Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve had the chance to explore a lot of that region on family trips and recently with my podcast. However, I have mostly stuck close to the 49th parallel so I was very excited to be given the chance to go and explore Northern British Columbia earlier this year just as summer was turning to fall.
I flew into Prince George and went and checked out Trench Brewing. The tasting room was a very roomy space and yet comfortable like you’re in a friend’s cabin. The range of beers they are producing are really top notch and rotate through when they can. After that, I stopped by CrossRoads Brewing for dinner and had one of their excellent pizzas… while tasting a few of their brews of course.
The following day I headed down to Quesnel to check out Barkerville Brewing Co. I’ve been a fan of their beers since they opened so it was pretty exciting to finally visit their tasting room. I spoke with brewer Erin Dale, who will be on an upcoming episode of the podcast in December. After trying their excellent beers direct from the source I walked around and checked out the town.
The journey then led me to Smithers. The drive up was great. I was visiting around the beginning of September and the leaves had just started to change and the colours through the hills and valleys made my journey a very pleasant sight. Smithers has seen the opening of not one but two breweries recently.
I first spoke with Smithers Brewing Company. They are constantly changing things up when it comes to the beers they produce. Cameron McKeigan got his start as a brewer at Wheelhouse in Prince Rupert, but was presented with this opportunity to create his own thing. Here’s the podcast of our conversation.
Next, I headed over to Buckley Valley Brewing. This is a smaller space with a real mountain theme to it. You wouldn’t feel odd thinking you just came off a ski run and ended up in a hut. These guys are making beer on Wheelhouse’s old system, which really just shows that communities in the North really do a lot to help and support each other.
The final leg of my journey first took me to Terrace which is home to Sherwood Mountain Brewhouse, who focus on making traditional German-style beers — very fitting with the surrounding landscape to enjoy while sitting out on their patio. I ended the day at the end of the road for me… Prince Rupert. I was very excited to make it to the legendary Wheelhouse Brewing Company. Just a stone’s throw away from the waterfront, there is always something excellent to try there.
This being my first time in the North, I was glad to the BC Ale Trail made it easy for me to find the breweries along the way. It was a whirlwind trip, but I am already looking forward to going back and checking out more that the area has to offer.
Aaron Johnson produces monthly BC Ale Trail podcasts as part of his Cascadian Beer Podcast series.