Tag Archives: Pub

Craft Beer Market Opening in Vancouver

If you’re from Calgary, chances are you wouldn’t shut up about 1989 if I started poking fun at your terrible, terrible Flames.  You might also be aware of a restaurant/pub called Craft Beer Market, a ginormous beer bar in Cowtown.  This very same establishment is opening up a new venue in Vancouver.  It’s going to be in the historic Salt Building (it’s required by law to put “historic” in front of “Salt Building”) in Vancouver’s up and coming Village on False Creek, ex athlete’s village during the Olympics.

Craft Beer Market Vancouver is opening next summer, but for some reason they decided to have an open house this rainy October.  For some other reason, they thought inviting Ashleigh Mcivor would help them sell more beer next summer.  While I doubt this manoever will pay dividends in the long run, I enjoyed seeing her because she is pretty and was letting people touch her gold medal.

Historic Salt Building

HISTORIC Salt Building, view from Tap and Barrel

When I tell normal people about the new Craft Beer Market, they think it’s cool.  When I talk to beer nerds (not tell, beer nerds know all), they universally doubt this new place in town is going to be any good.  I’m with the nerds on this one. CBM is hyping their proposed 140 taps and miles of draft lines as a good thing, but I’d take quality over quantity any day.  It already takes me twenty minutes to order a beer at the Alibi Room, why would I want to triple my choices?  More importantly, a lot of that beer is going to be sitting around for a long time going bad.  If my past experience at Taphouse (160 draught beers) in Seattle is any indication, you’ve got a 50/50 chance of getting a nice stale or oxidized beer.

Tap and Barrel

Tap and Barrel is behind those trees, view from HISTORIC Salt Building

Another reason I’m not bullish on CBM is that the new Tap and Barrel is right there. Like, right there.  Can this new village support two giant pubs, or even become a real village? Maybe these two will be packed during the summer when it’s nice out, but Vancouver doesn’t exactly have a thriving pub scene in less than optimal conditions.  Then there’s the fact Tap and Barrel has a bigger patio with a better view.  I just don’t see what works in Calgary working in an increasingly hipsterized Vancouver, not with such stern competition already in place.

That being said, I’ll be praying for Alibi Room 2.0.  It is a cool old building and they’ll have to have some good beer pouring out of those 140 taps.

Crowded Open House

Crowded Open House, power of free beer

So what was the open house like?  You got four drink tickets for showing up and leaving your name (you probably could have done this repeatedly).  The place was packed because, you know, of the free beer.  There was some food (bread and charcuterie) if you were willing to wait in a giant line for it.  Local businesses Terra Breads and Legacy Liquor Store had booths, as did Oceanwise, Mission Hill, and Blasted Church.  I did not get my face painted, despite feeling like a bad ass lion face could have done me some good.  Breweries on hand:

  • Central City
  • Howe Sound
  • Turning Point (Stanley Park brand)
  • Dead Frog
  • Granville Island
  • Parallel 49
  • Tree
  • Russell
  • Whistler

None of them had incredible beer available, except for Central City, champs that they are, who brought a cask of ESB, which of course they ran out of before I got there.  So yeah, if I don’t forget this place is supposed to exist, I’ll totally check it out next summer.  Then we’ll see what happens, possibly a brawl with Tap and Barrel?

Friends at Craft Beer Market Vancouver

Ran into some friends, Craig ruined this picture with his face



The Duke of Cambridge Organic Pub

The Duke of Cambridge is quickly becoming my favorite pub in our new neighbourhood of Angel Islington.  It’s a bit off the beaten path, but it came highly recommended by both Yelp and Lonely Planet, so we had to check it out.  I’m glad we did because I really enjoy it’s cozy atmosphere and tasty treats.  It’s a completely organic pub, as in every ingredient in all the food and every drink they serve is 100% organic.  I don’t particularly care about the organicness, but I do appreciate the care and attention that goes into their menu.  You can taste the love and it is delicious.  I’ve noticed that the majority of London pubs will have five generic European Lagers on tap and then three casks of similar not terribly exciting British ales.  The Duke of Cambridge breaks the mold by serving interesting beers on tap, cask, and in bottles, with no generic macro brews to speak of.  It’s rare to find stout, porter, and even English lager available in pubs here, and so I especially enjoy the Freedom Dark Lager and both the stout and porter from Pitfields.  While I respect the organic stance the pub takes, what I really like is the overall quality of the food and drink.  Combined with the quieter, relatively hipster free locale and the comfortable and inviting interior, the Duke is my new favorite.

Pitfields Porter at the Duke of Cambridge

Pitfields Porter at the Duke of Cambridge



The Pub

Samz Neighbourhood Pub

Pubs in concept are great – providing a warm friendly environment with good beer and affordable hearty fare.  But I think I like the idea of a pub more than I actually like being at a pub – this is a problem.  To be honest I have never felt very at home in a pub, unless I am accompanied by a large group of friends.   I wish I could say I was that guy who  pulls up a bar stool and becomes instant friends with his fellow beer drinkers , but I’m not that guy.  I am more of the quite guy in the corner swirling and sniffing his beer, slowly savoring it’s flavour as if it were wine.

Please note, I consider brewpubs and pubs significantly different from each other.  I love Brewpubs, but consider them to me more of a restaurant with  a focus on beer than a pub.  This is not a criticism of either pubs or brewpubs, it is merely an observation.

In an attempt to change my attitude, my wife and I made a point of  visiting the different pubs in the Langley/Surrey area.  I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew, this new pub challenge is a classic example of that and we only made it out to two different pubs; The Fox and Hound and the Murrayville  Town Pub.  But after sitting idle for over a year this challenge has  been revived and with more passion and vigor then ever.  Last Sunday my wife and I were far to lazy to make lunch – after deciding that generic chain restaurants were not going to satisfy our hunger  we ended up at Samz Neighbourhood Pub just outside of Lanlgey’s downtown core.  I cannot say that Samz was anything special nor was it terrible, it was just a pleasantly simple pub.

I truly believe that I am missing out on what could be a great pub culture in Langley.  Sure the beer at most of Langley’s pubs may be bland and the food is often boring, but I don’t think that is the point.  A pub is at its best when  filled with friends – I hate to say this, but beer and food are not the focal point of a good pub – its the people.  A pub filled with cask’s of rare hand pumped ale and platters of slowly barbecued pulled pork is nothing without good friends.  This is not excusing pubs that serve low quality food and drink – who wants to spend an evening with friends over bad tasting food and bland beer.  Good people deserve good food, it is as simple as that.

I am going to be making a point of grabbing lunch, dinner or just an afternoon beer at Pubs in the Langley/Surrey area.  But unlike my previous failed attempt, I am going to do my best to get a whole group of people to join me, or at least try to.  I am hoping to find some hidden gems in the Fraser Valley and will try to plan a pub night within the next two weeks.  I am hoping that If we get enough people out on a semi regular basis we may be able to encourage local pub owners to slowly replace the some of their standard macro brew with a growing number of micro brewed beer.  Expect an invite shortly.  If anyone has any pubs they would like to recommend please post the name and location in the comments section.