One of my goals for 2017 is to travel more and invest in staycations. Last weekend, we decided to staycation in Canada and visit the lovely Vancouver, B.C. The focus of our weekend getaway was Brews & Views.
After arriving to Vancouver and eating lunch on Granville Public Island Market, we took in the downtown views and explored downtown, gastown, and yaletown. We then headed to “East Van” and started our first brew tour.
First stop, Strange Fellows Brewing. Serendipitously, this was the perfect start to our brew tour because they had sour beers (!!) and the bartender was super helpful in giving us tips for the rest of our tour! She came by our table, highlighted the stops to go and which ones we could likely skip (we had over 10 breweries on our list and only about 4 hours to accomplish our tour). As a big fan of sour beers, I would highly recommend Strange Fellows. Part of their brewery is also a small art gallery featuring a local artist.
2nd stop, Luppolo Brewing. Luppolo is Italian for hops, and their beer definitely lived up to its name. The beer was very hoppy and complex. If you’re into hops, this is definitely the stop for you. Tip for next time: place Luppolo towards the end of a brew tour, not at the beginning. I left slightly buzzed and was grateful for the walk to the next stop (thankfully, all of the breweries on our list were within walking distance from each other).
Callister Brewing is Canada’s first collaborative brewery. They pride themselves on being a craft brewery incubator where they feature and rotate taps of independent breweries. Callister had a vibe of innovation. With four breweries featured, there were so many brews to choose from! Also, great art work for sale on the walls.
Next up, Doan’s Craft Brewing. A tiny space but what they lacked in size, they made up for in the depth and flavor of their beer. Their Rye Stout and Rye IPA – WOW. Even if you are not a fan of Rye beer, this place might convince you otherwise. Super solid stout and IPA. This place also had board games, which gives them even more brownie points.
Our last stop was highly anticipated since 2 of the breweries we visited that day both recommended Storm Brewing. Storm Brewing is Vancouver’s oldest independent brewery. How to describe Storm……..amazing. Storm is by far our favorite brewery we have ever been to, ever.
We had a hard time finding it at first because, like all of the other breweries, it was in a nondescript building. I finally noticed a hand written sign that said “Storm Brewing” followed by a hand written yelp review – “So sketchy, but GREAT BEER!” (which is the most accurate description of Storm – I can see why they chose to include this yelp review on their handwritten sign).
Once you find the building, you walk around to the rear entrance where you slide open an industrial sized door and immediately walk into what looks like your friend-who-makes-home-brews’ basement. No tables, no chairs, and definitely no decor – except for plastic rats everywhere.
You walk up to the brewers who hand you a plastic cup. The sign by their taps read “NO pints and flights, 6 samples per person, cash contribution in tip jar, one sample at a time, hold onto your cup, no repeats.” Um…AWESOME.
Armed with our plastic cup, we each tried 6 samples of their incredible beer. From their vanilla whiskey stout, to their rose IPA, to their apple pie ale (which tasted exactly like apple pie), to their blood orange creamsicle ale (which also tasted exactly like a blood orange creamsicle) to their imperial sour, we were blown away. Definitely some of the best – and unique – beer we have ever tasted. When we were done, we threw our cups into a large recycling bin, put our cash contribution in the tip jar, and left. No prices, no frills, and the best damn beer and brewery experience you will ever have. 10 points to Canada.
We couldn’t have planned our brew tour more perfectly. We started with good and ended with GREAT. Our next stop was a board game bar I found online. Storm Crow Tavern is every gamer’s must. Gaming was the focus from the decor to the server’s outfits to the menu. Eric rolled a D&D dice to determine his drink (very fun!), and we stayed long enough to play a game of cribbage. Storm Crow offers over 50 games. I wish we could have stayed longer, but we needed to rush to make happy hour at Rodney’s Oyster House. HH oysters are $1.50 and come with a tray of 6 different sauces.
