Ranking every* brewery in Metro Vancouver


I: Why are you doing this?

Because there are so many breweries in this part of the world now, and some are great and some are good and some should be avoided, but it’s hard to know which is which unless you have damaged your liver are a seasoned expert, and we’d like to share our expertise with you.

Because we all have arguments over which breweries are better in our fair province, and those arguments should happen on the Internet — specifically, my dumb novelty website.

Because the craft beer scene in British Columbia continues to grow and grow, and this project should grow and grow with it.

Because drinking with friends and arguing is fun.

Which is why in 2017, our group of Millennials expanded our list of breweries we reviewed and rated from the original 42 in Metro Vancouver to 77 across southwest B.C., including:

Flickr/Thomas Fisher Library
This would have been a very short article 100 years ago. (Flickr/Thomas Fisher Library)

II: How are things scored?

There’s a way-too-long explanation about this project and the people behind it and the value system and all that jazz on the main landing page for this project, so I’ll try and summarize things quickly.

Each brewery is scored out of 50 points. To be eligible for the list, they need to have been opened by July 1 of the previous year, so the brewery has time to iron out its kinks and we have enough time to visit afterwards (which means Beere in North Vancouver, Mariner in Coquitlam and East Vancouver Brewing Co. in, ahem, East Vancouver aren’t included).

People’s ratings are based on trips to the brewery where tasters are consumed, but can be modified after the fact. The five metrics are:

    • QUALITY — 20 points: how do the beers generally taste? If someone had their growler at a party, but you didn’t know the exact beer, would you mock them? (Under 10 points) Shrug your shoulders? (Exactly 10 points) Be generally positive? (Over 10 points) Endorse their choice? (Over 14 points) Try and steal their growler? (Over 17 points)
    • STANDOUT — 5 points: Do you have a favourite beer from the brewery? Do you think it’s good enough to give it a few bonus points because otherwise the quality is inconsistent? Do you want to knock it down a peg because everything is good but nothing is memorable? Here was the place to do it.
    • DIVERSITY — 10 points: How many selections do they have in the tap room? Most places have a mix of IPAs/lagers/ales, with 2-4 seasonals and signature beers thrown in … how much deviation is there from that?
    • INNOVATION — 5 points: Do they put their own spin on beers? Have they been leaders or followers in local trends? What does the company do that is different (and valuable) than others in the market?
    • EXPERIENCE — 10 points: How did you feel coming away from the tasting room? Was it fun? Had thought been put into the design and overall branding? Was sitting at the bench and enjoying the atmosphere more worthwhile than grabbing a growler (or bottle from the local liquor store) and getting out of there?

Every place has been visited at least four people. Average of everyone’s score is the total. A score below 25 is bad. A score above 32 is good. A score above 36 is very good. A score above 39 is elite.

Overall, our measurements reward breweries that do beers which are both well crafted and relatively unique, breweries that regularly experiment and aren’t stuck in 2013, breweries that provide an interesting experience to a visitor, breweries that seem passionate, first and foremost, about beer.

Which is to say, if you’re the type of person who loves a brewery because it has six things on tap for years and one of them is your all-time favourite and they’re distributed far and wide and they have a great Instagram account, you might disagree with our metrics.

And that’s cool! In which case, we invite you to a) look at how things are ranked on the individual categories, b) come up with your own detailed metric and travel the province with friends to compare each place.

(One of these is a serious suggestion; one is not)

III: Anything else?

Is it subjective? Absolutely. A little silly? By definition. Unfair to rate something based on, in some cases, just one or two experiences? Yep! Are some of the scores in the individual categories objectively wrong? Probably!

But at worse, we think this list is a great argument starter. At worst, we hope it’ll be a decent guide. And if it doesn’t do either…well, we drank (mostly) a lot of tasty beer we otherwise wouldn’t had tried, so we don’t have any regrets.

So without further rambling, here are the ratings of (nearly) every brewery in Metro Vancouver.

