There are few places in Canada as beautiful as the Okanagan Valley. Pristine lakes, rolling hills and reliable sunny weather all help make it a popular destination for visitors both regional and international. For decades the region has had a larger-than-life reputation for its wineries, but the Okanagan breweries have also been carving out a following in BC’s booming craft beer scene. And you can sample many of those beers at the Great Okanagan Beer Festival May 11-13, 2017 in Kelowna on the shores of Okanagan Lake. With that in mind, here’s our complete guide to Okanagan breweries (and our favourite cideries).
Okanagan Spring Brewery (Vernon)
One B.C.’s original craft breweries, Okanagan Spring retains the same traditions on which it was founded in 1985; traditionally Bavarian with a flavour that’s distinctly BC. The brewmaster Stefan Tobler (son of founder Jakob Tobler) has maintained a strong portfolio of recipes including the Extra Special Pale Ale (now known as Pale Ale), the pure 1516 Lager and contemporary additions such as the BIG WHITE, White IPA, named after the Okanagan’s premier winter playground, Big White Ski Resort.
Must try: Brewmaster’s Black Lager
Big Surf (Kelowna)
Brewing with quality and affordability in mind, Big Surf keeps to what it knows best: good lager at a good price. With a passion for both beer and surf culture, Big Surf sponsors numerous events throughout the province spreading their love for the waves.
Must try: Honey Brown Lager
Bad Tattoo (Penticton)
A relatively new brewery in Penticton, Bad Tattoo has almost garnered as much praise for its pizzas as its great beer (with some sublime pairings of the two). With a handful of home-brewed root beer and apple sodas on the menu for the minors, Bad Tattoo makes for the perfect family venue when staying in Penticton or driving through.
Must try: Midnight Hopmare Black IPA
Cannery Brewing (Penticton)
Keeping to its slogan of “small brewery, big flavour,” Cannery offers a mix of staple brews plus a selection of seasonal limited releases and artisan creations. The taproom features a food pairing menu and live music on Sunday evenings.
Must try: The Muse & The Golden Promise Extra Pale Ale
Tin Whistle – Brewing Co. (Penticton)
Another smaller brewery to round out the town of Penticton, Tin Whistle has remained local since it first opened shop in the late ‘90s. Their beer had been sold mainly within the Okanagan region in the past but with an expanded brewery it can now be found across the province.
Must try: Killer Bee Dark Honey Ale
Red Collar Brewing Co. (Kamloops)
Brewmaster David Beardsell has accumulated a long resume from his years as a brewer, having poured his product in England, India, Western Samoa and British Columbia. Kamloops checked all the boxes when he decided to settle down to brew, most notably the local water source. Being low in dissolved salts and mineralization, the water is perfect for brewing Pilsners and flavorful, well-balanced beers.
Must try: Belgian Dubbel
Crannóg Ales (Sorrento)
Crannóg Ales is Canada’s first certified organic farmhouse microbrewery, producing tasty suds on its 10-acre farm in the Okanagan’s Shushwap region. Crannóg is only available in BC, a limit set by the brewery’s owners in an effort to keep their beer fresh and within driving distance of Sorrento.
Must try: Backhand of God Stout
Mill Creek Brewery (Kelowna)
What goes best with beer? Bowling! Kelowna’s first Micro Brew Pub located in the McCurdy Bowling Centre.
Must try: Channel Cat Pale Ale
Noble Pig Brewhouse (Kamloops)
Located down the street from Red Collar Brewing, Noble Pig has one of the best pub menus in town. And some great beers, too!
Must try: Imperialist Pig IPA
Barley Mill Brew Pub (Penticton)
Cheerful staff, flavorful menu and a great selection of beers. A welcoming atmosphere for hungry and thirsty patrons.
Must try: Mustang Pale Ale
Barley Station Brew Pub (Salmon Arm)
Where the ingredients for the beer are as important as the food. Salmon Arms’ finest.
Must try: Dry Irish Stout with nitrogen
Those looking for a refreshing change from beer in the warm and sunny weather are in luck. Skip the Okanagan breweries and hit the cideries, as this fruit-rich valley has plenty of options for craft cider lovers.
Summerland Heritage Cider Co. (Summerland)
Farm fresh craft cider in five varieties. Summerland Heritage claims its stake as the Okanagan’s first modern craft cidery, founded in 2012. Stop by the tasting room just off Highway 97 and grab a bottle for the road.
Must try: Porter’s Dry
Scenic Road Cider Co. (Kelowna)
Small batch ciders from local orchards. Scenic Road currently makes three varieties of cider available in local liquor stores and a tasting room open during the spring and summer months.
Must try: Razz
Howling Moon Craft Cider (Oliver)
Grown with passion in the finest Okanagan orchards, Howling Moon maintains the old-style traditions of cidering with fresh pressed dessert, heritage and heirloom variety apples.
Must try: Revival
Dominion Cider Co. (Summerland)
Founded by three friends, Dominion Cider is picked, pressed and bottled right on its farm grounds in Summerland. Available at the tasting room and at liquor stores throughout lower BC.
Must try: Ginger Cider
With so many great beverage options available at the various Okanagan breweries, there’s never been a better time to take a road trip through one of Canada’s most picturesque valleys. Or try the gamut of Okanagan beers and ciders on tap in one place at the Great Okanagan Beer Festival. Whichever route you choose, make sure to bring a few bottles home with you!
Beer on the brain? Check out these beer related posts:
- Guide to Great Canadian Beer Festivals
- A Beer Nerd’s Top 5 Whistler Craft Beer Venues
- The Best Lager Cocktails in Whistler
Feature Image: Noble Pig Brewhouse