Beer tourists drink to Vancouver's microbrewery boom
Microbreweries like Brassneck and 33 Acres are bringing influx of tourists to B.C.
While wine tourism has long been established in the Okanagan, officials say the boom of microbreweries in the Lower Mainland has led to a huge influx of beer tourists.
Locals may still be the target market, but more and more people from outside B.C.and Canada are taking advantage of the small batch, seasonal brews being produced.
Co-owner Nigel Springthorpe says that cluster seems to be attracting those looking for beer neighbourhoods.
"You get a lot of beer travellers coming through Vancouver, believe it or not. People who plan their vacation around where to get a good beer," he said.
"I think it gives people a real focus. If you decide on some breweries to hit up, you've got a loose agenda for your days, for your vacation."
They're seeing the same thing over at 33 Acres Brewing, at 8th Avenue and Ontario Street, where co-owner Josh Michnik says beer tourism is a huge part of his business.
"We get people coming from all over the U.S. and different parts of B.C. and different parts of Canada ...and drinking our beer and wanting to check out new styles of beer."
There are now more than two dozen microbreweries scattered around the Lower Mainland — demand has been so high, two tour companies are offering chauffeured microbrewery tours.
Changes to provincial and municipal laws last year have also helped, allowing craft breweries to open lounges or tasting rooms that act much like a pub.
Sona Purhar with Tourism Vancouver says the province is becoming a real draw for beer tourism in Western Canada.
"We've been told that Vancouver's beer scene is distinguished, because it is so new and fresh. Brewers are really playing with flavour profiles and playing with fresh and local ingredients," she said.
Officials say beer tourism is clearly a growing industry and they're looking for ways to encourage even more brewery visitors.
In the meantime, microbreweries can look forward to many more happy hours.