Friday, December 28, 2012

Vancouver, BC, Canada Craft Beer WalkAbout

So, once again I took a loooong break from posting. I actually went to Vancouver a couple of months ago and I never got around to blogging about it, luckily I took some notes and pictures.

Vancouver and the surrounding area has quite a few breweries and craft beer bars. As in my previous WalkAbouts (NYC and Denver), I only went to places that were within walking distance from my hotel. "Walking distance" can mean a lot of things for different people, for me it is usually anything under 2 miles, especially if I am trying to hit multiple places on the same day.

I will be discussing the bars as well as the beers I drank at each one. The beer reviews will be brief compared to my single beer reviews. The locations are listed in the order that I visited them.

Alibi Room
157 Alexander St.
Vancouver, BC, CAN

The Alibi Room was the farthest I journeyed from my hotel (Sheraton Wall Centre), it is about a 1.5 mile walk. Unfortunately for me my phone died while I was walking there and I didn't remember the exact location. I knew it was located at the eastern edge of Gastown and I knew it was close to the train tracks, I just didn't remember how close. So, unfortunately this led to my wandering around a seedier part of town than I expected. What is "seedy" you say? Well, I walked by multiple boarded up buildings, a methadone clinic, and what looked to be halfway houses. Now just to be clear, I never felt like I was in danger or anything. If I had walked directly to where I needed to go I would have never had to go near these places.

Once I got there, the Alibi Room ended up being a very cool craft beer bar/restaurant. It is set up as more of a bar and lounge combination than a true sit down restaurant. The street level area is the main bar and lounge area with a smaller bar area below ground. It felt very cozy and inviting and the staff was friendly and prompt. What I thought was the coolest thing about it was the location which butted right up against an active freight railyard. From the bar you can watch the freight trains go by about 10-15 feet from the windows. Their menu is a bit eclectic ranging from a simple burger to house-smoked trout pate'. I ended up trying the Bison Cheese Steak Sandwich, and boy was I NOT disappointed. The bison meat was amazingly tender and juicy, which can sometimes be hard to accomplish with such a lean meat.

On to the beer!

Driftwood Brewery Fat Tug IPA
7% ABV

Very piney with some fruit on the nose. Grapefruit I believe. Impressive full flavored IPA. I like this beer ALOT, hopefully I will see it down my way soon.

Tenaya Creek Tandem Double IPA
9% ABV

I was trying to stick with local beers but I couldn't resist trying the only double IPA on the menu this day even though it was from Las Vegas....I should have known better.

This beer seriously smells like Bushmills Irish Whiskey, and not in a good way. It smells like burnt caramel and very woody. It tastes very sweet for a double IPA. You can definitely taste the alcohol on the way to a bitter finish.

I don't say this often, but this is just a BAD beer.

Steamworks Brew Pub
375 Water Street

This place was a short walk down the street from the Alibi Room. I was really looking forward to checking out their beer, as the only other "Steam" beers I have had are those brewed by Anchor Steam. This is a very large two story restaurant, the diametric opposite of the place I just left. I always like to try out a brewery's IPA first if they have one on tap, surprise.

Empress IPA
ABV Not Available

Not sure what was up with this beer. It started off with a clean taste up front but ended up very astringent with a horrible aftertaste. Yes, there was the bitterness of the hops which was expected but there was something else (like a cilantro flavor) that just did not sit well on my tongue. I ended up bailing with 1/3 of a glass left...

Yaletown Brewing Co
1116 Hamilton St.

This place was another large restaurant with a full restaurant/bar on one side and a bar/pub on the other side. It is part of a brewery chain in Canada (MJG). I decided to sit at the bar on the bar/pub side as they had quite a few TVs showing MLB/NFL games. As luck would have it, I hit the brew pub on their weekly Cask night, where they tap a 5 gallon cask and set it up on the bar until it is gone. I would highly recommend their Smoked Applewood Cheddar, Potato and Ale Soup, it was extremely tastey.

Brick and Beam IPA with Fresh Grapefruit (CASK)
ABV Not Available

Pours a slightly cloudy pinkish copper. The smell is amazing with the fresh grapefruit. Really wakes you up. The flavor is awesome, the grapefruit really makes this beer pop and gives it a great bitter finish.

 Granville Island Brewing
1441 Cartwright St.

This brewery is out on Granville Island (obviously) and requires a short water taxi ride to get there if you are on foot. This true brewery is where I learned a bit about British Columbia's liquor laws which are interesting to say the least. If you are licensed strictly as a brewery and not a "brew pub" you are not allowed to sell more than 375ml (12oz) to any one person in a 24 hour stupid is that? So, I only had the opportunity to try 3 tasters.

English Bay Pale Ale
5% ABV

This beer is a 2011 Gold Medal winner at the World Beer Championships. Pours a clear light copper. Smooth drinking with a light maltiness. Carbonation is nice and poppy. Light bitter finish. I would definitely label this a "sessionable" beer.

Lions Winter Ale
5.5% ABV

This beer was amazing! It pours a dark clear amber. It has a huge chocolate nose. The taste is chocolate with hints of vanilla. Carbonation hits the front of the tongue. Bitter finish and aftertaste. It has the flavor profile of the best chocolate stouts but packaged in an amber...again A M A Z I N G.

Pumpkin Ale
6% ABV

Pours a clear orangey copper. Spicy nose with nutmeg. Hints of pumpkin cheesecake. Sweet maltiness. Bitter finish hit the roof of the mouth.

Dockside Restaurant and Brewery
1253 Johnston St

This place is also located on Granville Island. It is a large restaurant/brewery and the restaurant is more on the "upscale" side compared to the other places I went in Vancouver. I only had time to try one beer while I was there.

Pelican Bay Brown
ABV Not Available

Dark amber color.Roasted malt nose with a toasted caramel flavor. No hoppiness in the aroma but it does hit you with a hoppy bitterness mid palette and finish. It is a bit bitter a brown ale.

I have to say, out of the breweries/brew pubs that I visited, Granville gets my vote as having the best most flavorful beers. I really wish I had been able to try more while I was there.

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