Fuel for the Sole takes us on a five-day exploration of the Kamloops, Shuswap, and Vernon area, featuring communities, food and drink highlights, and some local craft breweries found on the BC Ale Trail.
You will find seven unique craft breweries in the triangle between Kamloops, Shuswap and Vernon. From the community of Kamloops, across to Salmon Arm and then down to Vernon, this triangular region of interior British Columbia is geographically diverse and each brewery reflects its own individual approach. BC Ale Trail declares you will “Arrive Thirsty, Leave Inspired” and that is exactly what happened to us on our trip!
Response to COVID-19
We are now in Phase 3 of the provincial recovery plan in BC and it is important to note that British Columbians are safe to travel within the province. We must remain smart, safe, and respectful when we return to travel and tourism within BC.
Our travels within the Kamloops, Shuswap and Vernon regions made us feel very safe in terms of COVID-19 precautions and we observed everyone taking all necessary steps to prevent the spread of the virus. Here are the practices and protocols we observed in every restaurant and brewery we visited:
- Our contact details were recorded at each venue to ensure contact tracing.
- The required 2m/6ft distance was maintained between chairs and an explanation was given to us as to not get up from our table to wander or socialize.
- Every table and all chairs were sanitized between seatings, along with high touch areas.
- Staff members were washing and sanitizing their hands between tables, before serving food, taking away touched menus, processing payments or dealing with cash and clearing tables.
- Each venue maintained a limit of 6 people per group at each table.
- It was commonplace to see servers, bartenders, chefs and patrons wearing masks.
What makes Kamloops, Shuswap and Vernon a fantastic tourist destination right now is the availability of outdoor activities. The vast amount of lakes, water sports, hiking trails, mountain biking, and golf courses make this area much safer with all of their fresh air activities.
Follow the BC Ale Trail’s Beer Triangle
The Kamloops, Shuswap, Vernon triangle trail is located in BC’s Thompson-Okanagan region. This region is located in the interior of BC and is a popular tourist destination with a sunny climate, beautiful landscapes, a relaxed lifestyle, and a diverse economy based on agriculture. We spent 5 days eating, drinking, and adventuring throughout this region. Here’s how you can too!
Day 1 – Travel to Vernon
Vernon, British Columbia is a hidden gem that is surrounded by crystal clear lakes and enjoys an amazingly sunny climate. Vernon is a small city with tons to see and do. It has a small-town vibe and offers world-class amenities which makes it an incredibly charming town to visit. And you are going to find fabulous BC craft beer here!
Vernon is a fantastic city to visit year-round and each season offers its own adventures. The spring offers amazing hiking and biking through trails covered in blooms. The summers are hot and dry and Vernon is surrounded by crystal clear, warm water lakes to enjoy swimming and water sports. This area is known for its agriculture and the fall season allows you to enjoy its beautiful harvest. The area is covered in powdery snow in the winter and there are nearby ski hills to enjoy.
Dinner at Marten Brewing Company
Marten Brewing Company is a gorgeous craft beer micro-brewery and is located in the heart of downtown Vernon. The brewmasters at Marten Brewing are continually revolving their taps, offering their core beers, variations of fan favourites, pilot brews, and mysterious batches. They offer full-bodied beers, with no preservatives and no additives, which are all naturally carbonated and unfiltered. We loved their wide variety of craft beers and appreciated how smooth they all were.
This is a gorgeous venue with seating for 200 people on two levels surrounding and overlooking the brewery in the middle of the room. There is no denying that their flavourful BC craft beer is the focal point here.
Beer and food Highlights:
A huge stand-out for us was their Rail Trail Apricot Ale. It is a bright yellow ale with hints of apricot and mandarin orange. We also loved the Rough and Dirty Red Ale, which just happens to be a fan favourite. This ale has a beautiful red colour and is malt-forward, with a hint of hops at the end.
The Pork & Pine Pizza may just be the best pizza we have ever had. It is their take on a Hawaiian, but they use smoked pulled pork with grilled pineapple and tomato barbeque sauce.
Hotel – Prestige Vernon Lodge
Spend a night at the inviting Prestige Vernon Lodge. The hotel has a stunning atrium with over 1,000 plants, a pool, and a hot tub to create a gorgeous atmosphere and relaxing fun for the whole family. Vernon Lodge incorporates the nearby creek as a key element of its design, offering a constant flow of natural water streaming in from outside. A stay at The Prestige Vernon Lodge is ideal as it is the perfect base to explore nearby downtown Vernon and all the outdoor adventures this town offers.
Day 2– Explore Vernon and Salmon Arm
Breakfast at EATology
EATology is a popular breakfast and lunch spot and caters to a variety of dietary needs, including gluten-free and vegan-friendly meals. The key to their delicious menu is using fresh and local ingredients.
