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Finding Liquid Gold on the Gold Rush Trail

By Tia Davison

If there’s anything longer than this province’s gold rush history, it’s our list of exceptional craft breweries and wineries. When the gold prospectors, miners and settlers rushed to this region beginning in the 1850s, their watering holes undoubtedly looked quite different than the ones we visit today, but the act of sharing stories and laughs whilst enjoying a beer, wine or cider hasn’t changed. This region’s unique mix of landscapes and climates can largely be thanked for the vast variety of boozy beverages we get to enjoy. Even though the majority of us that travel the Gold Rush Trail now are not prospecting for gold, we are often searching for wholesome experiences and local tastes, and just like the gold in centuries past, the Gold Rush Trail offers it in plenty! 

Stretching from New Westminster to Barkerville, here’s a sippable 12-pack list of some of our favourite breweries and wineries, including some new ones that opened in 2020. Cheers!

Know before you go: Many businesses are open seasonally and hours are subject to change. Additionally, opening dates and hours may be affected by COVID-19. Please be sure to check online or call before visiting to ensure availability.

LEG 1 – NEW WESTMINSTER TO HOPE

1. Another Beer Co., New Westminster

Since the late 1800s, New Westminster has been a hub for beer brewing thanks to large draught companies like Labatt. Now that these large plants have mostly moved on, the craft beer industry has taken on its role of providing the bustling beer scene here. Opened in 2019, Another Beer Co. is dedicated to providing cool vibes and an ever-changing lineup of delicious brews. With an open-concept, warehouse-style taproom and modest patio, Another Beer Co. is not just another brewery… despite the name.

Other honourable mentions in New Westminster include Steel & Oak Brewing Co. and Pacific Breeze Winery.

Another Beer Co. | @anotherbeerco

2. Smugglers Trail Caskworks, Langley

If you’re a fan of the moody Pacific Northwest style or brewery names with a story, Smugglers Trail Caskworks in Langley is for you. Inspired by the stories of smugglers that travelled this route during the gold rush, this brewery features award-winning beers with gold rush-era related names such as Black Gold and Wedgehead. Whether you’re visiting for the history or just the tasty brews, bites and beguiling atmosphere, Smugglers Trail Caskworks is a must-visit!

Other honourable mentions in Langley include Camp Beer Co., Trading Post Brewing Company, Dead Frog Brewery, Farm Country Brewing and Five Roads Brewing Co.

3. Field House Brewing, Abbotsford

With two locations (the second being in Chilliwack), you know Field House Brewing has got to be good. Maybe it’s their warm and cozy tasting room that has people raving about it, or perhaps it’s their yummy canteen comfort foods? While those most definitely play a factor, we’d have to say their 3000-square-foot Beer Lawn is what keeps us coming back year after year. With an outdoor stage and lots of community music events , plus delicious beers that explore every style, make sure to add Field House to your list if you haven’t already been!

Other honourable mentions in Abbotsford include Ripples Estate Winery (they make blueberry wines!), Singletree Winery, Old Abbey Ales and Ravens Brewing Company.

Field House Brewing | BC Ale Trail

4. Farmhouse Brewing Co., Chilliwack

Established in 2020, Farmhouse Brewing Co. truly embodies the concept of farm to glass. Located on 11.5 acres of land in the gorgeous countryside of Chilliwack, they even grow their own barley on-site. Along with a solid lineup of core beers, they have an elegant tasting room, heated patio and large outdoor picnic area complete with fire pits. While you can obviously visit in any weather, Farmhouse Brewing is a dreamy place to visit on a sunshiny day.

5. Whispering Horse Winery, Chilliwack/Yarrow

Like many of the businesses in the area, the name of Whispering Horse Winery was inspired by the history of the land. Initially a working ranch owned by the current owners’ grandparents, this family-owned boutique winery is built within the existing walls of their beautiful old riding arena. Along with a feel-good history and country charm, the winery specializes in sparkling wines, as well as crisp, aromatic whites and rosés. They use 100% estate-grown grapes and traditional methods like hand-labelling and corking their bottles to provide a vineyard to bottle experience.

Other Chilliwack honourable mentions include Old Yale Brewing, Bricklayer Brewing, and Field House Brewing’s second location.

