There is temptation at most pubs or bars for a beer drinker and then there is the sort of blatant temptation at the Railway Club in Vancouver, British Columbia, enticing me with a large ‘Self Serve Bar’ sign hanging over the bar.
I didn’t help myself but I just might have given half a chance. But there were always staff hovering within easy intercepting range.
So I let them serve me such hoppy delights as Phillip’s Hop Circle IPA and Fat Tug IPA from the Driftwood Brewery, as well as Back Hand of God Organic Stout from Crannog Ales for a very miserly $5.95 for an Imperial pint. Vancouver was under a bit of a cold spell and the hot and gently spiced carrot soup was just the ticket to warmth, balanced by the steady intake of IPAs.
The Yaletown Brewpub serves up the house Brick and Beam IPA, a sound and perfectly hoppy partner for the spicy grilled garlic shrimp that are to kill for. Still, I didn’t have to harm anyone to get these delicious shrimp with crisp golden shallots, lemon, salt and pepper and a bit of finely chopped cilantro.
The Alibi Room was jumping Saturday at lunch time and again later in the week when I returned at night. Bear Republic Big Bear Imperial stout at 9 percent abv was surprisingly well balanced for such a big bear of a beer. I didn’t have to wrestle this bearish beer down my throat as it slid down without a fight. Met fellow specialty beer drinkers from Toronto, George, now living in Vancouver and Dave on a self-imposed beer tour. Shared a fine example of the barley wine style from the Longwood Brewpub in Nanaimo, BC, with its 10.5 percent abv and a year of aging. It released aromatics of malt and raisins and finished with a bitter to sweet taste. Also had Yorkshire Stingo, a 9 percent abv bottle conditioned ale from Sam Smiths of Tadcaster, Yorkshire, that promised a minimum of a year of aging. It too had raisins and tasted of Christmas pudding captured in a bottle. Both ales are fine examples of the style and great beers to share.
Over at Steam Works Brewpub the coffee shop is long gone and in its place is a splashy new bar, adding around 70 seats. The Empress IPA was still in fine fettle and pouring well on my several visits.
St. Augustine’s Craft Brew House & Kitchen on Commercial Drive yields a good selection of craft draught, namely Amnesiac Double IPA from Phillips Brewing and Nitro Oatmeal Stout from Central City Brew Pub of Surrey among its many offerings. Check out its Web site for its ‘Live Beer Menu’, which not only lists the beers on tap but the remaining percentage of each. However, the isolated brewery tanks looked wanting splashed about near the bar and off over in the drinking areas. The good news is that the company is building a brewery off site called Parallel 49.
Two things you can count on in Vancouver–variable weather and changeable opening times at pubs and bars. The brewpubs, however, tend to stick to a regular schedule.