We had the joy of being invited on a blogger beer tour with Vine&hops Wine and Craft Beer Tours. We’d never been on a formal craft beer tour so it was pretty exciting to get the “tourist” treatment. Vine&hops specializes in both public and private tours of either breweries or wineries. It’s a pretty awesome bonus to be able to visit several breweries and not have to worry about the driving aspect! They’ll pick you up at a prearranged location and drive you to everything! We’re big fans of designated drivers :). Our tour took us to four breweries in the Lower Mainland: The new R&B Brewing, Dogwood Brewing, the soon-to-open Fuggles and Warlock, and Four Winds. Let’s break down our adventure for you!
Shawna: The first words out of my mouth when we walked into the new R&B space were “whoooa”. The new taproom is an eclectic mix of refurbished items, reclaimed items, and books galore! It’s basically the cool basement everyone wanted to hang out in the 70s. There’s an entire wall of old timey speakers and they all work! There’s also something oddly comforting about books organized by colour. The space is quite large and is definitely going to be accommodating to a busy crowd. There will be a great selection of food to go along with an extensive tap list, including guest taps, and casks! They’re due to open any day so keep your eyes on R&B’s social media for when you get check it out too!
Chere: My first thought was, “Wow. This is totally different than any other tasting room in Vancouver.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the others are bad or ugly…but these guys took it in another direction. It’s comfortable but has clean lines, it’s colorful without being garish, it’s homey but everything is in it’s place. It looked like the coolest rec-room to ever have been created; funky and minimalist but comfortable and fun. I was particularly drawn to the little coffee tables made from reclaimed floor boards that was inspired by Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek. Another equally cool thing is the cushioned hearth that wraps around the stove is from the acclaimed Sylvia Hotel and was made in the late 1880’s in London, England! And if all that’s not neat enough, the amazing little library was all purchased from local Salvation Army stores. How’s that for giving back to the community? It’s little things like this that bring an amazing charm to this room that I found refreshing. I’m super excited about the food because it includes pretzels and dip! I’m always on a quest to find great snacking pretzels and after pizza, they’re my very accompaniment to beer. Bonus: 17 seat patio and a yarn bomb. Yes, really.
Shawna: I’ve visited Dogwood several times since it’s opened, but I’d never been on the full tour! So it was very exciting to see the layout of the brewing space. I had no idea organic malts cost so much money. Definitely gives you a new appreciation for the hard work that goes into organics. Dogwood added a pizza station a few months ago and I finally had a chance to try them on this tour! YUM is probably the best way to sum it up. How can you go wrong with fresh, organic ingredients and delicious beer? They have both meat and vegetarian options, and that fact that it’s made to order just adds to the yum factor. I’m really looking forward to the next time I can get down there and order a whole one for myself 😉
Chere: Like Shawna I’ve been here several times, but it was a different experience this time with a full tour (and a rowdy tour!). I’ve always been a fan of their tasting room because it’s a wide open space full of light. I love the fact it has a lovely little bar to sit at as well as the recent addition of a table and stools made from a gorgeous reclaimed barrel. It’s truly a work of art. Of course as a vegetarian, I was over the moon to see a pizza station installed. They’re served on wooden planks, a nice big oval size that was ample to share and oozing with cheese and fresh ingredients. I enjoyed a simple margarita pizza with fresh basil leaves (herbs are growing in the window here!) and a yummy blend of cheeses. Pair this with Vancouver’s ONLY organic beer brewed by one kick-ass female brewer & crew and it’s pretty awesome experience. Bonus: Sunlight hits the tasting room in the afternoon.
Shawna: I’ve been waiting for this brewery to open for the past two years. Mixing beer with video games is my jam! The tasting room is outfitted with two arcade systems for guaranteed hours of fun, while on the other side there’s a fireplace with several comfy chairs for relaxation. The brewing space is HUGE, which is good because these guys are going to need to space to grow into. The beer was delicious, and we even got a sample of their new sour! It’s not quite done, but it’s going to be a puckeringly yummy beer. One bonus tidbit we learned on our visit is that they are going to have a patio! So when you need a vitamin D break from your video game marathon, you can relax outside!
Chere: I’m not as familiar with the folks behind this brewery as Shawna is, but I LOVE their beers. Before I even begin on my thoughts on the tasting room I have to say: if you haven’t tried the Last Strawberry Wit beer, do it today. Trust me. Their new space is modern with clean lines and full of fun from the arcade games to the huge screen TV. I was particularly pleased with the bar stools because an average sized person can actually sit on them and fit AND be comfortable. Imagine that? The room is full of little places to hang out in from the bar to the patio, to the comfy little nooks in the corner complete with massive viewing windows into the brewery. Bonus: Note the little details when you stop in- hint, the tap handles…
Shawna: It’s not surprising that the brewing space in Four Winds is squished! Demand for beer from the brewery is high. That’s what you get when you are really good at what you do! We were given the VIP tour and informed that they’re adding on foudres as well! Those are going to help create some exciting beers. Our Four Winds stop was also a chance to try our their new tacos. There are SIX different taco options, 3 meat and 3 veggie. I’ll leave the veggie review for Chere. The meat based ones were so full of flavour and the perfect size! I’ve already been back for seconds! For now they’re only available Monday-Friday from 12-3:30, but there’s plans to expand that.
Chere: Before I even get to the beer (which I’m a huge fan of) I gotta give a shout out to the masterminds and chefs behind those tacos! As a vegetarian I often get left out of the taco loop and it’s a pretty sad thing for me because who doesn’t love tacos? There were 3 veggies options: roasted cauliflower, portobello (but nicely chopped with other mushrooms) and eggplant. None of these disappointed me and I was in a food coma while munching. Four Winds has always been a local fave of mine because of the dedication to a style of beer I truly love- the saison. I don’t think I’ve ever had a so-so beer from these guys; their reputation is stellar and one sip of the beers you can see why. The tasting room was rocking and every seat taken on our visit but Vine & Hops made sure the tour had a space to sit and enjoy. Bonus: 2 bathrooms that are papered with vintage newspapers and I even found a story from near where I grew up on Vancouver Island!
In summation, our day was amazing. Thank so much to the breweries who hosted us and to the amazing people at Vine&hops for bringing us on the tour. We’re wishing we had a need to organize a private tour for a group! As soon as we do, they’re the ones we’re calling (birthday party anyone?)