British Columbia has been experiencing something of a craft beer boom over the last five years or so but somewhere this is particularly apparent is in Penticton in the southern Okanagan.
For a relatively small town home to around 35k people, Penticton actually has an awful lot of breweries. The number is currently six, with another due to open soon (summer 2020).
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Penticton’s reputation as a wine mecca is becoming better established by the day, and yet the brewery scene still remains fairly undiscovered. Except by us locals, of course. We know have something special and I’m about to share the important details with you. Here’s everything you need to know about Penticton’s breweries for your own self-guided tour.
Bad Tattoo brewing company
Sitting just a block away from Okanagan Lake, Bad Tattoo is in a prime Penticton location. The building is stunning too, with a smart wooden frontage, large covered patio and airy tasting lounge.
Tall windows allow a glimpse into the warehouse and beer tanks. OK, so it’s a pretty good looking place to drink. But how’s the beer?
Out of all Penticton’s breweries, Bad Tattoo’s beers have a little more edge. Yes, they have IPAs and Pale Ale, but they also have Belgian style ales and strong German lagers (bock style). Passionate, imaginative and maybe slightly crazy, Bad Tattoo’s brewers seem proud of being a slightly different.
The names of the beers (Tramp Stamp, Midnight Hopmare) undoubtedly reflect the fun the brewers have creating them.
Offering more of a sit-down restaurant-style tasting room than most of Penticton’s breweries, Bad Tattoo approaches their food offerings a bit like they do with their beer.
Pizza toppings range from the traditional (“Simple Pleasures” – tomato, basil, mozzarella) to the more unusual (“Spanakopizza” – spinach, olives, feta, tzatziki) and then the downright weird (“Baba’s Za” – cheddar pierogi and sausage with maple-bacon jam).
The menu refreshes with new topping choices a few times a year but my all time favourite seems to be a mainstay – “Black and Blue” made with local blue cheese, apples and blackberry jam.
Essential details: Flights and pints available plus growlers (2l), howlers (1l) fills. And pizza, of course.
Address: 169 Estabook Ave, Penticton, V2A 1G2
Cannery Brewing is my favourite of Penticton’s breweries by far. Their industrial style taproom is also my preferred place to drink for two main reasons. First, they have an extensive selection of beers ranging from the fresh and light Lakeboat Lager to the rich and dark classic Naramata Nutbrown.
The Cannery will sometimes have as many as 13 of their beers on tap at any one time; almost everyone can find something they like here (my personal pick is the Apricot Wheat Ale). Most Fridays there will also be an ExBEERimental beer on tap to try.
The second top reason to drink here – bar service! Order at the bar, open a tab, pick up your drinks, sit and relax. With no hassling from servers, the taproom has a wonderfully chilled atmosphere.
Choose a board game to play or have a go at bar billiards; the Cannery Brewing taproom is a great place to unwind and escape inclement weather. They have a patio too for those sunny afternoons (expansion coming in 2020!)
Food-wise, try the Sante Fe nachos. Covered generously with jalapeno and pepper drizzle plus cheese, corn and black beans, these nachos are quite simply the best in town. The pretzel bombs (homemade pretzel balls with melted cheese inside) also go down well.
Essential details: Flights and pints available plus growlers and howler fills to take away. Appetisers.
Address: 198 Ellis St, Penticton, V2A 4L5
Highway 97 Brewery
Highway 97 is quickly finding its feet and developing more flavours and styles seemingly every week. Their beer is created with high quality, all-natural ingredients as sourced as close to the brewhouse as possible. Each batch of beer is small in order to maintain a premium production and taste.
The smart looking tasting room is on the smaller side too, sharing space with the fermenting tanks. This up-close look at the brewing process demystifies the beer a little and emphasises that real local feel. Located directly on Highway 97 (who would have guessed?!), the brewery also has a patio.
A great place to visit if you prefer darker beers (try the British style Smoked Chocolate Porter if you can) as there are a number of solid stout and porter options.
Highway 97 also takes advantage of the wonderful local produce in the valley with both peach and apricot Hefeweizens previously on offer. The cost of growler fills at Highway 97 is higher than the other Penticton breweries but as mentioned, the aim is for a premium product and this comes with a higher price tag.
Essential details: Flights and beer available plus growler and howler fills to take away. Bar snacks, some appetizers.
