Squamish has come of age in the craft beer world and is now set to become a BC Ale Trail destination.
For many people, Squamish has long been a refuelling stop on the spectacular Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver to Whistler.
But in recent years, this town of around 20,000 people has repositioned itself as an outdoors destination in its own right. Situated where the river enters the north end of Howe Sound, the area is full of opportunities for mountain biking, climbing, hiking and kiteboarding.
And now, with two breweries recently joining the venerable Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company, Squamish has become a bona fide craft beer destination. This summer, it will take its place as an official BC Ale Trail.
Here’s the scoop on what lies in wait.
Connecting with cabin life at A-Frame Brewing
A-Frame Brewing makes for a homely first stop on the Squamish Ale Trail. The name of the brewery evokes a laid-back, family, cosy atmosphere; what you’d hope to find if you visited a cabin by the lake or in the mountains.
The modest brewery and tasting lounge draws you in with a simple yet familiar aesthetic. Sanded, varnished logs act as both tables and stools, while wood benches are adorned with blankets and cushions, and a beautiful wooden feature wall sports the brewery’s name and logo.
The beers are approachable and also offer seasoned beer drinkers something to enjoy. The most popular styles are the porter and Belgian single, though the taps change seasonally. Expect at least four beers to greet you on any visit.
The tasting room is also kid-friendly, and features a wooden diorama playset handmade by a local toymaker. The scene represents how owners Jeff Oldenborger and Caylin Glazier first met at the lake where both their families had cabins. It’s a nice touch that makes customers feel like a part of their evolving story.
Breaking new ground at Backcountry Brewing
From the cabin to the ski lodge. Just a few minutes’ walk north of A-Frame, Backcountry Brewing seeks to be your apres-everything joint in Squamish.
Set among a tall group of warehouses, Backcountry’s interior offers the feeling of a ski lodge canteen while maintaining a pub atmosphere. The vibe is friendly and sociable.
The spacious lounge is comfortable even when crowded, and offers lots of natural light even on the rainiest days. From the lodge-style washrooms to the long tables and high ceilings, it’s like the slopes are just outside.
From cloudy IPAs to pilsners, there’s a wide range of beer to pair with the brewery’s fresh pizza, which features interesting toppings like pork belly and egg, and mushroom, kale and truffled cream.
Howe Sound Brewing makes for a fitting capstone
Dating back to 1997, Howe Sound Brewing is one of BC’s veteran craft breweries. It’s a fitting end to any journey on the Squamish Ale Trail — not least because you can spend the night here in one of the inn’s reasonably priced rooms.
Whether you choose the pub or restaurant, you’ll get access to around a dozen of Howe Sound’s beers, including some of the brewery’s more exclusive selections. Many of the dishes on the extensive food menu use the brewery’s beer as an ingredient.
In warmer weather, the patio offers great views of the Stawamus Chief’s rock face, which towers over the town. On colder days, the grand fireplace is lit inside the pub.
From there, it’s a short hike upstairs to the inn’s cosy rooms.
Squamish has long offered plenty of outdoor activities, adventure sports and wildlife viewing. Its breweries have become the icing on the cake, reinforcing this town’s reputation as one of BC’s must-visit destinations.