Hastings-Sunrise has long been an afterthought for Vancouver’s thirsty and hungry. While long-term tenants such as Tacofino, Campagnolo Roma, and Bistro Wagon Rouge have been bringing diners out east for a while, the area has, of late, become home to a newly sprouted crop of breweries and distilleries that are helping sweeten the deal. And now, the branded “East Village” has created a new “passport” program to propel the adventurous taster east of Main Street. Nine craft beer and spirit companies have come together to make up the East Village Brewery and Distillery Self Guided Tour, complete with stamp-approved passports to verify the experience.
What’s up for exploration? Tap favourite Parallel 49 Brewing Company on Triumph and Victoria is expanding its tasting room with a new space and restaurant slated for opening April 2017. There, Vancouver classics such as Jerkface 9000 will be available for easy sipping. Try also the seductive Gypsy Tears red ale, in all its dry and bitter glory. The brews are to be tasted alongside a new menu that will feature tacos made with hand-pressed tortillas (is there any other way?) as well as burgers on a get-them-while-you-can basis.
Nearby, a relative newcomer, Doan’s Craft Brewing Company on Powell Street, is serving up takes on old-world classics like kolsch and altbier—brews with German heritage but updated with Vancouver quirks, such as labels rendered by the city’s own Ola Volo, and vegan or vegetarian fare to pair—an East Van fusion, if you will.
Next up is Hasting-Sunrise’s most distinguished spirit-maker, Odd Society Spirits. With a plethora of hard liquors made on-site on Powell, such as the Wallflower Gin and the quintessential East Van Vodka, the distillery has expanded its options to more unique concoctions like Bittersweet Vermouth and the must-try Mia Amato Amaro—to be thought of as a local alternative to Fernet Blanc. Superb before or after a meal.
Storm Brewing, on Commercial Drive, has made a name for itself with its fruit-centric beers. The Pineapple Paradise Pilsner is an almost radler—juicy and supple—while still maintaining a five per cent alcohol content. It works perfectly as a partner for meals—a bright ceviche, perhaps? Grab a growler to go and get to work on your home raw bar.
Powell Street Craft Brewery is another recognizable tap pull. The company has been around since 2012, and built its reputation on specialized options. That legacy is easily seen in its expansive listings: pale ale, citra pale ale, hazy-style IPA, hop-centric IPA. The sun-lit tasting room is quaint (read: small) but homey. Don’t be a stranger: cozy up on the couch.
Then there is Franklin Street’s Callister Brewing Company, which offers its own line as well as guest taps from more nano-breweries in the city. Callister’s Resolution Dark Saison is worth a sip, as are options from Boombox Brewing and Real Cask.