WHERE I DRANK IN VANCOUVER
Despite arriving at our Best Western in the Yaletown District of Vancouver exhausted and perplexed by the number of time zones we’d just flown across, we knew sleep was not an option – our honeymoon had just stepped up a gear. It was 5pm Pacific Coast time and the Downtown was calling us, so we headed into the cool of the evening light seeking food and most importantly, beer!
Whilst searching for the historical steam clock located in Gastown it seems fitting that we were drawn into Steam Works Brewing Co. Impressed as I was in their vibrant brew pub I also noted that they are the only brewery in Canada to utilise steam power to brew their beers and have done since 1995.
Decor and history admired, now for the truest test… What’s their IPA like? Empress (5% abv) is a fine low strength example and brewed with UK East Kent Golding and US Hood Mount hops, giving it a crisp, tropical twang matched with earthy debonair.
Their Pilsner (5%) and Wheat Ale (7%) outshine the slightly shy Heroica Red Ale (5.6%) but my pick of the bunch is their seasonal Frambozen (7%), which crashes over my palate with youthful exuberance matched by a super dry finish. Pure refreshment!
The following day was welcomed a little too prematurely after about 5 hours sleep (yeah, thanks jet jag) but was shaken off with a monumental sea wall walk around the picturesque Stanley Park. After walking about 12km of the total 22km we disembarked and headed towards Granville Island for a liquid trophy, or two.
The charming peninsula boasts a University, an abundance of craft boutiques and art galleries plus its own glassblowing studio. After a peek around the tourist-swelled but captivating Public Market we proceed to the bright and airy Granville Island Brewing and order a 6 taster flight. Plenty of great beer on show here too… The deliciously hop-forward Amber Swing Span (5.6%) and Kitsilano Maple Cream Ale (5%) – which like it’s name is syrupy sweet and lusciously soft – both gain a nod of approval but it’s their Thirsty Famer Saison (6.2%) that has the wow factor! It just wants to lay you down in the tall grass and let it do it’s stuff. Spicy, citrus sharp and palate cleansing.
Driven by our stomachs we’re lured into Tony’s Fish and Oyster Cafe where we order the Seafood Platter for two. Deep fried calamari rings, battered baby octopus and king size prawns provide a salty and hearty feast – oh and their tartar sauce was superb too. The beer list is small but supplies Granville Island’s Lager and English Bay Pale Pale (5%) and to cut through the saltiness I opt for the latter. The fruitiness hits the batter between the eyes and the caramel malt weighs in perfectly with the chewy disposition of our deep sea friends.
We then go next door (literally) to Whet, a dimly lit but intimate bar and kitchen who pride themselves on having a superb beer list to match their seafood-forward menu. No need for grub after our previous haul so we order a flight of 4, each, and sampling from one another’s pallets there are some notable eyebrow-raisers. Driftwood Brewery’s Fat Tug IPA (7%) docks with a huge 80 IBUs of exotic pulp and Howe Sound’s Rail Ale Nut Brown (5%) offers a soft nutty aroma which gives way to a subtle roasted slump in your favourite liquorice recliner. However the victor of the night goes to the small but mighty Sasquatch Stout (5%) by Old Yale Brewing. Having been awarded Canada’s Beer of the Year just a month prior, it’s not hard to see why. For such a low ABV it leaves a big foot stomp on the palate. Robust body with a sensuous mouthfeel, offset by the deep roast and coffee bitterness. The chocolate creeps in at the end offering a warm hug along with that firm handshake.
So Vancouver treated us so well we were sad to be leaving the next day. However the spiritual home of grunge, coffee and Fraiser Crane beckoned – so we weren’t sad for too long…