Vancouver’s suburbs, for the most part offer very little to the world of good food and drink. Most bars and pubs tend to serve passionless food and a selection of seven lagers with one pale ale. I have found that Carling’s Black Label tends to be on special three nights of the week in most Langley pubs. I see no great problem with this, suburban communities are teaming with bar goers who love this sort of thing. The only problem I see is the lack of diversity; if I want to go out for a quality drink and a well prepared, but not fussy, meal I have very little choice.
On the opposite spectrum of the country bar is the urban trendy casual dining restaurant. Establishments such as Earls, Moxies, Cactus Club, Joey’s, recently Mr. Mikes Steakhouse, and many many more, fall into this fast growing category.
The servers at these restaurants tend to look like this:
The food tends to look like this:
The clientele tend to look like this:
And the beer is almost always a house brand psuedo-craft-brewed lager and pale ale combination. This is a problem.
These restaurants are targeted towards dinners who are somewhat image conscious, but also want good food. When a plate at one of these restaurants is prepared by a caring line cook, the meal is often quite good, but when an upset college student is in the kitchen, the results can be less than acceptable.
Serving house brand beer is simply unacceptable when no other craft beer is offered. For starters, house brand beer tends to be almost identical if not identical to the contract brewers standard offering. For example, Mr. Mikes Steakhouse and Bar offers a house brand beer brewed by Okanagan Springs Brewing that taste the same as Okanagan Springs Pale Ale. By creating a house brand beer, the real brewer receives no credit – the contract might be financially rewarding to the brewer, but the brewer is losing out on a big opportunity to build brand awareness and create new customers. Everyday, thousands of customers fill these restaurants, many of them ordering a pint of house brand beer, and most of these people will have absolutely no idea who brewed the beer they enjoyed with their meal. What a missed opportunity to promote quality craft beer.
The second problem is, once again, the lack of selection. Most of these trendy casual dining restaurants offer bottled lager and house brand pale ale and lager. How creative! Instead of only serving house brand craft beer, why not offer a larger selection of branded craft beer. Serving only house wine would be unacceptable in most establishments, serving only house beer should be equally unacceptable.
I live in the suburbs, and will continue to visit local pubs for cheap wings on Wednesday night, and will eat at trendy casual dinning restaurants on occasion. But I will never truly be satisfied until I see a proper beer selection that includes a mix of both micro and macro brewed beer at all suburban establishments.