The absolute biggest, fluffiest and creamiest Buttermilk Pancakes you have ever had. A super fresh and healthy Cobb Salad, topped with a poached egg.
Hiking at Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park
Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park is situated along the Coldstream Valley and showcases North Okanagan’s beautiful grasslands. The park is 3,218 hectares and has over 14 km of trails to explore. The park is abundant with plant-life, animals and reptiles, including rattlesnakes (so make sure to tuck in your pants!). Spend the day exploring the three beaches, swimming, or paddling in the warm waters, and have lunch in the picnic area complete with washroom facilities.
Lunch at Davison Orchards Farm House Cafe
Davison Orchards Country Village is a truly unique and iconic landmark in Vernon. This orchard grows a huge variety of apples, as well as other fruits like peaches, cherries, apricots, pears, cantaloupes, watermelon, pumpkins and more.
Take a tractor ride through the orchard for a guided tour showing you how all of their produce grows. The village also has a country market and gift shop, petting zoo, playground, fresh baked goods, real fruit ice cream, 100% pure apple juice, and a market selling all of their own produce.
Do not leave without a stop at the Davison Orchards Farm House Cafe. The cafe is located in the original farmhouse built in 1946. They serve amazing homemade lunches, co!ees and baked goods. And many of their menu items have zero food miles, as they are made with ingredients grown and prepared right from their farm. Enjoy your meal inside or on one of two spectacular patios overlooking the orchards and beautiful Okanagan Valley.
The orchard makes their own 100% pure apple juice and the cafe had turned this juice into a delicious drink called the Applelanche. It’s a pure apple juice slush with no sugar added. Heavenly!
Coffee at Ratio Coffee
Before hitting the road to Shuswap, make sure you stop in at Ratio Coffee for a delicious coffee & homemade pastry. They have created a warm and inviting atmosphere with amazing customer service.
We loved that they can make an iced version of any of their coffees. We enjoyed an amazing Iced Mocha here.
Travel to Shuswap
The Shuswap area of British Columbia sits just north of Okanagan where Canada’s longest highways meet. The Shuswap region is made up of eight communities including North Shuswap, South Shuswap, Salmon Arm, Sicamous & Eagle Valley, Armstrong & Spallumcheen, Chase, Enderby and Falkland. What they all have in common is the gorgeous Shuswap Lake.
The Shuswap region is beautiful, casual and down-to-earth. There is no end to exploring here – breweries serving up BC craft beer, wineries, hot springs, rolling farms, artists, mountains and meadows.
Explore Salmon Arm Wharf and Downtown Salmon Arm
Take a stroll down the Salmon Arm Wharf – the largest wooden wharf in North America. You will be rewarded with stunning views of Shuswap Lake. Explore Downtown Salmon Arm which is full of independent shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Dinner at Barley Station Brew Pub
Barley Station Brew Pub is an incredibly welcoming brewpub and you feel its warmth as soon as you walk in. The building is designed to resemble a heritage train station and is surrounded by a colourful flower garden. We loved all of their craft beer and all of their food. It is top-notch and they have the awards to prove it, including a gold medal at the Canadian Brewing Awards.
This brewery offers great flights and we were able to sample each one of their core beers. Our overall favourite was the Talking Dog Wit Beer. This Belgian style ale is created from the use of coriander and orange rind placed in the boil. The cloudy appearance is a result of the use of locally grown winter wheat.
We were lucky to be there in the mid-summer to enjoy their seasonal Raspberry Blonde Ale. Extremely refreshing, light, and fruity.
Hotel – Prestige Harbourfront Resort Salmon Arm
The Prestige Harbourfront Resort in Salmon Arm is located on the banks of a nature estuary with unobstructed views of Shuswap Lake and Bastion Mountains. You can enjoy this view from one of the many lake-view rooms or on a stroll down the boardwalk located behind the hotel.
We loved the location of the Prestige Harbourfront Resort as it is right beside the Salmon Arm Wharf and just a few blocks from downtown’s shopping and dining offerings.
The hotel has made it is easy to enjoy year-round with an indoor and outdoor pool, outdoor hot tub, spa and salon, athletic club and complimentary bikes, sporting equipment, board games and beach toys.
Day 3 – Explore the Shuswap
Breakfast at Eco Treats
Eco Treats is the perfect breakfast stop for a hand crafted espresso, home made organic baked goods and scratch made paninis, soups, salads, and light breakfasts.
We are coffee freaks and we love it when a little extra passion is put into our coffee. Eco Treats has seriously gorgeous latte art, making our drinks even more special.
