After five years as a busy salesman selling beer around the region, Richmond-based Shane Zahar realized two things: he loved BC’s tasty craft beer scene, and he also wanted to find a different way to work in it. “I was thinking of starting a brewery but that’s a really tough job and it didn't seem like much fun,” he says.
Thinking laterally, Zahar soon came up with a different business idea—and a great way to have a blast with locals and visitors. Now operating on the streets of Steveston, Brew Bike is a group pedal tour around Steveston pit stops. Your vehicle? A huge, leg-driven contraption that stops people in their tracks whenever they see it.
The Brew Bike catches a lot of attention on the streets of Steveston. | Photo: Crystal Solberg
“I spotted one of these on the streets of Portland and it seemed like everyone was having such a great time,” recalls Zahar. After sourcing and shipping three of the pedal-powered chariots from a manufacturer in Spain, he launched Brew Bike this summer, giving village visitors a unique way to work up a thirst for their next beverage.
With time to spare on a recent sunny afternoon, we joined a group of pedal-ready people and checked it out.
What’s it like?
Our tour started behind the Steveston Bakery, where Zahar waited with a smile alongside his black-painted, four-wheeled mega bike. Comfy saddles face each other on the vehicle’s flanks (there are six saddles on each side, along with a bench seat at the back), while Zahar has his own captain’s seat facing the front—someone has to steer and keep an eye on the road.
The Brew Bike features adjustable seats and an overhead storage area. | Photo: Crystal Solberg
Most of the passenger seats have their own pedals and, after a quick safety announcement (including “Don’t jump off when we’re moving”), the group dug in and started working. Steveston is a good place for a bike tour like this: it’s mostly flat, there are several easy-to-reach stops, and the streets are lined with photogenic heritage buildings to point your camera at en route—between stretches of serious pedalling.
It’s not all that serious, though: much of the route is incline-free, making it easy to keep the bike moving without working too hard. An inspiring soundtrack helps: a Bluetooth hook-up means anyone on board can connect their phone to the bike’s speakers and pump out a playlist of pedal-pushing tunes. On our ride, that included the Beatles’ I Feel Fine, Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger and, of course, Queen’s sing-a-long-ready Bicycle Race.
The songs certainly helped motivate us on the route’s occasional uphills, where short bursts of extra legwork were called for. The benefit of working up a little sweat like this? It makes the beers at each stop feel fully earned and far tastier!
Brew Bike’s Steveston Beer Tour takes around two hours and visits three village stops. Naturally, Zahar doesn't partake, but he’s a warm and friendly host with plenty of suggestions for what to sip at each establishment—which is particularly handy if you’re not from the area.
Our first stop was Steveston Built, an L-shaped, brick-lined taphouse with some tempting BC breweries on the menu, including Victoria’s Hoyne and Vancouver’s Red Truck. But Richmond producers are also well represented here, and we enjoyed a pint of Mango Wit from local brewery Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks.
A glass of Mango Wit at Steveston Built is the perfect way to cool down. | Photo: John Lee
Keep in mind that the price of the tour—$39—does not include the beverages consumed en route; these mostly cost $5 or $6 each. And with up to 30 minutes at each of the three stops, there’s ample time for a leisurely drink and an appetizer (Steveston Built’s tempura green beans and mushrooms are the perfect snack) before you hop back in the saddle.
The tour’s second scheduled stop is the venerable Buck & Ear, a traditional-style neighbourhood pub full of chatty regulars. Beer-wise, there’s everything from Kronenbourg and Stella Artois to BC-made Granville Island Brewing available on tap here. And, as with Steveston Built, happy hour pricing is typically in effect for afternoon visitors.
After an extra burst of speed, we finally reached our concluding destination. Depending on available space, this can be one of two different across-the-street establishments. The upstairs room at Catch Kitchen + Bar is one option but, on our tour, we stopped at Britannia Brewing. The four-glass tasting flight is recommended here—don’t miss the delicious Ashore Rye Porter. And if you’re suddenly feeling peckish, some truffle oil and parmesan popcorn is a perfect side dish.
Enjoy a beer flight at Britannia Brewing. | Photo: John Lee
It may be the tour’s final beer stop, but you shouldn’t get too comfortable at this stage: you still have to pedal back to Steveston Bakery. Luckily for us, it wasn’t too far away, and our final stretch included a downhill. That meant we could coast a little at speed, with a few celebratory hollers. The beer may have had something to do with that.
Need to know
Brew Bike is a great way to try something new on your next Steveston visit. And you don’t have to be a beer fan to partake: there are two alternative tours as well, including a Taps & Tacos Tour that has a drinks and appetizers focus and a Discover Steveston Tour that starts with coffee and hits historic sites and shoreline viewpoints.
All tours are $39 per person and each starts and ends behind the Steveston Bakery. Running until the end of November, you can book ahead via the Brew Bike website.