It’s no secret that Vancouver is exploding with craft breweries. Tourists have another reason to visit this fabulous city, and locals can can visit the many brew-masters creating tasty beverages close to home.
What may not be as noticeable is how the city’s bike culture has been growing along with the craft beer industry.
When the founders of Bomber Brewing were searching for a site, location was less important than finding a large building with enough power to run a brewery. That they found all they needed on Adanac Street — right on one of Vancouver’s busiest bikeways — was a “delightful happenstance,” according to operations manager, Rachaal Steele.
Accidental or not, Bomber Brewing has tapped the location for its passing cyclists.
“After 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, this place becomes a bike-o-rama,” said Steele, “and we are packed with people stopping in on their way home from work for a pint or to fill up growlers to go.”
Bomber’s ownership and staff includes cyclists, one who had the completely random thought to add the now widely celebrated “Free
Air” pump near the front door.
A second brewery has since opened across the street, and Off The Rail Brewing also draws a crowd of cyclists.
Both breweries have made creative use of cycling culture and bike parts. Off The Rail makes a Psyclepath Lager and Derailer Pale Ale. Bomber, located where Adanac intersects with the Mosaic bike route, honours the location with a Bike Route Best Bitter. They promote it as beer to bring people together: “A cyclist travels north on the Mosaic bike route while another heads east on the Adanac Bikeway. They plan to meet where the bike routes cross.”
Parking became a priority at Bomber since their singular bike rack was frequently teeming with bikes, leaving other customers resorted to locking up on street posts, fencing and other bikes.
“As soon as we opened, we applied to the city of Vancouver for one of their racks. While city staff were as helpful as they could be, they were bogged down with more requests than they could accommodate, so we resolved to put in one ourselves,” said Steele.
They have two large racks for customers and a long-term plan could include a bike corral, like many breweries in Portland.
The bike traffic continues once the work week ends, but Steele said it’s a slightly different clientele.
“On the weekend, we see a constant flow of bicycle tour groups,” she said, noting the beer-centric visitors that arrive with Nick Anderson and his Cycle City Tours, which stops at various East Side craft breweries.
“Our location is advantageous,” said Steele. “The bike community here is awesome, and community building is a large part of our attitude at Bomber.”
It is such pride that inspired their aptly named best bitter. Adding one to their beer selection was always a part of the plan, but its identity came from a fortuitous photo of the green Adanac bikeway sign taken by graphic designer, Tucky Alto.
In this city, the marriage of beers and bicycles is a match made in heaven — or a mash tun. From bike route breweries to growler bike caddies, places like Bomber and Off The Rail are drawing the bike-riding masses and building community over pints of bitter.
Melissa Bruntlett lives a life of active transport and is the co-founder of Modacity. Reach her at email@example.com.