My obsessive drive to find the perfect pizza and beer led me to two Kitsilano pizzerias – Incendio West & The Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company. Both of these restaurants are situated within a stones throw of each other and have both received positive reviews, they also happen to offer a selection of craft beer in both bottles and on draft. If I was making the effort to visit one pizzeria , I figured I should make the most of the evening and visit both. If I really want to find the best pizza and beer in the Vancouver area I will have to make sacrifices. This particular sacrifice comes in the form of eating multiple dinners in one night – a sacrifice I am more than willing to make.
We started the evening at Incendio West. Incendio West belongs to the Incendio Group which operates two Italian pizza & pasta eateries and Stellas Tap and Tapas Bar. Currently one of Incendio’s pizza joints is undergoing extensive renovations after a fire caused damage to the kitchen and dinning room - after learning about the fire I was not all that surprised to discover that the word incendio means fire. Chris recommended Incendio’s Gastown location to me months ago stating that they offered great pizza and a good selection of craft beer. I was saddened when he told me the restaurant had caught fire and would be closed for quite some time, but was equally happy to find that Incendio West was in full operation.
The beer menu at Incendio West is made up of bottled domestic and international beer – mostly light lager. Their draft selection includes R&B wheat ale and pale ale, Shaftebury Cream Ale , Okanagan Spring 1516 and Pale Ale and Stella Artois. Having never tasted R&B Sun God Wheat I decided to give it a try – it turned out to be a mild wheat ale and was not impressive. R&B Red Devil Pale Ale proved to have a much greater depth in flavour, which paired nicely with a Incendio’s pizza.
I originally thought that Incendio West baked their pizza in a wood fired oven – I was wrong, they use gas. I have no evidence to support that a wood fired oven creates a better pizza than gas, but my preference leans towards the wood fired option. Gas may be capable of creating enough heat to properly bake a pizza, but gas will never have the same authentic charm that a wood burning oven does. The pizza at Incendio’s was good – well topped with an appropriate amount of sauce and cheese. My only complaint was the soggy crust, a sign of an undercooked pizza. Looking around at other tables I found that almost all of the pizza lacked a slightly charred crust, which is a sign of a well cooked pizza. Proper pizza cookery requires enough bravery to leave a pizza in a hot oven long enough to fully cook the crust, even if the pizza is starting to char around the edges.
After feasting at Incendio West and a taking quick walk through the neighborhood and along Kits beach we arrived at The Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company. After spending an hour walking with hopes of burning off at least one slice of pizza, still none of us were hungry enough to sit down for a second meal, so we opted for takeout instead. Takeout would give me a chance to enjoy a fresh slice of their pizza while saving the remainder for the next day. Waiting for the pizza gave me enough time to poke around the restaurant to see if they used a wood fired oven and to also take a look at their beer selection. I am happy to confirm that Rocky Mountain bakes their pizza in a wood fired oven. Their beer selection is quite impressive as well, offering beer from Howe Sound Brewing in both 1 liter bottles and on draft – R&B Beer was also offered on draft. Seeing a table with a 1 liter bottle of Howe Sound made me wonder why more restaurants don’t offer 650 ml bomber bottles. A bomber is the prefect size for sharing and does not require the restaurant owner to commit to a full keg. The pizza at Rocky Mountain was good, but although the crust was fully cooked, it was noticeably inferior to Incendio’s Crust.
I have many places still to visit in my pursuit of finding the greatest pizza and beer in Vancouver. By the end of this summer I hope to conclude my search – I gladly welcome any recommendations for places to visit.
I had the pleasure of enjoying two beers this week that were new to me, Moylan’s Ryan Sullivan’s Imperial Stout and Lost Coast Brewery Raspberry Brown. Both of these beers have been patiently waiting for me for a few weeks now.
I am usually not all that fond of Imperial Stouts becayse they tend to be aggressively alcoholic, which dominates the roasted malt flavour. The problem could be that I just have yet to find the right Imperial Stout – I am sure it is out there somewhere. Moylan’s proved to be one of the better Imperial Stouts, but I am still not overly impressed. However, I did find that this robust ale paired nicely with dark chocolate – the bittersweet chocolate helped to draw out the stouts deep roasted malt flavour.
