Tour of the Taps – Comox Valley

Five local brewpubs offer something for everyone

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The Valley offers something for every taste

Gladstone Brewing Company

Grab a crisp sleeve of Belgian Single (owner Daniel Sharratt’s personal homebrewing recipe), then pull up a chair on the outdoor patio at Gladstone.

The corner lot building in downtown Courtenay seems tailor-made for a brewery, with a solid concrete floor and tall ceilings, plus the right dose of industrial décor.

Head brewer Tak Guenette, who’s been with Gladstone almost since the start, keeps their flagship beers, including Belgian Single, Pilsner and Hazy Pale Ale, in the daily mix. He also rotates in seasonally appropriate brews, with a refreshing kölsch in the summer season and Czech dark lager and porter for the colder months.

Ace Brewing Company

Ace is housed in a unique, octagonal, post-and-beam building that was a Toyota dealership in another life. With 180 degrees of floor-to-ceiling windows, afternoon sunlight floods the establishment. Being a former car lot, there’s plenty of parking and also a sun-filled patio. It’s also adjacent to the Courtenay Airpark.

When it comes to beers, Kitty Hawk Cream Ale, a crisp, blonde ale with notes of honey, defines their approach. Owner Kent Landholt likes his beers straight up and uncomplicated.

In other words, if you prefer beers that are like liquified hops, then perhaps Ace is not the place. A wide-ranging menu features everything from seared tuna wrap and to good old beef nachos.

Land & Sea Brewing Company

Jason Walker, general manager and owner, was on a mission when he opened Land & Sea. He wanted to make Comox cool again.

It’s working.

Head brewer Tessa Gabiniewicz is a maestro who has made the brewery’s Glacier Cream Ale and Estuary Session Ale, flavoured with spruce tips, one of the Comox Valley’s favourite brews. The brewery also has a tasty menu that features a classic BLT sandwich and fries – why not?

Patrons are encouraged to leave their cars at home and ride to the brewery. Those who do automatically become members of the ABV (anything but vehicles) Club and are entered into a monthly prize draw. For every entry, the brewery donates a quarter to a select charity.

New Tradition Brewing

This brewery is a family affair. Co-owner Pat Savard is the head brewer, and wife Tammy Blair works the taps and handles the front-end serving staff. Savard’s cousin Ronnie helps scrub tanks, brew beer and serve pints in the cozy tasting room located in the Comox Mall. 

New Tradition’s catchily named beers include Cure for the Common Kölsch, Liquid Tuxedo Dark Ale, Noon Patrol IPA and Ivan’s Red Ale. 

Pair your beverage with an Aussie meat pie, baked fresh in the brewery’s kitchen, and you’ll be set for the day.

At New Tradition, Sunday is the day to nerd out on beer. It’s called “Small Batch Sunday,” a time for staff to get together to experiment with beer recipes.

Cumberland Brewing Company (CBC)

Craft beer and mountain bikers seem to be a marriage made in heaven. Chances are you’ll find a lot of the latter enjoying just as much of the former when you visit CBC.

For every litre sold of Forest Fog, the brewery’s signature American-style wheat ale, CBC donates 25¢ to the Cumberland Community Forest Society. It’s an example of civic pride and community activism that defines Cumberland. There’s even a pay-it-forward board in the CBC bar where you can scribble the name of your helpful neighbour, favourite bike mechanic, or whomever, along with a pre-paid tab.

CBC also has a great menu that includes a sprawling charcuterie plate and the filling muffuletta sandwich.

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