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Granville Island Brewing is the Westside's original craft brewer. (Wikipedia/Roland Tanglao photo)

Westside hops to the craft beer beat

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The crisp days of autumn are here. While many people associate a cold beer with summer’s heat, there’s something to be said for the darker ales as the leaves start falling. Craft brewers are already rolling out barrels made with the bounty of B.C.’s hopyards, just in time for Oktoberfest celebrations and its own made-in-B.C. manifestation, B.C. Craft Beer Month.

Vancouver’s dry Westside

Craft brewers have largely ignored Vancouver Westside real estate, however.

While there’s a lively craft beer scene in Mount Pleasant and the neighbourhoods around Commercial Drive, the helpful map at GrowlerFill.ca shows just one Westside craft brewery – Granville Island Brewing.

Now part of international beer giant Molson Coors, Granville Island was one of the province’s original craft breweries. It continues to produce small batches of seasonal beers. A central location on Granville Island makes it the perfect place for a refreshing pint while cycling Kitsilano’s Seawall.

Not far away, at the east end of Granville Island, is Dockside Brewing Co. Hidden within Granville Island Hotel, it quietly brews beers for the hotel’s restaurant and lounge. Well before the current craze for incorporating strange ingredients, it broke ground with a hibiscus-flavoured Jamaican lager. You can’t fill your growler here, but you can satisfy your curiosity.

Suds to the west

Nevertheless, the best place to get a taste of local microbrews west of Cambie Street is one of the area’s several pubs. Top dog among them is Darby’s Neighboudhood Pub, which quickly became a Kitsilano institution when it opened in 1981. Today, it features a sampling of craft beers from around the city and across the continent. They’re available both on tap and through its liquor store.

Further west, in the heart of UBC’s Wesbrook Village development, is Biercraft. It has two other locations in Vancouver and offers an upscale pub experience. The bar serves up more than 30 local and international beers. This is craft beer with cosmopolitan cachet, a counterpoint to the mix of minimalism, post-industrial chic and salvaged wood that characterizes the city’s Eastside beer scene.

Find a favourite

Personally, I like to make the rounds. One of the things that makes Vancouver, and places like Point Grey and Kitsilano great, is the diversity of locally owned nightspots. Many have worked hard to build their reputations, and be distinctive parts of their communities. It’s good to have favourites, but it’s also good to know why it’s your favourite. Taste around, and you’ll find your horizon expand — and maybe even the next beer to take the city by storm.

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