I was pleasantly surprised by Lost Coast’s Raspberry Brown. Unlike many raspberry ales that taste only of Raspberries – If I wanted raspberry juice I would simply go to the store and buy raspberry juice – this beer actually marries the raspberry flavour and the beer flavour together to create a fantastic combination of flavours. If anyone is looking to introduce their friends to craft beer, Lost Coast Brewery Raspberry Brown would be a great starting point.
The raspberry ale will be added to the favourites page shortly, Moylan’s Imperial Stout, not so much.
Two major events have taken place in the past two days that has effected and will continue to effect the lives of all British Columbians; The Vancouver Canucks failure to advance onto round three of the Stanley Cup playoffs and the BC Provincial Election, polling stations will be closing in less than one hour from now. In Chris’s absence I feel it is my duty to point out that although the Canucks were prematurely knocked out of the Stanley Cup race, they still made much it farther than the Toronto Maple Leafs did. These two events will drastically effect British Columbia’s beer industry, although it may not be obvious to all.
In Canada, hockey games draw excited sports fans to pubs, bars, restaurants and other drinking establishments wallpapered with LCD televisions, playoff games draw an even larger crowd. During an average Canucks playoff game, pubs in the Vancouver area experience up to a 70% increase in beer sales – big money is to be had in the playoffs. Now that the Canucks are no longer vying for the prized Stanley Cup, bars will cease to be filled with passionate hockey fans guzzling beer upon beer. In addition to the decline in draught beer sales, I would not be surprised if liquor stores also experience somewhat of a decrease in beer sales. Generally speaking the season finale of House is not an event that friends gather over and drink beer.
But Vancouver’s loss to the Chicago Blackhawks is not all bad news. Dix BBQ, located next door to the Canucks’ home stadium, GM Place, will no longer have an excuse for canceling their weekly cask beer event held every Thursday. The weekly cask event was regularly superseded by Canucks home games to make room for hockey fans. I am a bigger beer fan than I am a hockey fan – so don’t hate me when I say that I’m not all that upset over the loss.
The BC Provincial Election, which the results of should be tabulated shortly, may also change BC’s beer industry. Carole James, the leader of BC’s NDP, has gone on record as saying that if the NDP are elected the price of an average six-pack at a private liquor store could jump as much as three dollars. I am not entirely sure where the Liberal or Green parties stand on this price increase, but from my limited understanding of BC politics I don’t think either party has any plans that would result in more expensive beer. British Colombian’s are already heavily taxed on alcohol sales – please don’t increase beer prices. This new pricing is somewhat reminiscent of North America’s short lived temperance movement that succeeded in total prohibition – it also comes across as a “sin tax”. Beer is part of a healthy diet and should not be priced at a level where the general public is discouraged from enjoying a beer as part of their day to day diet.
This is a big week for British Columbia. Die hard Canucks fans; I am sorry for your loss, there is always next year. Empowered voters; if the election does not go your way, four years isn’t that long.
I’m off to Greece today until May 24th and I hope to not be blogging during that time. Erik will keep the blog train going when I’m gone. I previously wrote about the lack of Greek beer, but I do hope to visit the one craft brewery Greece has to offer. At the very least there will by Mythos, which I tasted at a Greek restaurant in Kamloops last week. I hadn’t heard many good things about it, but I found Mythos to be a simple, enjoyable lager. Who knows, I may have to drink a lot of Greek wine when I’m there? My life is so hard.
A great thing about having a beer blog is that my friends know it and are often willing to bring me back some beer from their travels. My friend Tristen was just in Moab, Utah on a dirt biking trip. Before he left, he offered to bring me back some beer. I was a little skeptical because I’d heard that in Utah, what with the whole Mormon abstinence thing, beer could be a bit scarce. Tristen managed to find and bring back beer from a couple of the very few brewpubs in Utah. We drank it last night after work, while watching the Canucks lose, and it was delicious. Thanks Tristen, you are a good man.
Utah brews, imported by Tristen
We sampled Provo Girl Pilsner and Full Suspension Pale Ale from Squatters Brew Pub, as well as 1st Amendment Lager and Polygamy Porter from Wasatch Brew Pub. I’m not sure what I expected, but I found all four beers to be quite good. In fact, I wish more BC brew pubs bottled their beers for general consumption. I got an especial kick out of the Polygamy Porter slogan, why have just one? The beer itself was a nice roasty, chocolaty porter. I also really enjoyed the Full Suspension Pale Ale, which had a tremendously hoppy floral aroma while not tasting particularly bitter at all. It is good to know that the citizens of Utah can turn to these brews in times of need.