When it comes to voting for the BC Ale Trail’s Best Brewery Experience award, craft beer enthusiasts are spoiled for choice around the province, including in Northern BC.
Although most of BC’s residents live “down south” within a few hours of the U.S. border, the province extends more than 2,000 kilometres north. With majestic scenery and abundant natural beauty, exploring this picturesque region is perfectly suited for those who enjoy epic road trips — especially when the reward at the end of a long day of driving is a craft brewery serving up delicious beer.
From Prince Rupert on the west coast, connected to Vancouver Island by the BC Ferries Inside Passage route, across the province to Valemount near Jasper on the Alberta border, and northeast up to Fort St. John in the Peace Country, 12 craft breweries await discovery on the Northern BC Ale Trail, each one celebrating local history, geography and culture in its own unique way.
The western leg of the Northern BC Ale Trail begins in Prince Rupert where the nautically themed Wheelhouse Brewing embraces that community’s connection to the ocean. In nearby Terrace, Sherwood Mountain Brewhouse’s patio is always packed with folks enjoying that inland community’s abundance of sunshine. Smithers, a few hours east, has two craft breweries, Bulkley Valley Brewery and Smithers Brewing, both of which embrace the region’s many outdoor activities: skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and fishing.
Then there is Ursa Minor Brewing, which is based on Little Bear Ranch, a 540-acre cattle farm about 100km south of Burns Lake. This side trip involves crossing François Lake by ferry and driving on some dirt roads so be sure to plan ahead and check the brewery’s hours.
Prince George is the largest city in Northern BC, so it makes sense that all the northern breweries converge there annually for the Kiwanis AleFest. P.G. is also home to Crossroads Brewing & Distillery and Trench Brewing & Distilling, and there’s even a third brewery in the works there.
The eastern leg of the Northern BC Ale Trail starts in Fort St. John where you can taste the range of beers available at Beard’s Brewing and Mighty Peace Brewing, both of which love working with local farmers to include local ingredients in their recipes.
Then return south to visit Barkerville Brewing on the Gold Rush Trail in Quesnel — the brewery is named for the historic town nearby where you can see what life was like during the Gold Rush. All I know is it’s definitely better with craft beer!
Next is Fox Mountain Brewing in Williams Lake, a great spot for both food and beer. Finally, head east to Valemount, home of Three Ranges Brewing, a pioneer operation that helped bring awareness of craft beer to the North and has been slaking the thirst of local residents for several years already.
To vote for the brewery you think should win the award, visit the WestCoastTraveller.com and look for Craft Beer Enthusiasts under Contests.