My Own Private Vancouver Beer Crawl

During the last day of Vancouver Craft Beer Week, I decided to give myself a late birthday treat during my semi-regular growler filling expedition and attempt an East Van Beer Crawl (“Yeast Van”, ugh).

Lucky 7 list of East Van beer places:

My goal was to have at least a 4oz taster at each place. Whoa there buddy, that’s almost 1.5 pints! I’m nothing if not responsible and respectful 😛 So with a transit pass in hand and a shitload of empty growlers, I set off!

Storm Brewing

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First stop, Storm Brewing. Man, it was a gorgeous day. Sunny but with a light/medium breeze so I didn’t get too sweaty and hot trekking from brewery to brewery.

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Storm has shirts now! They even have those deep v-neck t-shirts for the more confident sartorialists.

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I’ll have to pick up an Imperial Flanders Sour Ale when fellow beer geeks (like Gerald & Bam) come in from out-of-town 🙂 Today, I was looking to get growlers for an upcoming family BBQ, so something more light, refreshing and not too out-there. Imperial Pickle IPA? Probably not this time…

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Samples are by donation, so I tried some of their weekly “Brainstorm” beers. The first was Ginger L’Orange Pilsner. The zingy ginger really melded with the carbonation to give a prominent but enjoyable and not over-the-top gingeriness. Combined with the natural-tasting orange flavour and crisp, light bitterness, this was tailor-made for an exciting and completely approachable summer beer experience.

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Second sample, Granny Smith Apple Pie Ale. Totally smells like apple pie! Flavours of ginger, apple, cinnamon and brown sugar. I probably wouldn’t drink more than 12oz of this at a time, but it would pair really well with desserts. A great experiment that paid off.

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Third and last sample, Rosemary IPA. A good IPA but I couldn’t really tell if I got that much rosemary. Obvious pairing would be lamb dishes!

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Haha, yup.

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You can pick up the paper version of the BC Craft Beer News here.

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They were checking the gravity of a batch of their Black Plague Stout. Needs more time in the fermenter, I think. I like that bobbing thermometer-like thing.

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I went with the excellent Ginger L’Orange Pilsner and a previous favourite, Basil IPA. Drinking the Basil IPA reminds me of eating pho with freshly torn basil 🙂

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I came across Odd Society on my way to my next stop, Powell Street Craft Brewery. I’d love to try it someday, maybe include it as a cocktail refresher during my next beer crawl.

Powell Street Craft Brewery

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Here we go, Powell Street! It’s the little nanobrewery that could! They’re moving this summer to a bigger space down a few blocks and eventually increasing their capacity to microbrewery size.

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I was eager to try their new ISA (India Session Ale), Belma Flew Into The Citra Galaxy, which naturally contains three kinds of hops (Belma, Citra and Galaxy).

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Truth in advertising.

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The ISA is only 4% and 30 IBU.

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Their signs are always helpful.

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Fruity on the nose, but also hints of grassy, herby, piney aromas too. I got less fruitiness on the tongue but there’s a long, dry, bitter finish that doesn’t seem more than 30 IBU. Punches much higher than its weight class 😉 Great for a 4% beer. My favourite comment from the guy here was “it doesn’t make your mouth all cottonmouthy like other IPAs.” Hah, so we can now use the word “cottonmouth” to describe beers now! :-Q I got a growler of this to go.

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Cool-looking place, Scandilicious, just around the corner from PSCB. This is their “Dockside” location. The waffles and Norwegian meatballs sound like a possibility in the future.

Parallel 49 Brewing

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Next stop, Parallel 49. I don’t get out here as often as I should. I’ve always wanted to try their infusions.

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Tons of bikes. Vancouver loves to bike ‘n booze 😛

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Parallel 49 looks like a popular bus tour destination.

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Great idea if you want to entertain out-of-town beer geeks. I’m less interested in the brewing process, more interested in the drinking process!

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Their big industrial “randall” or beer infuser. I’ve tried doing something similar at home (e.g. here and here) but the advantage of using a randall is that it keeps the carbonation in the beer whereas infusions using a french press remove most of the carbonation, resulting in a flatter beer.

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I guess the green bits are mugwort. I hate the whole “lemons in Corona, lipstick on a pig, marketing the crap out of your shitty multinational beer” thing, but if there’s actual craft and experimentation involved in adding lemons with beer, I’m all for it! Parallel 49 has different infusions all the time (one that stood out was one that used Cap’n Crunch cereal), so I must visit more often!

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Their Tricycle Grapefruit Radler (beer mixed with juice) is great. It’s also available in cans here at the brewery and also at the better private beer & wine stores around town.

