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Ale Trail part of Tri-Cities' evolving culinary scene

Taste of Tri-Cities foodie festival involves 76 eateries, promotions for customers
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Sam Payne is a principal at two Port Moody breweries: Parkside Brewery and Rewind Beer Co.

The Tri-Cities area is known to many for its Port Moody Ale Trail — or Brewers Row. But the region boasts a long menu of dining and drinking options beyond craft beer and pub food. 

To encourage people to try restaurants in Port Moody, Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam, the third-annual, 24-day Taste of the Tri-Cities festival runs until March 10.

Organizer and Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce director of strategy Chloe Wan told BIV her festival’s rapid growth symbolizes how much the region’s dining scene is evolving.

Taste of the Tri-Cities launched in 2021 as a small event aimed at helping restaurant owners lure customers for dine-in service, given that COVID-19 restrictions had eased.

The festival grew to include 52 restaurants last year. This year, 76 eateries are taking part: 40 in Coquitlam, 19 in Port Coquitlam and 17 in Port Moody.

“It’s kind of like Dine Out Vancouver but there are different promotions,” Wan said.

Some restaurants offer multi-course, fixed-price deals reminiscent of what is standard at the 19-day Dine Out Vancouver festival —Metro Vancouver’s largest foodie festival, with 389 participating eateries, many of which are in the Tri-Cities.

Restaurant owners participating in Taste of the Tri-Cities offer percentage discounts on orders, or combination deals, such a latte and a sandwich, Wan said. 

The mix of mom-and-pop eateries, chain restaurants and higher-end dining experiences shows the range of dining options in a region best known to many for its cluster of six breweries within about a five-minute walk end-to-end on a stretch of Murray Street in Port Moody. 

The area — colloquially known as Brewers Row or the Ale Trail — started to take shape in 2014 when Yellow Dog Brewing and Moody Ales & Co. opened near each other. 

Twin Sails Brewing arrived in the neighbourhood soon afterward, and Parkside Brewery launched in 2016, Parkside Brewing co-owner Sam Payne told BIV. 

Business was good enough for Payne and his partners to open their second brewery, Rewind Beer Co., in September 2022 after space with the same landlord had become available nearby, he said.

They had been thinking about opening a second brewery for “quite a while,” Payne said, so they decided to act on their plans.

Unlike Parkside, which sells bags of chips but does not have a kitchen, Rewind offers pizza alongside its craft beers, he said. 

Brave Brewing Co., which launched in November, is the newest brewery to open on the strip.

“These clusters of breweries are really positive for all involved,” Payne said.

“There’s strength in numbers. We are great neighbours, and we literally borrow cups of things from each other.”

New condominium developments within walking distance have helped business on the Ale Trail. So has the Evergreen Line rapid-transit service, which launched at the end of 2016.

Payne said some of his customers make a point of visiting multiple breweries in a day, while others like being able to go to the area before making the ultimate decision on which brewery to patronize.

One other option for those in the area is to try Rocky Point Spirits, which opened in the middle of the Ale Trail in late 2020. It touts itself as Port Moody’s first commercial distillery and offers customers its own vodkas, as well as a vodka-based tea, beer and non-alcoholic beverages.

The Ale Trail itself has been such a success that it has prompted small clusters of breweries in other areas in Metro Vancouver, such as North Vancouver and East Vancouver, said B.C. Craft Brewers Guild executive director Ken Beattie. 

“At the beginning, it was very unusual to have breweries clustered, particularly on what I think is only a three-block stretch,” he said. “Now you see municipalities encouraging that. The theory is to create districts and see if it is doable.”

While it is not clear if more entrepreneurs will invest to open breweries or distilleries in the area, about five blocks east of the Ale Trail, along Murray Street, is The One Sixty – Port Moody’s only wine bar, which opened last year.

“It is super nice there,” Wan said of the upscale wine bar. “You can get flights of red wine. They just started doing brunch as well, in addition to lunch and dinner.”

Those who prefer to avoid drinking alcohol could visit another new Tri-Cities business: Port Coquitlam’s Bevees, which opened in late 2023.

It touts itself as the only place where you can sample and buy Metro Vancouver’s largest selection of non-alcoholic beverages.

The non-alcoholic-wine sector has been booming thanks to the trend of non-alcoholic-wine makers using higher-quality grapes and new technology to extract alcohol. 

“Bevees brought in a ton of business from us over the holidays,” said Fiona Hepher, a principal at Vancouver-based non-alcoholic wine distributor Sansorium.

gkorstrom@biv.com

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