Beer is Serious Business

A tour of North Vancouver’s brewery district

Ma Lomelino (she/they) // Contributor
Valentina Kruglikovskaya // Illustrator

Two things are true about the North Shore. The first is that it will probably be raining, and the second is that you can find amazing breweries there, especially in the Lower Lonsdale region.

East Esplanade Street alone is home to no less than five breweries, a cidery, and a distillery. Around the neighbourhood you can find enough breweries for any taste, be it the flavour, the price or the vibe. 

For the sake of reliability, I took upon myself the arduous task of revisiting the Brewery District of North Vancouver to bring you my favourite breweries in the region.

La Cerveceria Astilleros – 226 Esplanade E, North Vancouver

The first brewery on our list is also the first one you find coming from Lonsdale Quay and walking along East Esplanade: the Mexican-inspired La Cervecería Astilleros. With cute yet minimalist Mexican-style decoration, La Cervecería Astilleros is home to delicious beer and food. On a wet Saturday night, all nine indoor tables, and the outside covered patio were quite full. 

Order a soft-shell taco or a plate of fresh nachos with guac and pico de gallo; the beers on tap also have Mexican or Latin inspiration and change seasonally. The most popular beer is the Salted Lime Lager, described as the “original beer that started it all”, a classic Mexican Cerveza with Spanish salt and fresh Mexican limes. New on the tap menu is the Mexican Red Pilsner. 

On the day I visited, I opted to try their Sangria Sour (a sour is a beer made with the incorporation of living bacteria instead of the traditional yeast, to achieve a tart, sour taste). It was definitely a tart drink, even for a sour lover such as myself. You can find a pint for $8, and a flight goes for $12; tacos are $4.95 each.

Braggot Brewing – 102-370 Esplanade E, North Vancouver

A little bit further down the same street, you will find a gem in the North Shore Brewery District. Braggot is a non-conventional brewery, with dim light and medieval-inspired decorations and ambiance. They serve “the oldest alcoholic beverage,” a mix of beer and mead made with grains and honey. The tap menu is relatively compact, and the rotation is not seasonal but by the batch. Each batch can be slightly different depending on the honey used or the time of the year. 

Braggot is definitely worth the trip. Their big communal table, resembling a tavern, is a great place to interact with other beer lovers like Hannah Denevers. 26-year-old Denevers was brewery hopping with a friend when I spoke with her, (yes, the region has so many breweries close to one another that brewery hopping is a thing). Denevers recently discovered a love for beer, and according to her the best thing about the North Van breweries is that they are less crowded than the downtown Vancouver ones, and that the overall climate is way better and more friendly. She says Vancouver is more suitable for clubbing but prefers the North Shore for beer. I couldn’t agree more.

At Braggot, I recommend trying their flight ($10 for 4 x 4oz drinks) so you can taste all the delicious variations. If you think a flight is too much, try the Amber Stone, a dark red beer that is creamy and delicious. 

Black Kettle Brewing Company – 720 Copping St, North Vancouver

If you are around the Shipyards and fancy a light walk, take the Spirit Trail from Waterfront Park to Mosquito Creek, where you can find one of the oldest breweries in the region. Black Kettle has been around for almost ten years and has the classic brewery feel and look. Big production tanks, plenty of seating, a screen for watching the game, and even a foosball table. The place also accepts pets on the outside patio.  

With sixteen different types of beer on the tap menu, Black Kettle is the brewery with the most options. The menu changes seasonally, and the most popular beer among regulars is the Pete’s Creek ($7.5 for 20oz), a crisp lager as classic as the brewery itself.  My hot tip here is to try the food, especially the poutine and the burgers; the Drunken Kettle Smash ($14.50) is definitely my favourite. 

Streetcar Brewing – 123A 1st St E, North Vancouver

A little further up on Lonsdale and East 1st St is a brewery that has a special place in my heart, as it was the first one I went to when I moved to Canada. Streetcar Brewery is Lower Lonsdale in a nutshell, the typical neighbourhood brewery we all wish was just around the corner. Their small batch production ensures the tap menu changes weekly. 

Streetcar has a small patio space with fire pits where pets are welcome, and their partnership with the fried chicken and donut shop next door (Cream Pony) guarantees your drinks will be accompanied by a great snack. Nothing beats a delicious beer and crunchy chicken nuggets on a Monday night. 

Among the staples on the menu are the Lolo Lager and the Peach Radler, a drink that is half beer and half peach juice. 

If you are a beer drinker, you should absolutely visit the North Van Brewing District, and if you do, let us know some of your favourite spots. Cheers.

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