Written by Jody Shakespeare. Jody is a proud owner and operator of The Tapped Truck, a mobile beer serving service with character.
Photos by Beth Quirie, the Okanagan loving blogger behind @exploringtheokanagan.
Autumn might be one of the most beautiful seasons in the Okanagan. And as the weather chills just a smidge, the tourists head home and us locals get to explore! The Fall is ideal for road trips and breweries: nothing captures the season better than local beer and falling leaves. With that in mind, I grabbed Beth and we plotted a path to visit female-led or owned breweries and cideries. We started in Kamloops, continued on to Kelowna, and finished the day in Salmon Arm. We traveled nearly 500km, and did a 12 hour day to showcase beer (and cider) boss babes in the OKV. Ready to join us?
First Stop: The Noble Pig
Address: 650 Victoria Street, Kamloops BC
Owner/Partner: Maeghan Summers
If you live or have visited Kamloops, undoubtedly you have dined at The Noble Pig, a fixture in Kamloops’ thriving brewery scene. Inside you’ll find some of the most engaging staff we met on the road. The interior is cozy: dark leathers, stone finishes and fireplaces…ideal for wrapping oneself around a good dark beer and hanging out with good friends.
Why it’s worth the drive: Both Beth and I often visit The Noble Pig because their food is consistently on point. This is a scratch-made kitchen guys! And while the beer list wasn’t the longest of the day, it had some of the most dynamic and diverse flavour profiles – no matter your fancy, there’ll be something you’ll enjoy here!
Beth’s Pick – The Straw House Munich Helles Lager – Beth described this one as an “everyday drinker,” “smooth”
Jody’s Pick – Rubus the Black – so I don’t normally go for fruit beers but this Blackberry (yes, real blackberries) Farmhouse Ale was not overly fruity and was beautiful to look at.
Second Stop: Rustic Reel Brewing Company
760 Vaughan Avenue, Kelowna BC
Owner: Susie Foerg
Two hours on the road on our Okanagan breweries and cideries adventure and we arrived in Kelowna famished and thirsty! When we arrived at Rustic Reel we were delighted with the light airy design – a dramatic departure from the traditionally more masculine interior design we have come to expect from breweries. We loved the long tables which encourage conversation and were loving the dog-friendly patio.
Why it’s worth the drive: This place is stunning, and no detail has been overlooked. From community rooms for private parties to a large patio with pallet-fencing, Susie has infused rustic elegance into every nook and cranny. And the food? We delighted in a Sausage Flight and the Cheese Spaetzle Skillet – everything was house-made right down to the mustard & pickles!
Beth’s Pick – Blonde Ale – this beer took Beth to floating down the river in Penticton…and who can refuse that kind of nostalgia?
Jody’s Pick – Red IPA – the flavour card describes this one as Big Bold and Malty…I loved the color of this brew and found the flavour profile to be almost nutty. I went home with a growler of this liquid amber.
Third Stop: Copper Brewing
#102, 1851 Kirschner Road, Kelowna
Owner/Partner: Darla Ariss
When we sat down to talk to Susie at Rustic Reel she immediately pointed us to Copper Brewing. And while Darla wasn’t around, we were delighted to add an extra stop to our time in Kelowna. Bonus? Just like The Tapped Truck, Copper Brewing has a Bernese Mountain Dog that plays boss, so it was like we were visiting kindred spirits. Which means, that like Rustic, Copper has a dog-friendly patio so swing by the bar for a free cookie for your furry friends.
Why it’s worth the drive: this place was set up as a place to work, which we loved! With charging ports, private-ish booths we could see this being a great place to do collaborative work or host meetings. Plus, Copper’s beer list is by design approachable. If you’re new to craft beer, or intimidated by some of the hoppier profiles, you’ll find Copper Brewing’s selection highly drinkable!
Beth’s Pick – Dry Hop Sour – Beth said she thought this beer wasn’t too sour, which made it drinkable and repeatable! She coulda indulged in a couple of these ones.
Jody’s Pick – House Nut Brown – a warm combination of oats & nuts this would make an ultimate football or hockey watching beer!
Fourth Stop: Upside Cider
2555 Gale Road, Kelowna
Owner/Partner: Jaye Siegmueller
Anyone who goes so far as to install an upside-down tractor for signage deserves a visit in our books! And trust us, while that may bring you in it’s the impressive sips inside that’ll keep you there. This family-owned cidery has an amazing story: be sure to ask the staff about it. And for all you cider drinkers, you’ll delight in their 14 tap spread for flights…8 of which are cider!
Why it’s worth the drive: this is a one stop shop! Come in, sip on some amazing organic ciders, enjoy a charcuterie board (they even have vegan options) and SHOP! Adjoining the lounge is a Farm Market showcasing local and organic food year round.
Beth’s Pick – Upside’s own Apple Semi-Sweet – just the right amount of sweet balanced with some tang. This cider makes for easy drinking and was a delight
Jody’s Pick – Truck 59 Rhubarb Ginger – this bad boy was the best interruption to a day of beer sipping! I loved the tartness of the rhubarb with the subtle addition of ginger.
Fifth Okanagan Brewery Stop: The Barley Station
20 Shuswap St N, Salmon Arm
Owner/Partner: Kathy Bradford
Our Okanagan breweries loop finally came to a close in Salmon Arm, where Beth’s fiance agreed to pick her up…saving me from another couple hundred kilometers round trip to Kamloops. So we figured we’d pop into Salmon Arm’s iconic Barley Station Brew Pub. And it did not disappoint on a Friday night.
Why it’s worth the drive: approachable beer, good food and friendly service! Barley Station has won awards for their beer, and we love it cause anybody can find a beer they’ll like here. Swing by for Small Batch Friday to enjoy unique beers that are only around for the weekend, or drink their ShuswapTrail Ale IPA knowing that proceeds from the sale go to the Shuswap Trail Alliance.
Beth’s Pick – Station House Blonde – uncomplicated, simple and a great way to end the day
Jody’s Pick – The 8nder – you need to ask for this one, it’s not always on the menu! This is a blend of the Barley Station Brown and Blonde, chocolatey, nutty and lightly hopped.
We had a fabulous day driving around the Okanagan in search of local libations and celebrating female leadership in the industry. We wish we had more time: this not by any means a comprehensive list…but it’s a start!
As a female beer truck owner, I have grown to understand that we are breaking the mold and smashing the stereotype that “beer is for boys.” For many of us, we will continue to be mistaken for the server, very rarely to be assumed the owner or leader. In some cases, business will dictate our need to downplay our roles: making sure the public knows the brewmaster is a man or that we have male business partners. But just like all things in life: behind every man is a good woman. Which perhaps means, behind every beer!
So cheers! Cheers to you bad-ass beer (and cider) babes! The connoisseurs, the makers, the leaders. The courageous, the humble, the beer-preneurs. We see you. And we’re cheering for you.