Squamish’s best kept secrets – that they kinda want to share
The experiences and places mentioned were visited as part of a media trip. Opinions are my own and all copyright on photos belong to James R.C. Smith.
Nestled amidst the breathtaking landscapes of British Columbia, Squamish has emerged as a hub for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers. But it’s not just the stunning mountains and rugged trails that draw people to this town; it’s also the thriving craft beer scene.
In all honesty, I only really knew Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh) as the Mcdonald’s drive-thru on the way to Whistler. Apparently, it’s the busiest McD’s in North America. But also, the town is full of rich First Nations history and storytelling, and “are you kidding me?!”-level nature.
I went on a plane tour with Sea to Sky Air and a paddle board experience with Norm Hann Expeditions aka Coastal Stoke SUP, in which I combined a graceful form of kneeling and criss-cross-applesauce paddling. Standing would have resulted in a refreshing dip that I was happy to avoid after an insufficient amount of chugged coffee.
My geographic ignorance was really shining when we were in the air with Captain David Eastwood as he showed me a whole new world, like his Aladdin to my Princess Jasmin. There were lakes, mountain peaks, a snowy A-frame climber’s cabin, and glaciers that are gonna make Instagram feed look like I know what I’m doing.
I also have to give a very thankful shoutout to Blazing Saddles e-bike tour. Fun, educational, easy. The battery-powered bikes take away any worries about fitness level or my concerns about peddling with a dodgy knee. Just press the ‘assist’ button and off you go.
Let’s check out three of Squamish’s top breweries – Backcountry Brewing, A-Frame Brewing Company, and Howe Sound Brewing. Oh, and a distillery.
Backcountry Brewing, aptly named for its location in the heart of Squamish’s outdoor playground, has gained a reputation for both its exceptional brews and its adventurous spirit. Founded in 2017 by a group of friends passionate about craft beer, this brewery has become a local favorite and a must-visit for tourists.
One of Backcountry Brewing’s standout offerings is their “Trailbreaker Pale Ale.” This refreshing and hoppy beer is the perfect companion after a day of hiking or biking in the nearby trails. If you’re into hazy IPAs, don’t miss their “Widowmaker IPA,” which boasts a harmonious blend of tropical fruit flavors.
The brewery’s inviting taproom features a cozy atmosphere where visitors can savor their beers alongside delectable pizzas and other tasty bites. The combination of great beer and a welcoming ambiance makes Backcountry Brewing an essential stop for any Squamish beer tour.
A-Frame Brewing Company, with its unique triangular building design, is a true Squamish gem. Located in the Garibaldi Highlands, this brewery opened its doors in 2016 and has since been crafting exceptional beers that capture the essence of the surrounding natural beauty.
One of A-Frame’s flagship brews is the “Hefeweizen,” a traditional German wheat beer with notes of banana and clove. For those who appreciate a rich and robust brew, the “Blackout Stout” offers a delightful combination of roasted coffee and chocolate flavors.
The brewery’s spacious patio and welcoming staff create an ideal setting to enjoy a leisurely afternoon of beer tasting. With its focus on community and sustainability, A-Frame Brewing Company has not only become a beloved local spot but also a testament to Squamish’s commitment to environmental stewardship.
Howe Sound Brewing is a pioneer in Squamish’s craft beer scene, having opened its doors in 1996. Situated in a charming historical building, the brewery boasts a cozy pub-style atmosphere that draws both locals and tourists seeking a taste of Squamish’s brewing heritage.
The Hazy Daze is refreshing, and light, but has enough flavour to be interesting, while not being so complicated that it won’t accompany a tasty burger or fried pickles in the restaurant.
Beyond its excellent beer selection, Howe Sound Brewing is known for its commitment to sustainability. The brewery utilizes a heat recovery system and solar panels to reduce its environmental impact, a testament to Squamish’s green ethos.
My cup of tea right here. The RainCity Distillery in Squamish is a hidden gem amidst the stunning natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Nestled in the heart of this picturesque coastal town, the distillery is a testament to the region’s commitment to craft spirits. Situated against the backdrop of towering mountains and nestled along the shores of the Howe Sound, RainCity Distillery’s location is nothing short of breathtaking.
What sets RainCity Distillery apart is its dedication to creating spirits that encapsulate the essence of the local environment. They source their grains, botanicals, and water from the surrounding region, infusing their products with the unique terroir of Squamish. This commitment to authenticity is evident in every sip, making each bottle a true reflection of the area’s natural beauty and character.
As I write this, I’m trying all the gin, and the Iron Buddha is infused with TieGuanYin oolong tea and is subtle and very sippable. Another winner is the Barrel Aged Gin, with an oakiness from the whiskey barrels it’s stored in. The last standout is the Ginseng Rye Old Fashioned (cocktail in a bottle). Spicy, earthy, a twist on my favourite cocktail.
Oh, before I keep going, the DUMPLINGS. The food items on the menu are simple, but kinda complex in their balance. They source the Chinese dumplings from Vancouver and steam them fresh, served with sauces made in-house. While they’re traditionally a breakfast item, they absolutely complement the lovingly created cocktails and craft spirits.
The distillery offers guided tours that take visitors behind the scenes, allowing them to witness the craftsmanship and attention to detail that goes into every batch. The tasting room, with its warm and welcoming atmosphere, provides a space to savor their spirits.