A third guest post to LoveGoodBeer.com! This time we welcome David Reith to the fold. He is a good friend, a good writer, and an accomplished beer drinker. I hope you enjoy his post about a favorite local pub of ours. ~ Chris
As I read Erik’s post about local pubs, I couldn’t help but twinge when he insinuated that the beer and food at your local pub don’t matter as long as you’re amongst friends. It’s not that I don’t like a good time out with my buddies because I do. However, I think that a good time out with friends is often ruined by the experience of the venue. This includes most prominently the food and beverage, but also extends to the house staff and general atmosphere of the joint. Too often we suffer through poor food, boring beers, inept staff and other nuisances that can ruin a night before we even realize it.
The average local pub in the Fraser Valley usually falls woefully short when it comes to a selection of truly great beers. Even without getting into the selective world of cask ales and seasonal releases, there are more than enough craft and micro-breweries for pubs to choose from. Unfortunately, too many cater to the tasteless beer drinker or are forced to carry generic beer brands because of their chosen distributors. Erik is right in wanting more adventurous choices, and he is not alone.
To add to the shortcomings in brew selection, most local taverns forget that beer often leads to food and some thought should be given to the latter. As tasty as hot wings and nachos are (and believe me, I do love me some hot wings), they shouldn’t be the be all and end all of the pub menu. Along with thinking outside the box with their beer, pubs need to get adventurous with their menus.
With all this in mind, I want to commend a local watering hole on its achievements. Original Joe’s Restaurant and Bar is a Western Canadian chain of pubs from Saskatchewan to BC. Much like Tom Cruise in Cocktail, they sought to franchise the look and feel of the friendly neighbourhood tavern and I think they have succeeded. Admittedly, I have only visited one of their two BC locations (Coquitlam), but I have been a few times now and always enjoyed myself. When it comes to beer, I have not seen a better selection of craft brews outside of operating brew pubs. Their tap selection includes:
- Original Joe’s Red Ale, Honey Brown Ale, and Blonde Lager
- Okanagan Springs Brewing 1516 Bavarian Lager, Black Lager, and Pale Ale
- Russell Cream Ale
- Dead Frog Nut Brown Ale and Pale Ale
- Big Rock Traditional Ale, and Grasshopper Ale
- Whistler Black Tusk Ale, Import Lager, and Weissbeer
Their house brand, Original Joe’s, is brewed by Big Rock Brewing Co. in Alberta, but they venture outside of its boundaries to include some other interesting offerings, including local contributions from Dead Frog Brewing and Russell Brewing. To add to my enjoyment, they offer a different selection from the taps each day for just $4.75 for a big boy pint.
In addition to a great selection of beers, they also offer a diverse and exciting menu that truly entices. Pulled pork sandwiches, European sausages and handmade hamburgers all make appearances, as do some creative sides such as honey slaw, fries and homemade gravy, and mango pasta salad. And yes, for the stubborn or the un-brave they do have excellent wings and nachos, but my guess is that they kick the pants off the local frozen-to-fried fare served up at most local pubs. Plus, they have lunch and dinner specials that are actually that: special dishes at special prices (Note to restaurants: picking an item off your menu and printing it on a new page at the same price is NOT a special).
But the best part about Original Joe’s may not be the beers and it may not be the food. It’s got that X-factor. With portraits of local landmarks strewn about its red-brick walls and easily seen, but not overbearing TVs, O.J.’s provides just the right atmosphere for a good time with friends. The staff is friendly and recognizes you on repeat visits. So keep the faith beer-lovers! Great pubs are out there and they are waiting for you to find them. So grab some friends and venture out there. Cheers.