British Columbia

North Vancouver gets its own brewery district — and it's changing the neighbourhood

Opening a brewery in the City of North Vancouver got a lot easier this year, thanks to bylaw changes, and several small businesses were quick to jump on board — making 2019 the year of beer in the city.

2019 was the year of beer on the North Shore with multiple new locations opening up

The new brewery district is in Lower Lonsdale, near the waterfront, and home to several new businesses. (Beere Brewing Company/Facebook)

Opening a brewery in the City of North Vancouver got a lot easier this year, thanks to bylaw changes, and several small businesses were quick to jump on board — making 2019 the year of beer in the city. 

Council voted in April to rewrite the zoning bylaws allowing for breweries to open lounges in the industrial area east of the Lonsdale Quay. The area quickly expanded to include a handful of different businesses, now dubbed the "Shipyards Brewery District."

"It seems to be booming," says Matt Beere, head brewer and co-founder of Beere Brewing. 

His brewery, the first in the Shipyards Brewery District, opened in October 2017 with a tasting licence. It was a challenge to growing the business because the licence comes with restrictions like only serving taster-size beers and not pints. 

Beere Brewing was one of the businesses that pushed for a bylaw change, allowing breweries to have a full lounge licence in early 2019.

Beere was the first on the block and opened in 2017 with a tasting licence. (Beere Brewing Company/Facebook)

"We had no idea we were creating a brewery district when we first opened because we were the only ones that we knew who were doing it," Beere says. 

Green Leaf Brewing has been nearby since 2013 but is located inside the Lonsdale Quay, walking distance from the new Shipyards Brewery District.

Since Beere Brewing opened, several other breweries have also popped up in the neighbourhood due to the bylaw change around lounge licences.

The industrial land that city staff changed the zoning bylaws for. (City of North Vancouver)

Liam Jeffries, co-owner of North Point Brewing, is the new kid on the block. His brewery opened in December. 

"We walked into it with a much easier process," he says. "The city had already done it three times."

All of the breweries in the area collaborate to create the feel of the neighbourhood. Jeffries says it's similar to other popular craft brewery districts in the Lower Mainland like Port Moody's Brewers Row or East Vancouver's Yeast Van. 

"It's very lively, cool atmosphere and so easily accessible," Jeffries says. "We see it as creating a sort of a hub for everyone. "

North Point Brewing opened in December 2019. (North Point Brewing/Facebook)

So far, there are four breweries in the Shipyards Brewery District and a couple more looking to join — something Beere says is good for business all around. 

"It's a little more incentive if there is more than just one brewery over here, so I think it's a positive thing," he says. "It's nice to see this sort of scene happening on the North Shore."

Gathering places at watering holes

The sudden emergence of a craft brewery scene isn't totally by accident. It's something the city got behind in 2019 as part of a plan to draw people to the area, according to the mayor. 

"That's the whole idea of the Shipyard District for us, it's creating a significant public place for people to gather and connect,"  says Mayor Linda Buchanan. "The brewery district just adds another element to it."

An artist's rendering shows the The Shipyards development on North Vancouver's waterfront. The mayor says the new brewery district is part of a city-wide plan for the area. (Quay Property Management Corp.)

She says the breweries, along with other small businesses like eateries, galleries and shops is part of a city-wide plan to create community gathering spots and more walkable neighbourhoods. 

Brewery crawls and tours are also starting to happen. The first Shipyards Boxing Day Brewery Crawl took place in 2019.

"What I'm hearing a lot from people is that they really love the opportunity to get out and have that really kind of funky vibe within their own home municipality, without having to cross the bridge or the water [into the City of Vancouver] to get to something similar," Buchanan says.