This weekend John and I were guests of the inn at Howe Sound Brewing. It’s one of BC’s most awarded and decorated microbreweries and is tucked away at the end of Cleveland Street in Squamish.
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Upon arrival we settled into our room, which is one of 20 at the inn, and went downstairs to meet up with Leslie Fenn, Co-Owner of Howe Sound Brewing. She walked us around the building, through the brew house, and told the history of the brewing company, established in 1996.
Brewmaster Franco Corno took us up to the loft where they store and grind the barley for their beers. Franco is the second brewmaster at Howe Sound, the first being John Mitchell who is solely responsible for lobbying (successfully) in the 80s to update BC law, allowing brewpubs to exist in the province. Mitchell went on to open up Spinnakers in Victoria (another one of our favourite brewpubs).
As we wound our way up and down the spiral staircase in the brewhouse we learned about Howe Sound’s brewing process, their local ingredients, and their sustainability. Not only do they make about 20 varieties of tasty beer but they use the spent grain from the process in other products. Spent grain goes into everything from soaps, made locally by Paradise Valley Bath & Body, to flatbread and crispy toppings for desserts.
After the tour we sat down for a round of samples. Little did we know, 8 different beers carefully crafted by Franco and the Howe Sound team would be placed before us. From light to dark we had the Garibali Honey Pale Ale, Hangdog Hefeweizen, Whitecap Wheat Ale, Three Beavers Imperial Red Ale, Rail Ale Nut Brown, and a chocolate porter. Howe Sound beers are unpasteurized, fresh, and the imperial-style brews pack a punch at 7%+ alcohol content.
We stayed for dinner and were treated to dessert which was four types of beer ice cream. The chocolate porter, the wheat ale, the hefeweizen (with a hint of banana in the brew), and an orange sorbet — whose beer equivalent I cannot recall but paired with the chocolate porter ice cream it was to die for.
Our stay overnight at the inn was pleasant. There was no noise from the pub downstairs (which was down the hall and one floor below us) and the room had free WIFI. In fact WIFI is available throughout the entire brewery. In the morning we ate in the restaurant (seperate from the brewpub) and enjoyed the beautiful view of the Stawamus Chief as the sun poured through the dining room’s windows.
Squamish is only about 40 minutes from downtown Vancouver and as Canada’s “outdoor recreation capital” there is plenty to do. A day-trip to the town’s outlying areas (such as Shannon Falls, hiking the Chief or the spit for windsurfing) can be complimented with a little unwinding at the brewery.
You can also make the brewery your destination, signing up for a tour, samples, and staying the night at the inn (rooms are around $109 a night). If you have a designated driver, it’s also a great pit-stop half way to or from Whistler. Off-sales are available for most of their beer as well and a selection of their 1 liter bottles are just $7.
If you would like to try the beer before making the pilgrimage to Squamish, there are a few locations around Vancouver where you can pick up a bottle of Howe Sound Beer including Government Liquor Stores, Liberty Wine Merchants, Steamworks, and various other beer & wine stores.
For more information, news, and updates on the release of seasonal brews (such as the Pumkineater Imperial Pumpkin Ale) follow @HoweSoundBeer on Twitter.