Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Weekend Beer Vacation: Vancouver, BC
I spent the last weekend in Vancouver BC beering about and intoxicating myself in addition to exposing myself to obligatory amounts of sightseeing and exotic food consumption. With the help of a local fixer, I was able to see the Vancouver beer scene through a pair of well-seasoned Canuck eyeballs. The faux-journalist inside me felt obliged to share this inside information as well as my pointed opinions with you, my loyal PB&M readers. Below, in no particular order, are some beery spots for you to consider on your next visit up to America's hat.
310 Commercial Drive
Talk about jinky. Or is it janky? Either way, Storm's brew setup looks like it was built by Doc Brown with some help from Rain Man. On first look, it's a total effing mess. On closer inspection, it's a DIY masterpiece of the handyman ethos. For beer fans sick to death of your run-of-the-mill brewery tour, Storm's for you.
If you're lucky, head brewer James will sample you on some of their decades-old fruit lambics or some of their in-progress Flanders red. If not, you'll emerge from the brewery with a prostitute spread out on your car hood (it's the neighborhood). Worth seeking out around town are Storm's more conventional brews, especially the Black Plague Stout which pushes conventional stout boundaries into a maltier, fruitier gene pool.
The Alibi Room
157 Alexander St
Self-described as a "modern tavern", Alibi makes a point to provide a casual, upscale atmosphere without the snobbery or douchery commonly found in many Gastown drinking establishments. 50 taps of craft beer (most of which are local one-offs) don't hurt, either. Just knowing that the beer menu is typed daily on a typewriter adds that extra bit of care and passion.
Such minutae speaks to this picky beer activist, and it didn't stop there: proper serving temps, food/beer pairings, beer cocktails.. and the list goes on. I highly recommend trying any Driftwood beer you may find, especially the Fat Tug IPA which is right up there with my NW & Cali favorites. Also enjoyed at the Alibi was Howe Sound's MegaDestroyer, an Imperial Licorice Stout which puts the Abyss in its rightful place far below this near-savory beverage.
La Belle Patate
1215 Davie St
OK, so it's not a brewery, craft beer bar, homebrew supply shop, secret tasting location or yeast farm. What it is, however, is a place that offers much-needed drinking fuel (and a reasonable beer to keep you going). After trying several poutine spots in Vancouver, I've deemed this one the best.
And of course, in addition to the 40+ fry combinations (breakfast poutine, anyone?), you can get bottles of Unibroue beers to enjoy on-site. Not the most exotic, but damn tasty alongside hot, gravyfied fries and squeaky morsels of cheesy heaven. Needless to say, La Belle puts our local favorite Potato Champion to shame.
Howe Sound Inn & Brewery
37801 Cleveland Ave
Feeling tired? Too much beer? Need some exercise? Drive an hour or so north on Canadian 99 towards Whistler and you'll pass multitudes of state parks, lakes, and mountains great for a leisurely hike. Sweat some beer out, take a swim, get some sun.. and put more beer back in at Howe Sound. The ski lodge vibe inside the brewpub feels right after a day of outdoor adventuring, and the food is homey pub grub that will refresh your energy levels.
Howe Sound had, by far, the best tap list of any brewpub I'd visited. There was a long list of varied standards, hitting on all style cylinders from belgian to pale, IPA to stout. The one-offs included three interesting Imperial styles (Hefe, IPA, Stout) and were all winners. The outdoor patio boasted a bevy of picturesque wildflowers which complemented the most intense mountain views. I'd refrain from taking home the standard 1L jugs (they're cheaper in Portland), but the one-offs are a different story- they're not distributed in our state. Throw a King Heffy in the car for the ride back to PDX!
Other places worth mentioning:
Where to buy beer to bring home: Brewery Creek Liquor Store; www.brewerycreekliquorstore.com
2nd best beer bar in town (complete with loud UFC fans): St. Augustine's; www.staugustinesvancouver.com
Best hangover coffee/breakfast: Delany's Coffee House; 1105 Denman St
Make the best of your trip to Vancouver, BC, and bring me back bottles of Driftwood!