(Click on the name to read the individual review)

49 Steel Toad (RIP) 18.8
48 Hastings Mill/Pat’s Pub 20.0
47 Maple Meadows 20.2
46 White Rock Brewing 20.3
45 Dockside 22.3
44 Off The Rail 25.0
43 Big Ridge 25.3
42 Granville Island 25.9
41 Yaletown 26.3
40 Big Rock 27.3
39 Doan’s 27.5
38 Dogwood 27.7
37 Black Kettle 27.8
36 R&B Brewing 28.75
35 Dead Frog 28.8
34 Green Leaf 29.1
33 33 Acres 29.4
32 Parkside 29.9
31 White Rock Beach Beer 30.0
30 Faculty 30.1
29 Red Truck 30.5
28 Postmark 30.8
27 Deep Cove 31.5
26 Andina 31.8
25 Central City 32.09
24 Callister 32.14
23 Hearthstone 32.2
22 Strathcona 32.57
21 Britannia 32.64
20 Steamworks 32.8
19 Moody Ales 32.9
18 Bomber 33.2
17 Luppolo 33.6
16 Ridge Brewing 34.0
15 Bridge Brewing 35.5
14 Storm 36.2
13 Trading Post 36.38
12 Powell Street 36.44
11 Foamers’ Folly 36.5
10 Parallel 49 36.7
9 Steel & Oak 36.79
8 Fuggles & Warlock 36.83
7 Main Street 37.1
6 Dageraad 37.3
5 Yellow Dog 38.1
4  Twin Sails 38.8
3 Four Winds 39.4
2 Strange Fellows 41.3
1 Brassneck 42

Categories: Brewery RankingsTags: , ,


  1. This is amazing thus far. Strongly agree with the vast majority of the comments and ratings thus far – while it’s hard to see a brewery that makes such consistently terrible beer as Parkside or Dogwood place higher than breweries like Doan’s who do pretty good beer, I can’t argue the results when other criteria is considered as per your rating system. Can’t wait to see the upper tier results later this week!

  2. Foley

    Great stuff, I recently did this exercise myself, less the methodology.

    FWIW my top 3 were Yellow Dog, 33 Acres and Four Winds. I get that I like 33 Acres way more than most people, but to rank it below Dead Frog and Red Truck is downright bizarre.

    • Justin McElroy

      Yeah, below Dead Frog and Red Truck seems to have rankled a few people. If there was a larger pool of rankers, that likely wouldn’t have happened, but preferences among a small sample size are what they are — and visits to Red Truck/Dead Frog revealed they were better than we remembered them being in university.

  3. Moses

    Thanks for doing this Justin! This was the best internet reading I’ve had in months. I agree with most of your group’s picks, and I was sure Brassneck and 4 Winds had to be 1-2. I’ve also discovered some new breweries to try, especially Foamers Folly.

  4. malkinson

    I’ve been to all the breweries on the list, and the ones in Vancouver many times, and my list would look pretty close to this one. As with others, I’d put 33 Acres quite a bit higher, and Main Street lower. I also think Storm should be lower. It’s a unique and rather hilarious place, and we still always stop there on beer bike tours, but the beer is really pretty bad when it comes down to it. But anyway, good project and list, cheers!

    • whatevs

      “…we only wanted to include breweries fundamentally associated with a unique Vancouver brand, which meant yay for Granville Island and nay for Big Rock.”

  5. Mauricio

    There is a 43rd brewery (brew pub, or brewery & hotel) you might be missing called Dockside Brewing on Granville Island. It could be a good contender for your 43rd spot.

  6. Mike H

    I would agree with this list for the most part (especially God Tier and lower tiers), but am surprised Twin Sails isn’t higher. Those guys are slaying it.

  7. Bill Kilner

    Regardless of ranking I’m just glad that there are breweries out there trying to make flavourful beers. I invite any regular consumer of Bud, Coors, Molson and Labatt’s to step off the well-travelled road and explore. Sure, you’ll come across clunkers from time to time. But one day you will come across a beer that you’ll love. It’s almost a religious experience. Glad to see my fav Yellow Dog near the top. I’ve enjoyed their dog-themed brews for several years. Shop (and drink) locally.

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