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Here it is, today’s infusion: Gypsy Tears with Lemon and Mugwort. The lemon really came through and gave a tasty dimension to this caramelly red ale. The mugwort gave a slight tea/grassy quality. Really enjoyable on a sunny day like today.

You might’ve had mugwort before if you like Korean rice cakes (tok) or Japanese mochi. The powdered form is used to coat the outside.

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That infuser really works! Look at that creamy head!

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They love their technology here. That looks like the space-age Rolls Royce of growler fillers.

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Impeccably clean glassware at Parallel 49. The way the bubbles cling to the glass in layers is a good sign. Awesome show, great job!

Alibi Room

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Fourth stop (and a much-needed bathroom break): Alibi Room! How the eff do you break a washroom mirror? One that’s mounted four feet off the ground?? No biggie about having no mirror, that’s what selfies are for 😉

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In retrospect, I totally should’ve tried the Red Racer Dave Ale with Jasmine, Rosemary and Orange Peel. Cask is probably gone by now…

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Alibi’s always-big list. I went with a nice dry stout. I like everything that I’ve tried from Persephone Brewing.  Nothing crazy or experimental, just really well-executed classic styles.

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Habanero-infused Belgian tripel?? Sounds like sweet-meets-heat to me! I’ll have to try it next time.

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Persephone Brewing’s Dry Irish Stout. Just awesome. Nothing like a creamy dry stout served on nitro. What’s nitro, you ask? It’s usually used for stouts, where the tap is rigged with nitrogen instead of the usual CO2. The nitrogen provides finer carbonation resulting in a creamy, smooth beer with a silky foam. And since it’s dry, not sweet, it can be very refreshing. To me, at least. Dry stouts like this can actually be lower in alcohol and calories than other lighter-coloured beers.

See The Lighter Side of Dark: Debunking the Myths Surrounding Dark Beer.

Beer always sparks interesting conversations. The guy sitting next to me at the bar was in town from Chicago. We talked at length about Asian migration and settlement in Vancouver vs Chicago. I also talked his ear off about where to drink more local beer and wrote down a tight list of places to check out. I hardly ever initiate these kinds of bar conversations but am plenty willing to participate if the topic is food or beer! 😛

Main Street Brewing

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Time for some solid food at Main Street Brewing. I was looking forward to trying the beef chili that I noticed on their menu last time. I walked in and noticed they were playing a great 80s mix on the speakers. Even edgy stuff like this:

But also fun-in-small-doses stuff like this:

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Three casks today.

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Strathcona Pale Ale on the left, Brown Ale with Cascade Hops on the right. The Strathcona Pale had tons of fruity aroma, gentle carbonation (as typical with cask beer), and lots of implied sweetness from all the fruity hops. Really good. The Brown Ale had flavours of dark malt, hint of smoke, caramel. The cascade hops gave an extra tasty dimension.

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Taps for their regular beers.

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Taps for the cask beers. Love how these taps require a different pulling action to draw the beer out. It’s like a turkey baster vs a pressurized whip cream dispenser.

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It’s pub-style counter service here. If you order food, they give you a bottle with a wooden spoon with your number written on it. Turn the number so it faces the kitchen and food will magically appear in front of you in mere minutes! Hopefully.

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Hot damn this hit the spot. Two Rivers Beef Chili Bowl. A great chili, not over-the-top with any one flavour. Just a classic chili taste without any gimmicks. I dunno how Rogue Wetbar won that Gastown chili cookoff years ago with their unbalanced, almost burnt-tasting chili…

The bread wasn’t fancy but tasted good with the light toasting. The butter was GREAT. I got curry powder and/or paprika flavours from it. Yum.

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Sour cream and chives on top. I’ve avoided sour cream on chili before, but I really enjoyed the beefy, tomatoey taste playing off the slightly tart, fatty sour cream. They’re generous with the high quality local beef too.

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I had to try the third cask, the Scottish Export. Malty sweetness is the predominant flavour but with a gentle balance and quaffability that comes with classic UK style ales. Quite nice!

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The chili at Main Street Brewing is my idea of a tasty, well-balanced chili that you don’t tire of. You just wanna keep on eating. If I was at home, I’d lick the bowl.

Brassneck

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My penultimate stop, Brassneck. I love coming here cuz they always have new beers and sometimes special tasting-room only beers.

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It’s that Brassneck gold. I decided to get a 1L growler (growlette?) of their Stockholm Syndrome Saison with Brett.

