Penticton Microbrewery tour

‘In Canada, it’s beer, hockey, and then everything else’ – Edge

As the latest in a series of spam top notch content from our recent Canadian holiday, it would be churlish of me to write up my Canadian themed posts and not talk about the impromptu microbrewery crawl we found ourselves on in Penticton. Me being the micro pub crawl aficionado that I am, I of course jumped at the chance to take this thing on the road.

Penticton is a city in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, situated between a couple of lakes and is probably best described as the Windermere of Canada for you UK folk. It’s a reasonable sized town with enough to keep you occupied on a couple of sunny days. The day we arrived however, was not a sunny day. It was grey, overcast and you could only just see your hand in front of your face. So we dumped our bags at the hotel and did the typical British thing of asking the only one word question you’re able to answer with the same one word;

Pub? Pub.

Highway 97 brewery

Named after the highway it sits upon this was our first port of call and seemed like the kind of place you see in road trip movies when someone pulls up to a welcoming cosy little pub after driving for hours. Cosy and welcoming it definitely was, although being a Sunday afternoon there was only us and two others in. There was a good selection of craft beers produced on site and I always like a microbrewery where you can actually see the brewing kit, it’s not hidden out the back where god knows goes on. Not being a huge beer drinker, I instantly went for the salted chocolate beer which was nice and did have a hint of salted caramel, although to my untrained pallet, most beers just taste like beer to me. A nice place to hide away from the bad weather though, and the owner was really kind in letting us know that he had some food on the grill for the other patrons (they don’t normally do food on Sundays) should we want any. Which I thought was really kind.

Tin Whistle Brewing Company

Located in what looks like an industrial strip mall away from the main street on Penticton, I didn’t have high hopes for the Tin Whistle after we’d walked 20 minutes to get there in the rain. However, it turned out to probably be one of my favourites of the whole tour. It has a small tasting room which they don’t really advertise or promote, which kind of makes it feel like a secret gang. And you all know how much I like to feel part of something! We were the only ones there when we arrived and felt a little guilty for dragging poor old Steve away from his brewing work to serve us beer. I again went for the ‘girly’ option in the form of the peach ale. Which, to its credit, was surprisingly peachy and not too beery!

What was amazing though was that because we were the only ones there, Steve closed up and treated us to a tour of the whole ‘back office’ which was a total unexpected highlight. It’s such a pleasure hearing people talk abut their work so passionately and seeing the process from grain to bottle in a space smaller than one of my meeting rooms at work was great. It’s the personal touch of places like this that really sell them, and Steve was a true credit to the company.

Cannery Brewing

Despite on first visit I wouldn’t have ranked this place as one of my favourites it was the only place we went back to a second time so that should tell you something! It’s large and warehousey and probably feels most like a micro pub/brewery that you would find at home. By this point I was off the beer and back on the wine where I belong. That said, there was a Canadian wine option which made be feel less like a philistine. It probably had the most in house beer options on offer, and although the brewing room was out the back, you could still see it. It was also the brewery that seemed most prevalent in other local places (pubs and restaurants) so there was no doubting that Cannery were kind of a big deal. You got a little bowl of curried popcorn with your order as well. Nice touch.

The second time we went back was after visiting some of the local wineries the next day (Dave gets a day on the beer, I get a day on the wine, that’s just how we roll) and the post wine munchies meant we were in need of some loaded nachos. Cannery didn’t disappoint. Dave and I shared a huge plate of nachos for only $18 and they were incredible.

In short, come for the beer, stay for the food (and the wine)

Slackwater brewing

Joint favourite for me. Less so for the drinks and more so for the vibe of the place. And I’ve always been someone who loves a vibe (that’s why I love New York so much). It’s got a really cool nautical, beachside, waterside theme with long light wooden benches and lots of aqua and blue splashed around. There wasn’t as many beers on offer as other places, but the menu could be described as small but perfectly formed. Again, there was local wine on the menu which was really smooth and fruity.

Almost the second we arrived the heavens opened so they erected (teehee) a canopy for those sitting outside but the big open front and all the natural light added to the beachy vibe and the rain just made it all the more atmospheric. That’s the problem when you’re on a crawl, when you like somewhere a lot, you rarely stay for more than one because you’ve got to move on. I could have happily stayed for a couple more here.

Bad Tattoo brewing company

I always feel bad for bar 5 of 5 in a pub crawl because you’re usually on your last legs by that point. I did however quite like Bad Tattoo. It was probably the most micro of all the microbreweries in terms of size but had a really nice atmosphere in it. Speaking of things that feel like they’re in a movie, this would be the biker bar that Patrick Swayze would be doorman for and start a fight with a ne’er-do-well who pinched his girlfriend’s bum. And I don’t in any way mean that in a bad way.

Another thing I’m a fan of is a pub were you can sit up at the bar and not feel like you’re in the seat of a local. And that’s what this place is. It was really welcoming, we chatted happily with the barmaid while we had our final drinks. They also have an open stone pizza oven behind the bar which made the place smell incredible. The pizzas also looked pretty good too!

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