It, too, is a Kelowna Farm to Table Partner. You’ll find an excellent drink list with cider and brew choices including a rotating seasonal tap.
We just in time for Kind Brewing’s 2 pm opening to share a beer flight. Recently opened in West Kelowna along Main Street, it offers a surprisingly delightful view of Okanagan Lake from its tasting room. A casual and friendly environment we could easily see why it’s become a neighbourhood favourite.
Alas, it was time to head home to Penticton. Next trip we’ll check out BNA Brewing Co’s new bowling lanes and perhaps arrange some touring with Smile Cycle Tours, where you pedal along with 14 beer aficionados to check out Kelowna breweries. Maybe then we’ll see what’s new brewing at Tree Brewing Beer Institute and revisit old friends at Kettle River Brewing, Tree Brewing and Freddy’s Brewpub. Kelowna also has a raft of other golf courses to try! See Golf Kelowna for some options.
About those birdies, I did bag a couple, but who is keeping score when the views are that enticing and craft beer is waiting.