They say it’s the journey, not the destination. We like to think it’s a bit of both in the West Kootenays. It’s worth taking the time to slow down and explore our charming mountain and waterfront towns and their independent craft breweries. Each has a unique local story to tell through their signature beers and distinctive taprooms.

Nelson alone is home to three breweries, including one of Canada’s first organic breweries, Nelson Brewing Company. You’ll experience that famous Kootenay hospitality along with fresh, limited-edition craft brews available exclusively in their intimate and welcoming tasting room. Fill your growler, or sample a variety of beers on NBC’s front deck with a curated flight. Ten taps regularly rotate between small-batch brews and their classic lineup, including their signature Bent Pole Organic Northwest IPA. Bursting with citrus and pine hop aromas, it’s a great take on the classic unfiltered IPA style. Enjoy an assortment of snacks in the taproom, including Chez Totoche cured meats, and if you fancy a souvenir, you’ll find plenty of NBC clothing and merchandise.

Backroads Brewing Co. boasts one of the most happening taprooms and patios in the heart of Nelson’s historic Baker Street. The space was designed to evoke a backcountry cabin atmosphere with rustic communal seating and plenty of wood. It’s a lot like hanging out at the ski hill day lodge, where everyone gathers together to celebrate their day on the slopes and swap stories. Don’t miss First Descent Northwest IPA, a classic west coast style IPA for hop fans. It was the very first beer Backroads brewed when they opened in 2017 (hence the name “First Descent”) and it also connects to the community’s passion for skiing and mountain life.

Closer to the water, Torchlight Brewing features an expansive indoor and outdoor space with a creative combination of food and beer. Bring your quarters and loonies for a selection of arcade games, or settle in for a board game over a pint. The pub menu features hearty pretzels, gourmet burgers, down under inspired pies, and other favourites. Their Idyllic BC IPA features a hearty helping of Big C hops – Cascade, Chinook and Cashmere – creating a bold and bright beer. Seasonal ales, guest taps and unique non-alcoholic drinks provide plenty of refreshing options.

An hour north of Nelson lies Kaslo, home to Angry Hen Brewing. It boasts one of the most scenic patios you’ll ever find overlooking Kootenay Lake, the SS Moyie Sternwheeler and the towering Purcell Mountains. With a beer garden feel and eight freshly brewed ales on tap, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a cold drink with a snack or meal from a local eatery. Don’t miss the Wild Rooster, a highly crushable hazy pale ale with loads of hops and a big citrus flavour. Owned and operated 100% by women, this inspiring and driven group have found a recipe for success in the most spectacular of surroundings.

From the alpine to the valley, craft beer flows in Rossland and Trail. The award-winning Rossland Beer Company has been serving up delicious beers to adventurous locals and visitors since 2012. With hints of orange peel, mango and a funky pine aroma, their signature Green Jacket Pale Ale is the ideal apres ski/bike beer. There’s no better place to enjoy it than in their brewery, a local meeting place with welcoming good vibes. It’s the kind of place to tell your story of incredible fresh pow, a missed putt, or how much air was under your bike – in essence, the Rossland lifestyle.

Downhill from Rossland on the banks of the Columbia River is the Trail Beer Refinery. Their modern and inviting taproom is one of the most happening places in the city, and dishes up fantastic food and great beer. Pizzas, handhelds, salads and pub favourite appies pair perfectly with a pint. Named after the town’s slogan from an earlier era, Silver City Lager is a smooth and refreshing lager. Signature vodka drinks like Electric Pizzazz complement their draught taps, ranging from the German style Holy Hefeweizen to the chocolatey Dirty Secret Stout.

If you’re angling for beer, don’t miss Tailout Brewing. The newest brewery in the West Kootenays is located just off the main highway in Castlegar. Their passion for fishing and skiing is reflected in their beers and decor, from fish shaped flights to colourful artwork. The bright interior timbers and woodwork creates a cozy cabin feel that invites guests to relax and enjoy their creative brews. Special releases such as a mocha stout and a blueberry kettle sour complement year-round faves like their Single Spey IPA and Oktoberfest influenced Hook Line & Lager.

You don’t have to go far to find flavourful craft brews in the Koots. Spending a night in our different communities is the best way to savour the local sights and pints safely.