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A sample of Brassneck Changeling Sour Ale with Voignier Grape Must. I tried this last week but had to try it again before it’s gone! Voigniers are a white wine grape variety and “must” is the beginning stage of winemaking where the whole grapes (including skins, seeds, stems) are mashed up. Changeling was definitely tart but very refreshing on a sunny day. Good amount of dryness so it’s not cloying. A good sipping beer with a wonderful sour grapey aroma with a smidge of funk.

Second beer conversation of the crawl: I had just sat down with my 6oz of Changeling and hadn’t even taken my first photo when the guy sitting two chairs from me starts talking about my camera. As with all geeks, there are a few intense subjects that I can talk at length about for as long as you have oxygen and attention: beer, food, dance music, yoyos, alternative comics, Asian-Canadian issues and PHOTOGRAPHY.  So his inquiry about my camera sets off this huge somewhat one-sided (on his side) conversation about camera technology, Asians in Vancouver (he brought it up, he was white), Peaceful Restaurant (he loves their chewy noodles), Joolma vs WordPress, and the forestry/mining industry in BC. He was different from me in every way: 200 lbs of hairy muscle, works in the forestry industry (on the stock market side?), drives an expensive car (by the looks of his keychain on the table — maybe he was waiting for his luxury car to be serviced?), and was totally the Alpha Male. I’m Gamma Male at best… But beer does spark interesting conversations, and I actually got more out of the conversation than I expected.

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As I was leaving Brassneck, I saw this food truck, errr food bus setting up just outside: The Burger Bus. I’ve never seen these guys before nor seen them mentioned on Twitter or Facebook. Looks like they’ve been around for two years or so.

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An Angus burger for $6.50? Very fair pricing, I think. I’ll have to keep my eye on these guys. Bison burger is right up my alley. A medium-rare burger ain’t gonna happen but if they bring the flavour, I’m game!

33 Acres

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Seventh and final stop, 33 Acres. I made it to the end! My god, the crowd at 33 Acres is always young, stylish and attractive 😉

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My current favourite mobile pizza truck, Community Pizzeria. They have a meatball pizza now?? Must try…but…some other time. I was plenty satisfied with the beef chili at Main Street Brewing. Obscured entries are “Pesto & Olive” and “Prosciutto & Arugula”.

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Yup, real wood. Takes a lot of work and logistics to run a wood-fired pizza truck.

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The room at 33 Acres might be a bit stark and minimal but imho it looks sooooo good in photographs. The big open windows just flood the space with gorgeous natural light. This is in unfortunate contrast to the tasting room at Brassneck, where the weird lighting makes my photos come out jaundiced-looking and slightly unappetizing. Someday I’ll get the post-processing right on those Brassneck photos 😛

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Dessert and a beer. 33 Acres of Naturtrüb (rye ale) with 33 Acres of Vanilla Malt Ice Cream. The staff told me that they won’t have the 33 Acres of Chocolate Malt Ice Cream until maybe the Fall. Too bad cuz I think the hefeweizen-like banana character of the Naturtrüb would work well with chocolate flavours. So this pairing with vanilla ice cream was just ok. Something darker like a chocolatey stout would be better with vanilla ice cream. But seperately the beer and the ice cream tasted great. The ice cream (made for 33 Acres by Earnest Ice Cream) always has a great fresh milk taste, prominent sweetness and tongue-coating creaminess.

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That was a fun daytime beer crawl! Future options could include a currywurst and whatever’s on tap at Bestie in Chinatown and an extended tour of Main St. with a stop at Portland Craft. I felt a bit bad about not fitting in Bomber Brewing, which I could’ve done in between Parallel 49 and Alibi Room. Well, goes to show that there’s PLENTY to do out there if you just reach out and grab it!

Funny thing I saw as I passed Portland Craft on the way home after 33 Acres: The Fish Counter looked busy during the early evening and a young couple were just sitting cross-legged right on the sidewalk eating their delicious-looking spread of crispy golden fish and chips. I instantly wanted to do the same thing. When will I be satisfied?


Addendum: I was neglectful and forgot to mention one of Vancouver’s oldest proper craft breweries, R&B Brewing, located on East 4th and Quebec. Plenty close to the rest of the action to be included on your next growler-filling expedition! I personally like their East Side Bitter, which I fondly remember having on tap once at Fable on West 4th.

One thought on “My Own Private Vancouver Beer Crawl”

  1. Quite the day! You must be building a crazy set of pipes lugging all those full growlers around!

    I’ve never been to Storm but I’m intrigued by their seasonal flavours. Must pop by sometime.

    You should definitely go to Odd Society Spirits. Cute little space. Then grab dinner at Kessel & March right after.

    Bring me a growlette of Naturtrüb and I’ll make you a tub of chocolate-rye hef ice cream!

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