When it comes to voting for the BC Ale Trail’s Best Brewery Experience award, craft beer enthusiasts are spoiled for choice around the province, including in the Kootenays.
The Kootenay Rockies is a vast and wild region of British Columbia dominated by forests, mountains, lakes, rivers, hot springs and waterfalls. It’s a place of rugged natural beauty — its many parks and resorts attract visitors from near and far throughout the year. And it’s also a destination for beer lovers.
Explorers will enjoy visiting up to 15 different breweries situated in more than a dozen different communities. Or if you prefer hunkering down at a campsite or a lakeside cabin for the duration, you’ll likely find a local brewery in the nearest town.
Nelson wins out as the city with the oldest craft brewery in the Kootenays: founded in 1989, Nelson Brewing is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year! It’s joined in Nelson by two other breweries, Torchlight Brewing and Backroads Brewing, so a visit to that picturesque city will certainly be rewarding for beer lovers.
There are several other breweries nearby Nelson, including Kaslo’s Angry Hen Brewing, Erie Creek Brewing in Salmo and Tailout Brewing in Castlegar. Trail and Rossland each has a brewery, too: Rossland Beer Co. and the Trail Beer Refinery.
Follow the Crowsnest Highway (No. 3) east to visit the Kootenays’ newest brewery, Wild North Brewing in Creston. Not far from there is the Fisher Peak Brewing at the Heid-Out restaurant in Cranbrook and Over Time Beer Works in Kimberley. Keep heading east to check out Fernie Brewing, the easternmost brewery in BC.
The rest of the Kootenay Rockies craft breweries are located in communities up on the Trans-Canada Highway. Golden is home to Whitetooth Brewing, a multi-award-winning brewery that’s definitely one to add to your route planner. And Revelstoke has two local breweries — one new and one old: Mt. Begbie Brewing is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year while Rumpus Beer Co. is just two years old.
It’s tough to pick a favourite among all of these interesting breweries. Some offer longevity, which certainly gives them a strong connection to their towns, but at the same time, many of the newer breweries are acting as trailblazers, bringing craft beer to communities that were sadly lacking before those businesses opened. Of course, all of these breweries are strong supporters of their local economies: hiring local folks, buying local products and working with local tradespeople and suppliers. So it’s a win-win situation all round.
To vote for the brewery you think should win the award, visit the WestCoastTraveller.com and look for Craft Beer Enthusiasts under Contests.