Kayak on Little Shuswap Lake
Quaaout Lodge is located on the shores of Little Shuswap Lake. It’s guests have access to their beach, canoes, and kayaks. There are other public access points so you are able to paddle around and enjoy the quiet waters on Little Shuswap Lake.
Lunch at Jack Sam’s Restaurant at Quaaout Lodge
Jack Sam’s Restaurant at Quaaout Lodge puts an emphasis on the freshest high-quality ingredients and on locally inspired culinary traditions including Indigenous foods. They truly embody the word “Waytk” meaning “Hello” with their welcoming atmosphere.
You will enjoy your dining experience while being surrounded with the beauty of their wilderness. They also serve up some delicious BC craft beer.
This was our first Wedge Salad and I am officially converted. The perfect combination of sweet, smokey, and tart with Helmut’s Maple Bacon, crispy shallot, red onion, candied walnut, smokey egg, Tanto Latte ricotta, maple and sherry vinegar reduction.
The Riverfresh Lingcod Fish and Chips were cooked to perfection. A crispy beer batter and house cut fries. The restaurant also serves a perfect bannock which is a traditional Indigenous fry bread.
Tour of Crannog Ales Brewery
Crannog Ales is a very special place. It is Canada’s first certified organic farmhouse microbrewery and is one of only a handful of such breweries in the world. Here they only brew organic ales, focusing on local and seasonal specialty ingredients, most of which come from their own farm. The brewery was founded by Rebecca Kneen and Brian McIsaac. Their experiences growing their own hops led Rebecca to publish a manual on hop growing, which has actually helped to revive hop growing all throughout British Columbia.
The entire operation is sustainable and the farm and the brewery operate as one entity. Even the farm’s pigs eat much of the brewery’s by-products. They have a purposeful decision not to grow beyond the footprint of their farm itself. The brewery’s water is special too. It comes from a well on the farm which is fed by numerous springs both on and next to the land. This water helps to give their ales a genuine old-world flavour.
Make sure to plan your visit well ahead of time as tours and tastings are by appointment only on Fridays and Saturdays between 1:00 and 3:30.
We loved the Red Branch Irish Ale which is a rich, red ale made in the Irish tradition. With hints of caramel and chocolate malts, you will love this smooth ale.
Travel to Kamloops
Kamloops, British Columbia is an absolutely gorgeous city that is surrounded by rolling hills covered in fragrant sagebrush. This region is known for its rugged landscape and outdoor activities, most notably its extensive hiking and mountain biking trail network.
Like many regions nearby, Kamloops is surrounded by fresh water, so be sure to swim, paddle, or cast a line on one of Kamloops’ 100+ fishing lakes. The climate, agriculture, and vibrant population of Kamloops come together to create seriously incredible BC craft beer.
Dinner at Bright Eye Brewing
Bright Eye Brewing is a feast for the eyes. The tasting room is gorgeous and features a live tree, a beautiful mural by a local artist, and a refurbished Austin Mini hanging on the wall.
Bright Eye features a fresh, ever-changing variety of innovative beers served right from the tanks they were made in. And the food is spectacular. You can tell they put just as much focus on their food menu as they do on their delicious craft beers.
Beer and Food Highlights:
A small but defining detail at Bright Eye is their glassware. Unique, delicate and beautiful.
The Seshun nordic pale ale and Bright: Idaho 7 hazy pale ale stood out as our favourite beers. Super smooth and refreshing.
The food at Bright Eye is delicious. We loved their Nashville Hot Chicken Drums and Spicy Chicken Sandwich, which are both truly authentic to the Hot Chicken in Nashville.
Hotel – Sandman Signature Kamloops
The Sandman Signature Kamloops hotel is where you need to be. It is an elegant building in the heart of downtown Kamloops. It faces Riverside Park and the Thompson River and is situated directly across the street from Sandman Centre, home of the Kamloops Blazers.
They have all the amenities you are looking for – Jacuzzi suites, an indoor swimming pool and hot tub and large gym.
Evening – Explore Downtown Kamloops
The Back Alley Art Mural Tour features 31 diverse art murals as a part of an eclectic collection along the back alleys in Downtown Kamloops. You will find all types of different artistic styles in this outdoor art gallery.
Scoopz Ice Cream is the best ice cream parlour in Kamloops. It is conveniently located in the Sandman Signature Hotel and across from Riverside Park.
Riverside Park is located steps away from the downtown core and runs along the Thompson River. It’s a beautifully manicured park where you can enjoy the beach, the picnic area, playground, tennis and splash pad. If you are lucky, you can catch the “Music in the Park” held nightly throughout the summer at the Rotary Bandshell.
Day 4 – Kamloops and Surroundings
Breakfast at The Art We Are Cafe
Situated right in downtown Kamloops, this is the cutest cafe around. The Art We Are Cafe is a small business that supports other small businesses. They do their best to source their ingredients from other local and BC based businesses. It all comes together to make a menu full of fresh, healthy and flavourful food.