Address: 954 Eckhardt Ave, Penticton, V2A 2C1
Slackwater Brewing is the newest kid on the brewery block in Penticton, opening in 2019. Located on one of the most central corners in the downtown area, this brewery is sure to be the centre of attention in summer.
The large two floor building used to be home to the (slightly seedy) Mule Club, but it would be hard to guess! With an airy, casual yet smart atmosphere and bright finish, Slackwater is clean, modern and inviting. Two patios offer a chance to get some sun.
There are twelve beers on draught at any one time, with two guest taps. Describing their beers as ‘approachable,’ the wide selection offers a little something for everyone. While I have enjoyed every beer I’ve tried so far, I haven’t found one that stands above the others yet. I’m sure I will, with a little more hands on research!
Slackwater Brewing has two particularly awesome unique selling points over the other Penticton breweries – daily happy hour (3-6pm, selected beers) and Wednesday trivia nights! If live music is more your jam, check the events page.
Essential details: Flights and beer available plus growler, howler and crowler (single cans) fills to take away. Lunch and dinner menu, with sharers, burgers, soup and salads.
Address: 218 Martin St, Penticton, V2A 5K3
Tin Whistle Brewing Company
The oldest craft brewery in Penticton, Tin Whistle has been producing beer for over twenty years. Pioneers of the now trendy craft beer movement, the same family still owns and runs this independent brewing company.
The brewery is named after one of the locomotives on Penticton’s defunct Kettle Valley Railway. Located in the heritage Cannery Trade Centre, the Tin Whistle tasting room offers a more rustic experience than the others in town. There are limited tables but it is usually pretty quiet. It definitely has the most local feel of all the breweries.
The Tin Whistle team clearly take inspiration from local flavours and produce for their beer. My top pick, the Peach Cream Ale, literally tastes like a Penticton summer in a bottle.
And it’s not just inspiration they use from the valley. The brewers combine honey from Keremeos with chocolate and coffee to produce the rich Killer Bee dark ale.
Tin Whistle moved into the premises left by Cannery Brewing when they moved to Ellis St in 2015. Not too long after, Highway 97 Brewery was established in Tin Whistle’s old Eckhardt Ave building. So all three breweries are intrinsically connected by location!
Essential details: Flights and beer available plus growler and howler fills to take away. No food.
Address: 112-1475 Fairview Rd (in the Cannery Trade Centre), Penticton, V2A 7W5
Barley Mill Pub
The Barley Mill is a large brewpub located towards the Skaha Lake side of town. The distinctive British Tudor style building contains a pub, beer/wine store, patio and a family-friendly bistro upstairs.
They also make their own handcrafted ales and lager at the small on-site brewery. Sticking mainly to lighter, easy drinking beers, the Barley Mill also has an English Brown Ale, IPA and Stout on offer.
If you’re looking for a place to watch a sports game with a plate of wings and locally brewed beer, the Barley Mill is the perfect spot!
Essential details: Flights and beer available plus growler fills to take away. Full restaurant menu.
Address: 2460 Skaha Lake Rd, Penticton, V2A 6E8
Neither of the recommendations below is a brewery but are my top pick for places that serve local beer alongside other local tipples. They are a good add-on to any tour of Penticton’s breweries.
The Station Public House
With gastropub vibes and a great patio, the Station Public House is one of my top spots for a sit-down meal in Penticton. It’s casual enough to be relaxed but is smart enough for a business lunch or special occasion.
The reason I mention the Station is their continued support of Penticton’s breweries and BC’s craft beer scene in general. Their full restaurant menu is accompanied by a decently sized BC wine and beer list.
Essential details: BC wine and beer available by the glass, some on tap.
Address: 1070 Eckhardt Avenue, Penticton, V2A 2C3
For a more casual eating experience, check out Patio Burger. Right on the shore of Okanagan Lake, the views are gorgeous and there are a number of local beers available to drink alongside handmade burgers.
Looking to book a stay in Penticton?
Penticton Lakeside Resort – Awesome lakefront location on north side of town, within walking distance to beach, shops, entertainment, restaurants, trails
E’Laysa Guesthouse and Vineyard Retreat – Gorgeous property on the Naramata Bench, very close to the KVR Trail. A full breakfast is included with every stay
Casa Grande Inn – Highly rated B&B situated across from Okanagan Lake with large outdoor patio
For more great things to do in Penticton, read these articles next:
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