Ranking every* brewery in the Sea-to-Sky/Sunshine Coast

I: Why are you doing this?

You know what was fun last year? Ranking every brewery in Metro Vancouver.

You know what’s more fun? Expanding this silly project to all of southwestern British Columbia.


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:

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 the 101 Brewhouse in Gibsons isn’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 by 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?

1. Townsite is not part of this ranking because a) it’s not part of the Sunshine Coast Regional District, b) you can’t (really) get to Townsite and back from Vancouver in a day, and so it’s weird to compare it to the rest of these.

2. While it’s fun to debate how Good or Bad these rankings are, we hope the capsules provided give a sense to the beer enthusiast what each brewery is about, and encourages you to explore the area on your next daytrip to Whistler/Squamish/Gibsons. For areas that aren’t incredibly populated, there are plenty of options, and many of them are good: 5 of the top 35 in southwest B.C., to be precise.

Alright, enough yammering. You’re here to read our considered opinions after hours of drinking and anguished arguing, and yell on the internet that we’re wrong. Here are all the breweries of the Sea to Sky/Sunshine Coast area, ranked from bottom to top.

8 High Mountain Brewing 22.4
7 A-Frame 25.88
6 Whistler 29.5
5 Howe Sound 32.8
4 Gibsons Tapworks 33.25
3 Coast Mountain 36
2 Backcountry 38.4
1 Persephone 38.42

Categories: Brewery Rankings, FeaturesTags: , , , , , , , , ,


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