And they are more than just a cafe. They also have live music most Saturdays, local art displayed all around the store, and other events like open mic nights, fundraisers, art shows, and speaker series.
We love that their coffee is made with a french press (our preferred coffee brewing method) and they give you the entire french press to take to your table. They have amazing chocolate haystacks – just like Momma makes.
Hike up Battle Bluff
The hike up Battle Bluff was definitely a highlight of our Kamloops trip. The Battle Bluff hike is one of the most popular hikes in Kamloops and we totally understand why. The payoff is the breathtaking 360 view of Kamloops city and Kamloops Lake.
This out and back trail is about 5 km, takes about 1.5 hours and is rated moderate difficulty. It is a fairly easy hike until the end which gets quite steep.
The hike has great features. Watch out for two old rusted cars, a memorial at the top with a guestbook you can sign, look for the trains below passing along Kamloops lake and travelling through carved out tunnels, and keep your eyes open for bighorn sheep.
Lunch at Iron Road Brewing
Iron Road Brewing is a super popular brewery for people of all ages. They have a very welcoming and comfortable tasting room that also serves up an amazing Mexican-themed menu.
The name of the brewery is an homage to the busy railroad that passes through Kamloops. Some of their core beers even have train-themed names.
We fell in love with the Handcar ISA. It is aromatic, super flavourful and has a subtle fruitiness.
The Mexican food here is delicious and creates the perfect light snacks to accompany a mid-day beer. Our favourite was the Carnitas Baja Taco with hot banana peppers and Baja chipotle sauce.
Explore Bruker Marina at Kamloops Lake
Bruker Marina is on Kamloops Lake and situated right beside BC’s #1 golf course, Tobiano. The marina offers boat moorage, a public boat launch and a beach area. You can also hire boat charters, get motorsport lessons, and find rentals for boats, Seadoos, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Kamloops Lake is a gorgeous warm-water lake and you can spend a whole day here enjoying it.
Stop in for a Beer at Red Collar Brewing
Brewmaster, David Beardsell, has a long history of brewing in Kamloops dating back to the 1990s. He actually opened the city’s first microbrewery. He has now opened Red Collar Brewing in downtown Kamloops.
Red Collar has an 80-seat tasting room and a big, beautiful outdoor patio space. The craft beer list is large, diverse and had some of our favourite beers of the whole trip.
We were pleasantly surprised by the Blonde – a medium-bodied ale with a crisp, dry finish. It had more flavour than a regular blonde yet was still light and refreshing.
The Impeachment Peach Witbier was another favourite of ours. Everything you crave from a white, cloudy beer with a hint of peach.
Dinner at The Noble Pig Brewhouse
You know as soon as you walk in that The Noble Pig Brewhouse is a local favourite. It is vibrant, modern and popular. The restaurant and outdoor “Piggy Patio” are enormous and allow for lots of fun to be had.
They say it best, and The Noble Pig truly is “The marriage between beautiful food and unique beer“. This brewpub has incredible house-made beers and a delectable food menu using only the best ingredients.
Beer and Food Highlights:
One of their 3 core beers, the Straw House is a traditional German lager which we thought was the perfect balance between crisp and bitter.
One of their seasonal brews is a Grapefruit Radler. Not too sweet and it made for the perfect refreshing drink at the end of a hot day.
Everything we ordered o! the food menu was killer. The Intergalactic Pretzels were so incredibly soft and buttery. The Rosemary & Garlic Dry Ribs were meaty, crispy and super flavourful. And the Pad Thai was better than any we’ve had from any Thai restaurant.
Hotel – Sandman Signature Kamloops for a second night.
Day 5 – Leaving the BC Craft Beer Triangle
Breakfast at the Red Beard Cafe
The Red Beard Cafe is the perfect Sunday brunch spot. They have a huge variety of “from scratch” food items and even make their own breads and pastries.
The cafe is also open late and becomes a taphouse featuring 18 taps of rotating Kamloops and BC craft beer and cider.
A must-try is the cafes homemade bagels with butter and jam. The bagels are fresh, soft and chewy.
Landsdowne Liquor Store
Before you head home, make sure to stop by the Landsdowne Liquor Store to grab all of your favourite local brews from this BC craft beer triangle. They have the largest craft beer selection in Kamloops and even stock some seasonal beers!
Know before you go
As you plan a late summer holiday or long weekend on the BC Ale Trail, make sure to look up important information about the area you’re visiting and check on cancellation policies. Practice safe and respectful travelling as you explore the communities in our wild backyard that are open to visitors and make sure to be a considerate craft beer consumer while you’re out and about.