BC Ale Trail
Vancouver Island was already represented with the Victoria Ale Trail. Now with the new Vancouver Island trail, craft beer fans can visit up to 24 small breweries between Victoria and the Comox Valley.
The Vancouver Island Ale Trail is broken up into two itineraries: the first part takes thirsty participants through the Cowichan Valley to Nanaimo, with eight breweries stretching from farm to sea.
Part two, which BCAleTrail.ca calls “the Central Island Beer Belt” starts in Nanaimo and extends to the Comox Valley. This part starts in Parksville with Mount Arrowsmith Brewing, then to Qualicum Beach and nanobrewery LoveShack Libations.
If you’re heading to the west coast for a little post-ski surfing session in Tofino, stop first in Port Alberni and explore Twin City Brewing. Opened in 2017 by a Port Alberni couple with a penchant for creative and unusual beer styles, Twin City Brewing just won Best BC Beer of 2018 with its Late Bloomer fruit beer.
The Comox Valley has three stops on the new Vancouver Island Ale Trail: Forbidden Brewing and Gladstone Brewing in Courtenay, and Cumberland Brewing, nestled in the shadow of Mount Washington.
Gladstone Brewing, located in the heart of downtown Courtenay on Fourth Street at Cliffs Avenue, has created a vibe of its own. Based in a one-time car mechanic’s shop, Gladstone embraces its heritage with a tasting room decorated with old car parts and automobile memorabilia.
Gladstone is located next to a taqueria, providing a unique food and brew pairing.
When it opened in 2015 Gladstone produced just enough beer for its own tasting room and patio as well as a few local eateries. After a recent renovation that doubled its space, Gladstone now provides its core lineup and some seasonals across Vancouver Island in four-packs of tall cans.
Gladstone Brewing won a silver medal for best North American Porter and Stout at the 2018 BC Beer Awards in Vancouver last October. More than 100 breweries submitted 1,085 beers for judging in 30 categories in the annual event
Forbidden Brewing, based in the Westerly Hotel in Courtenay, is named for the Forbidden Plateau region of Vancouver Island. This nano-brewery’s tasting room focuses on ultra-local organic beers. You won’t find their unique taste sold anywhere but their tasting room.
Cumberland Brewing opened in 2014 in a small storefront on the Main Street in Cumberland. Since then it’s become a destination brewery.
Its cosy tasting room and sun-drenched patio are draws to residents and tourists alike - a perfect place to end your day of mountain biking at Mount Washington Alpine Resort, or share experiences from the new zip tours that will be opening in summer 2019 at the Resort.
The BC Ale Trail was launched two years ago and already promotes more than 150 craft breweries in 17 Ale Trail itineraries.