Craft breweries in B.C.’s cottage country

Beer mugs

Supplies from home are always must-pack items when you head to the cottage for the weekend, but with craft breweries and local wineries popping up in every city and small town, you might want to wait until you’re closer to your cottage to stock up on alcohol.

Big city centres like Vancouver and Victoria have gained a lot of recognition for their selection of craft breweries and nanobreweries, and while they are definitely worth stopping at on your way through town, there are several craft breweries much closer to cottage and cabin country.

Craft beers in B.C.’s Kootenay region

If your cabin is in the B.C.’s Kootenays, there are many amazing craft breweries offering a wide variety of beers that reflect their communities. In the East Kootenay, the Fernie Brewing Company has a great selection of delicious beers in various styles.

As with many craft breweries, Fernie Brewing Company’s offerings depend on the season. In the summer, you’ll find lighter fruity, seasonal beers like their What the Huck (a huckleberry wheat ale) or Buck Wild Blonde Ale. Dark beers appear in the winter months, and one of Fernie’s popular picks is the award-winning Sap Sucker Maple Porter.

For cabins on Kootenay Lake (including Nelson, Crawford Bay, the North Shore, Kaslo, the North Arm and Creston) the Nelson Brewing Company has a long history in the craft brewing community and an outstanding reputation. You’ll never see big flashy ads for the Nelson Brewing Company’s beers, but they don’t really need to brag; word of their beers has spread far and wide, and you can even find them in Vancouver restaurants now.

The Nelson Brewing Company specializes in organic beers, and has long been serving a Kootenay take on the styles beer drinkers have come to love. Reflecting the organic product they use, Nelson Brewing Company beers have seasons, and a few of the seasonal favourites include the award-winning Harvest Moon Organic Hemp Ale (a Kolsch-style beer) and their winter favourite, Faceplant (an organic malted barley beer with brown sugar).

Nelson has also been introducing some new flavours, including their BlissTank organic Triple Chocolate Stout; the FullNelson, a hoppy organic imperial ale; and upcoming wheat and pumpkin ales.

Breweries along B.C.’s coast

The B.C. coast offers just as many craft-beer options as the Kootenays, including Powell River’s Townsite Brewing and the Tofino Brewing Company.

Townsite Brewing recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, and in that one year they released a great collection of beers with more slated for the future.

A sunshine coast favourite from Townsite is Zunga (named after Powell River’s term for a rope swing), a golden blonde ale. Like other craft breweries, Townsite offers some great seasonal beers, like their Belgian IPA Shinny Penny. If you stop in at the brewery on your way to the cottage, be sure to also check out all their great beer-related products like soap and barbeque sauce.

As you make your way to Tofino for a weekend of surfing, kayaking, or hiking, make a stop at the Tofino Brewing Company and pick up what has become one of the most popular IPA’s in the craft beer world. The Hoppin’ Cretin IPA is one of the great selections at Tofino Brewing Company. Other favourites include the Tuff Session Ale, the Reign in Blond Ale, and the Fogust Wheat Ale.

Another awesome feature at a lot of B.C.’s craft breweries is the growler program, which allows you to have your own little brown jug to keep refilling at a great price.

West Coast wineries

If you’d prefer a nice bottle of wine instead of beer, Cowichan Valley and the Gulf Islands are home to a great selection of local grown and produced wines.

If you’re looking for a unique, high-quality bottle of sparkling wine or a crisp, refreshing wine for the deck, stop by Zanatta Winery. They specialize in their bruts but if you’re looking for a great wine to serve summer guests pick up a bottle (or a case) of the Damasco. It also goes great with seasonal West Coast seafood.

Because of the unique climate on Vancouver Island and particularly the Cowichan Valley, you won’t see a lot of warmer region wines such as Chardonnays or Merlots, but you’ll get a lot of unique varietals like Ortega. Another great Cowichan Valley winery, which has a beautiful Ortega, is Cherry Point Estate Wines, located on the way down to Cowichan Bay.

Off the beaten path is where some of the best culinary gems are found, so make sure to keep your eyes open as you head to the cottage. You just might find your new favourite craft beer or local wine to enjoy this summer.


Megan Cole is an award-winning Victoria, B.C.–based journalist and freelance writer. She most enjoys writing about food and music, and when she isn’t behind a keyboard or camera, you can find her in the kitchen or at a concert. Visit her other blogs at: victoriaculinaryunderground.wordpress.com or doingsomehotcooking.wordpress.com.