Whispering Horse Winery | Destination BC/Hubert Kang

6. Foamer’s Folly Brewing Co., Pitt Meadows

Located on the Highway 7 route of Leg 1, Foamers Folly Brewing Co. is found in the quaint city of Pitt Meadows. Despite being the only brewery found here, don’t be folly (see what we did there?) and skip it as it’s one of the most adventurous breweries on the BC Ale Trail. This establishment features over 20 rotating taps, yummy food and many different canned and bottled beers to take home. With loads of board games, a spacious patio and fun beer names like Yada Yada and Dad Beer, Foamer’s Folly Brewing Co. is also must-visit!

Other honourable mentions along Highway 7 include Silver Valley Brewing, Maple Meadows Brewing Co. and Ridge Brewing Company all in Maple Ridge.

LEG 2 – HOPE TO LYTTON

7. Mountainview Brewing Co., Hope

This brand new brewery opened at the end of 2020, but it hasn’t taken them long to become a staple in the town of Hope. Mountainview Brewing Co.’s modern and industrial style taproom sits perfectly juxtaposed against the natural surrounding mountains. And that’s not their only connection to the mountains –  all of their beers are brewed with fresh mountain water. Whether you’re a local or just passing through on your Gold Rush Trail road-trip, support this new local business and stop in for a beer, merch and one of their signature pretzels.

LEG 3 – LYTTON TO HISTORIC HAT CREEK

8. Fort Berens, Lillooet

Founded in 2009, Fort Berens Estate Winery is a true pioneering story. After moving from the Netherlands to fulfill their dream of opening a winery in Canada, the owners fell in love with the Lillooet valley for its rugged and raw landscape. Despite the lack of grapes here when they made the move, today they have 38 acres of vineyards and a spectacular winery facility to showcase their award-winning wines. Enjoy their scenic patio with a local farm-to-table menu in the summertime or visit their tasting room year-round. To learn more, watch our The story of Fort Berens Estate Winery Gold Rush Trail storyteller episode.

Fort Berens | Eco Escape Travel

9. Cliff & Gorge, Lillooet

Just over 20 minutes from Lillooet, hidden between, you guessed it – cliffs and gorges, rests Cliff & Gorge Vineyards. This winery offers completely natural and unadulterated wines, meaning that they let the land decide and alter the fantastic flavours and aromas you’ll experience. Loved for their incredible service, try a picnic-style tasting on their beautiful property amidst the valley.

LEG 6 – HISTORIC HAT CREEK TO 150 MILE HOUSE

10. Jackson’s Brewhouse, 100 Mile House

While the breweries do get a bit more sparse out this way, the quality doesn’t thanks to Jackson’s Social Club & Brewhouse in 100 Mile House. With funky decor including a retro car that doubles as a bar, this relaxed tasting room and restaurant is perfect if you’re travelling through the area or staying directly in town. In terms of drinks, they offer delicious small-batch craft beer, along with BC wines, cider and house-roasted coffee.

LEG 7 – 150 MILE HOUSE TO BARKERVILLE HISTORIC TOWN & PARK

11. Fox Mountain Brewing Co., Williams Lake

If you’re looking for craft beer brewed in the heart of Cariboo Country, Fox Mountain Brewing Co. is the place for you. Opened in June of 2020, this newly renovated brewery features a laid back west coast design and a spacious patio. With German-influenced beers and a mostly Mexican inspired cuisine, this new Williams Lake watering hole is a must-stop if you’re in the area.

Fox Mountain Brewing Co. | Eco Escape Travel

12. Barkerville Brewing Co., Quesnel

With its name inspiration coming from Barkerville Historic Town & Park and the area’s legendary gold prospector, Billy Barker, Barkerville Brewing Co. in Quesnel is well worth the drive north. An entirely gold rush-themed brewery, from the decor to the beer names and even the local ingredients, this brewery not only provides visitors with yummy beer and a welcoming atmosphere, but it also gives a taste of this region’s gold rush history. Their liquid gold even won two golds and a bronze at the 2016 B.C. Beer Awards.

Barkerville Brewing Co. | Eco Escape Travel

So there you have it, a 12-pack of liquid gold stops to add to your Gold Rush Trail road trip. Plan your trip at goldrushtrail.ca/journey and add these to your checklist!