The province wants local residents, neighbours and tourists to raise a glass to craft breweries in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and the rest of B.C.
And to have a sip.
Destination B.C., the tourism arm of the provincial government, has contributed $250,000 to create various ale trails, meant to help market craft beer operations to the rest of Canada and abroad. Local cities chip in $5,000. Local brewers contribute the same amount, combined.
The Maple Ridge ale trail consists of three craft brewers in the city, as well as one in Pitt Meadows and two local pubs that serve craft beer, all with recommended itineraries for guests.
Bob D’Eith, NDP MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission, said the goal of the ale trail is to attract consumers to the area – whether they are camping at Golden Ears Provincial Park, hiking local trails, walking along the dikes, paddling on one of the rivers or peddling the rural back roads – and introduce them to the local craft brew industry.
He thinks visitors, once here, will fall in love with the community and keep coming back.
“That’s the whole idea – getting people here.”
Doing so has a spin-off effect for other local businesses, added D’Eith, who prefers an India Pale Ale.
Local brewers make some “amazing IPAs that I love.”
The first stop on the Maple Ridge ale trail is the Maple Meadows Brewing Co. – a small operation overflowing with craft beer choices.
It was the first microbrewery to open in Maple Ridge in 2015.
Maple Meadows Brewing was founded by local entrepreneur Carlo Baroccio. It has a small, but comfortable tasting room with 10 beers on tap, including two nitro taps for specialty pours, and occasional cask-conditioned beers, as well as red and white wine.
“This truly is a destination brewery since its small capacity does not allow for packaging or off-site sales,” according to B.C. Ale Trail, “so drop by for a tasting flight and a chat with the friendly staff, and bring some growlers along to take some of your favourites home with you afterwards.”
The Ridge Brewing Company is the next stop on the tour.
Local, authentic, and focused on the community, Ridge Brewing opened across the street from Maple Meadows Brewing in 2015, with the intention of creating an authentic local community of craft beer drinkers.
The family-friendly, open-concept tasting room allows patrons to sit inside the working brewery — seeing, hearing, and smelling the brewing process in action while tasting the results.
Ridge Brewing is open seven days a week for tastings, growler fills, and sales of cans of bottles. The first Tuesday evening of every month is Open Mic Night, with local musicians.
Silver Valley Brewing is the third tour stop and is proof that a home brewer’s dream can become a reality.
Co-owner Kevin Fulton got interested in craft beer when he was designing tap handles for local breweries. That led him to begin home-brewing with some friends in a carport on Silver Valley Road.
Fulton and his wife Brandi built a craft brewery focused on their community. Silver Valley’s stylish tasting room features a range of tasty beers along with a food menu and hosts a monthly yoga class.
In Pitt Meadows, Foamers’ Folly Brewing is on the tour.
Pitt Meadows’ sole brewery showcases one of the most diverse beer line-ups on the B.C. Ale Trail.
Its tasting room boasts 20 taps, and the brewers work hard to ensure that new beers are being poured all the time.
The brewery also has a large outdoor patio, and offers food such as pizza, along with a family-friendly area and board games. Events include music nights and special beer releases.
Many of the Foamers’ Folly beers are packaged in cans or bottles.
The Black Sheep and Kingfishers pubs are also part of the ale trail experience, D’Eith said.
The B.C. Ale Trail is self-guided, highlighting craft brewery destinations and the natural landscapes that surround them.
John Mitchell and Frank Appleton built the Horseshoe Bay Brewery – Canada’s first microbrewery – in 1982. Now more than 150 breweries dot the B.C. landscape.
B.C. brewers win about one-third of all annual Canadian Brewing Awards even though the province has less than 20 per cent of the country’s breweries and less than 15 per cent of the national population.
“Cheers,” D’Eith said.
• Follow @BCAleTrail.