Upon arriving, (35 minutes before their happy hour was over), we were told it would be at least a 45 minute wait. I was crushed. I wanted so bad to slurp back some $1.50 oysters. Eric, seeing how bummed I was, worked his charm and within 20 minutes, we were seated at a table! We quickly ordered two dozen of the HH oysters, the mussels, and fried oysters. The oysters, with raw horseradish (YUM), were sweet and delicious on their own but the sauces were fun to try and added even more flavor to the oysters. The mussels and fried oysters were equally delicious. The whole meal, including incredible service, was a perfect way to end the night of our first day in Vancouver.
Day 2 was dedicated to the views. We woke up early, hit the Sea to Sky Highway for incredible and mesmerizing scenic views of the Pacific Northwest. We stopped at Wycliff Park for some beach views. Wycliff Park is a gem. If I lived in Vancouver, I would come here as much as I possibly could!
We then took the Sea to Sky Gondola to bask in the views of the Howe Sound. The gondola ride in itself was amazing. Once at the top, we were greeted with beautiful snow capped mountains, tall trees, and a beautiful suspension bridge. We were one of the first people there so it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. Our boots were the first to touch the snow in many places. It was wonderful. We hiked the trails on top of the mountain and visited each lookout point. After our hike, we enjoyed a game of cribbage before we left. 🙂
On our way home, we re-visited Shannon Falls and the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. We visited these two places in our brief trip to Vancouver B.C. back in 2013. It was cool to come back 🙂
The beauty of this region is undeniable. “Beautiful British Columbia” indeed. It was a wet, cloudy, and foggy day – my favorite. I got to experience the sea, a beach, two suspension bridges, a mountain, a couple of forests, rain, snow, clouds, fog, and a waterfall. ❤
After taking in the views, we ended the second day with another brew tour 😛
First stop, 33 Acres Brewing. 33 Acres is a combo brewery and coffee bar. So naturally, the recommendation here would be their coffee stout 🙂
Next stop, Main Street Brewing. A long list of selections for both food and beer but ultimately the food and beer was just average. Not one I would highly recommend. I would highly recommend the company though :).
Third stop, Brassneck Brewing. This place was cool and had quality beers. Tons of people crammed into a long and narrow space. We were lucky to find spots. My favorite was the “Mr. Personality,” a “poundable” amber. Also bonus, Brassneck is right next to Cartems Donuterie in case you want to stop for a delicious donut.
Fourth stop, R&B Brewing. Cool tunes and brews. They had a sour collab with Doan’s that topped my list. Their ESB also very solid.
Last stop, Faculty Brewing Co. This place was started by two faculty members so naturally I had to check it out. The beers are named as course numbers depending on their complexity (from 101 to 500-course level beers). Faculty Brewing opened in 2016, and I think they still have some work to do. The beers are so-so, but I am giving them the benefit of the doubt since they are new and probably still figuring it out. I’d be willing to give this place a second chance and come back when they’ve hopefully developed better (and more) brews. C+
10 breweries in 48 hours! My observations about Vancouver’s craft brewery scene:
- always hidden in a nondescript building (why?) in an unexpected part of town
- each brewery is uniquely decorated and lots of them feature local art work
- overall very solid beers with a nice selection from ales to ambers to IPAs to stouts
- all of them were sufficiently busy to packed so the word is definitely out…Vancouver breweries are on. the. map. So, support your local independent brewers!
We ended the trip with dinner at Pizzeria Ludica in Chinatown. Yes, I know. Why a pizza place in chinatown? Because they have board games (of course)! This place is awesome. They have a wall of board games to choose from, and you can spend up to 2 hours after your meal playing games with your friends. They even have a game master on hand to recommend new games to you based on the types of games you like to play, the mood you are in, or your skill level. It was a board game nerd’s (me) dream.
Next time I come to Vancouver, my entire agenda will be eating all of the delicious asian food and other ethnic cuisines Vancouver has to offer. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time on this trip. Also, the number of Asian people I saw during this trip was a breath of fresh air – definitely a change of scene from Portland.
With everything going on in America right now, it was nice to get out of the country, even if only for the weekend and even if only across the border to Canada. I was also reminded as I crossed the border of my privilege as a U.S. citizen and of the ease of travel a U.S. passport gives me and millions of Americans. I wish this were the case for everyone right now. I am so lucky to have been able to return to this place that I visited with Eric right when we moved to Portland in 2013. Until next time. 🙂