It’s finally here: camping season! Prince George and the surrounding area have no shortage of lakes, campgrounds, forests, and trails, outdoor activities for sun lovers, boat lovers, and all that want to enjoy the beautiful nature to be found in these parts. But that’s not what I want to highlight in this particular post. No. I’m dedicating this one to my fellow beer lovers (with a special nod to winos as well). For, what is camping without a nice, cold brew? I’ll tell you what: unnatural.
As we know, beer is the great equalizer, so if you want to grab a case of Molson and be on your way, there’s no judgement here. But if you’re looking for what I think is a little something special, there are a few breweries to check out.
The big guy
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Pacific Western Brewing has been around since 1957, and for a larger scale company, it has some pretty decent options. They have their staples: the Pacific line – pilsners, lagers – and their Cariboo line which offers a couple of sweeter options with their honey and malt varieties. They also have a couple of small batch offerings, my personal favourite being the Canterbury dark beer.
Crossroads Brewing was the first craft brewery to open in Prince George proper, in 2017, and since then has led the way towards changing how we think about beer and its role in our community. With its downtown location, the brewery is an important partner in the organization of several street festivals throughout the summer, as well as a constant venue for live music, showcasing local talent. They also offer delicious pizza, which I can’t recommend enough, especially when paired with their Cloud 9 witbier. You can also get their brews to go, in growlers or cans.
The one by the scrap yard
Trench Brewing & Distilling opened its doors only a little over a year ago, but in this short time has already established itself as a pillar in the community. The venue is in a bit of a strange spot, on the edge of downtown, in a more industrial area, but once you step inside you feel instantly at home. They also really understand what it means to have a ‘watering hole’, not just for the drinks, but for the company. They constantly play host to different events which are always a lot of fun. Live music and trivia nights are classic favourites, but there are also boardgame nights, movie nights, and different group craft workshops organized throughout the month – where else can you go to drink beer and plant cacti? All activities, of course, doused in delicious libations. Definitely try their Pine Pass Pale Ale, the new 1000 Peaks Witbier, and the Pickers Hut Cider which they have as a guest tap; and always keep an eye out for new offerings, which are always creative and surprising. Just two days ago I tried a new-ish one, the Bijoux Single Hop, which blew my mind. And for those on their way to the lake, there are growlers and cans available.
Out and about
I do not have enough good things to say about Valemount, even though I only spent a short time there. The town and surrounding mountains are beautiful, and the fact that there is a craft brewery right there is a bonus. The Xtra Pale Ale and Unkindness Oatmeal Stout are a must.
Quesnel is another nearby place worth checking out, with a stop at Barkerville Brewing, of course. I recommend the tour, if you’re at all interested in the behind the scenes of beer-making, and definitely end it with the Hound of Barkerville brown ale.
No one said you can’t take wine on a boat
For those of you who are not beer fans, fear not: there is also locally made, delicious, delicious wine. Yes, yes, the Okanagan gets all the attention when it comes to wine-making, but Northern Lights Estate Winery is an absolutely fantastic option. No, it’s not hot enough for grapes here, but luckily, berry and fruit wines are a thing. Northern Lights is a beautiful venue on the river, with gorgeous outside seating overlooking their berry patches and orchard, a mouth-watering menu and wonderful drinks. Seduction, their strawberry rhubarb wine will…well…seduce you. The pear wine is quite unique, and if you like dessert wines, the Raspberry Indulgence is a treat.
Embrace the cliche: those lazy, hazy, days of summer are coming, and they are the time to make memories that will last a lifetime. Slow down, spend time outdoors – whether it’s on a mountain or on a patio – and really appreciate what a gift it is to be in a beautiful place, in good company, with a delicious drink in your hand.