Enjoying a picnic outside is one of the great pleasures of summer — even more so if you are able to include a craft beer or two in the picnic basket.
People who have travelled in Europe may have had the experience of enjoying wine or beer as part of a picnic in a public space like a park or city square. Here in British Columbia, however, this is typically only permitted at campsites. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some municipalities have decided to allow for the consumption of alcohol in certain public places — including parks and beaches — recognizing that there are fewer indoor options available with reduced restaurant and brewery tasting room capacities. Many craft breweries in BC also have outdoor picnic areas, and either offer their own food for sale along with their beer or encourage folks to bring their own food.
Celebrating the summer picnic season, here are several excellent picnic options on the BC Ale Trail.
The beaches and waterfront parks along the Okanagan Lake waterfront are some of the great pleasures of Penticton life so when Penticton City Council voted to allow alcohol consumption there, many locals and potential visitors rejoiced. The beach is within walking distance of a few of the city’s breweries, including Bad Tattoo Brewing, Cannery Brewing and Slackwater Brewing. Recently, Penticton also expanded this to include Skaha Lake Beach.
For more information, check out the Penticton Ale Trail.
The City of North Vancouver passed a bylaw allowing alcohol consumption at specific public locations as part of their commitment to make life in the City during COVID-19 a little easier. The locations include several parks, the civic plaza, Cates Deck by Lonsdale Quay, home to Green Leaf Brewing, and Shipbuilders Square in the Shipyards district close to where several new breweries have recently opened: Streetcar Brewing, North Point Brewing, House of Funk Brewing, and Beere Brewing.
For more information, check out the Vancouver’s North Shore Ale Trail.
Victoria’s Historic Market Square
While public alcohol consumption is still not allowed in Victoria, a dual initiative by tenants of historic Market Square has turned much of the inner courtyard area there into an ideal urban picnic-with-beer spot. Resident brewery Whistle Buoy Brewing already had a small patio there, which it was allowed to expand under COVID-19 provisions. You are allowed to bring your own food or order it from one of the nearby restaurants, including Green Cuisine, which has been serving up vegetarian fare there for as long as there have been vegetarians (or just about).
At the same time, the Drake Eatery & Craft Beer Parlour has opened a Beer Garden to augment its taproom and outdoor patio on the second floor above. You can’t bring in your own food because of licensing rules, but you can order food from the Drake’s kitchen delivered directly to your table. Life is good!
Whistle Buoy Brewing can be found on the Victoria Ale Trail.
Port Moody’s Brewers Row
The five breweries on Brewers Row in Port Moody all have patio spaces and they all welcome patrons to bring food with them or order it from food trucks, which tend to park right in front of the breweries for obvious reasons. The breweries all face Rocky Point Park along the shore of the Burrard Inlet so you can plan a hike or kayaking adventure while enjoying your picnic meal and sipping a beer. Brewer Row includes: The Bakery Brewing, Moody Ales, Parkside Brewery, Twin Sails Brewing, and Yellow Dog Brewing.
For more information, check out the Port Moody Ale Trail.
The Fraser Valley is agricultural heaven, and several of the breweries there have ideal outdoor spaces that are perfect for picnicking. It’s hard to beat Field House Brewing’s Beer Lawn out front of their Abbotsford brewery, and Old Yale Brewing in Chilliwack also has a big new Front Porch space along with its Campfire Kitchen in a converted Airstream Trailer.
For more information, visit the Fraser Valley Ale Trail.
Farm-based Persephone Brewing has a fantastic space for picnicking, including wooden benches, tables, and grassy areas where you can spread a blanket. Bring your own food or enjoy something from the Farmhand Food Truck.
For more information, visit the Sunshine Coast Ale Trail.
The City of Port Coquitlam has also launched a pilot project allowing public consumption of alcohol in certain parks, so grab some beer from your favourite nearby brewery (there are several great options in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge).
The liquor consumption in parks pilot has been approved, with 22 designated sites in #Vancouver. The Board has directed staff to apply for licences to allow concessions located near pilot sites to sell beer, cider, and coolers, providing there are no additional legal liabilities. pic.twitter.com/3bz7DZeRm5
— Vancouver Park Board (@ParkBoard) July 28, 2020
The Vancouver Park Board recently voted to allow alcohol consumption in 10 parks around the city, but it is waiting for approval from the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch to allow for concessions to be located near the sites to sell beer, cider, and coolers. We assume that these concessions will focus on selling locally produced craft products, but in any case, there are lots of craft breweries in Vancouver close to the park sites where you can pick up something to enjoy with a picnic once this is approved (hopefully by mid-August).
Learn more about Vancouver’s breweries on the Vancouver Ale Trail.
Throughout British Columbia, many craft breweries have been allowed to expand their patio spaces or open new patios so that customers can stay outside. So check with your local brewery about their food options or to see if they are okay with you bringing your own food. Presto: a patio picnic!
BC Ale Trail App
Don’t forget to download the free BC Ale Trail app before you go! Check-in at each brewery you visit to collect points and earn rewards (at participating locations). You’ll also find a selection of liquor stores, taphouses and visitor centres in the app.
Know before you go
As you start to plan your summer and fall vacations on the BC Ale Trail, make sure to look up important information about the area and check on cancellation policies. Be safe and respectful as you explore our wild backyard.
Some important links:
This summer, explore your local breweries and you’ll find “New Experiences are Brewing Nearby!”